Rod Hilton's Reviews > Debug It!: Find, Repair, and Prevent Bugs in Your Code

Debug It! by Paul   Butcher
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Jul 06, 11

bookshelves: programming
Read in July, 2011

I loved the idea of this book. So many aspects of software development have books written about them. How to write good tests, how to design good objects, how to increase performance, etc. But there don't seem to be any books written about the art of debugging. I was excited to grab a copy of Debug It! and fine-tune my debugging skills.

I was tremendously disappointed. If you are skeptical of the book, thinking "but I've been debugging for a while, what more is there to learn about it," let me assure you that your concerns are right on. The book contains almost no practical advice for actually debugging. It contains references to a few types of bugs you might see, suggests setting up experiments, and advises only changing one thing at a time. Any programmer who has been in the business for more than a year knows all of this.

The author seems to simply have nothing to say about the topic, to be honest. A particular section on bugs that are particularly tricky contained no useful information, and actually suggested to the reader to "keep at it, you'll figure it out eventually." Seriously? Is this a technical book or a self-help audiobook?

The author has two or three blog posts worth of material, which he has stretched out to an entire 200-page book via useless anecdotes and insipid, generic advice. I hate to sound so harsh, but this book simply has no reason to exist. The second half is slightly better than the first, so I'm glad I forced my way through it, but I found myself skimming large portions after a while, able to tell from as little as the section title that I could skip it.

There's an entire chapter about anti-patterns, which I did enjoy, but none of the antipatterns had the slightest thing to do with debugging. It clearly belonged in a different (better) book. The parts of the book related to debugging are superficial and light on real content. I cannot recommend this book for anyone other than a recent college graduate who has yet to actually debug anything at a real job.
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