Problem Solving With Java

Problem Solving With Java-54
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Of course often even it’s the right version of the manual that might be the problem since the code has been updated and the manual hasn’t. Of course this is typically called something useful like “Drop Stack Frame” rather than “step backwards”.

If you do step over the wrong line of code then look for the debugger feature that lets you step back through the code. Debuggers will let you have conditional breakpoints but I tend to find it easier to just drop in a few lines of temporary code to catch the condition I want to break into the code at.

One somewhat useful feature of debuggers is the ability to catch a particular exception class from wherever it’s thrown. The solution to this problem is to tag each source code change with the related defect number and keep a more detailed description of why something was changed and who was involved in the decision. But don’t spend hours digging through Google until you have tried some of the other strategies first. If you only click on the first link you might not know that there are other posts in the forum that might be more useful.

There are lots of other kinds of debugging tools available now. Sometimes the issue might flip-flop between two “right answers” until eventually someone has fixed it often enough that they actually remember something is happening here. To aide in find out who changed a particular line Subversion has a great little feature called “Blame” which tells you the username of the person to last change a particular line of code. Open the first five or so links that look related and quickly scan them to see if they are on topic or not. One thing to watch out for with Google is that it tends to bundle multiple posts from a forum into a single search result. Google can’t see into all forums, so sometimes you need to search through a product specific forum directly.

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Have you been able to find a fault in the product, or maybe you just need it to behave differently for your application, patch over it with the problem. It’s a good investment of time at the beginning of the project to download all source code (that you can) and attach it to the classpath in your IDE. Most developers would probably consider this a low-probability strategy but hey, you never know maybe the answer is contained in the documentation. Personally I find they have limited value since they are slow to use. Hands-up if you know what the keyboard shortcuts are for stepping through the code?

Be careful that you are reading the right version of the manual. For an article that’s all about debugging, there’s not a lot to say about debuggers.


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