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Which Bugs Do You Find?

By Steve Jones,

I was listening to a StackOverflow podcast awhile back and there was a discussion on  programming, debugging, and how software has changed. One of the interesting things was that we have solved many programming issues and are building more complex software, which has resulted in the types of bugs that we often find today are different than the bugs many of us older folks used to deal with in programming.

When I was writing code as a youth, we often had bugs that were process bugs. We were trying to get software to do X, and struggling with actually how to tell the computer that X should occur. I heard a few people on the podcast mention that they typically didn't have those bugs too often, at least not once the software was at a point where they would release it for general use. Instead they talked about finding bugs that were issues because the flow of the software wasn't what the user expected. These bugs were problems in terms of actually determining the way the software should function in order for it to be useful for the user.

That's an interesting idea. As we've built more frameworks, abstraction layers, and other tools to help us program, you would expect that many simple bugs, things like issues with memory, buffer overflows, etc. would become less prevalent, and more often we'd have these flow bugs that are based on how the software is used. It's a topic that begs this question for a Friday poll:

Do you think your code has more bugs because of problems building the algorithm in code, or because of a lack of understanding in how the user will interact with it?

With more "agile style programming", rapid development and changing of requirements, one would think there are more of the latter bug. However let us know this week what you think. Reflect on the issues that you have had in writing code, reports, user interfaces, even more complex calculations. Are there more problems with actually understanding the design of what you need to build, or the actual implementation once you understand it.

Steve Jones


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