Debugging is a code smell

Production can be a real pain in the ass. This seems to get amplified if the software being run in production doesn’t do its job of telling you what’s wrong. Something I’ve noticed during my tenure at a software company I worked for, is that the product regularly required a developer to be involved in order to determine configuration issues.

Usually the developer needed to hop on a webex and walk through the problem with the Client’s support staff. This was no small feat, as the support staff required programmers, DBAs, and the client Project Managers to be involved – not the kind of situation that instills confidence for your client.

If the problem could not be determined, a copy of the production database (that was usually 10-50 gigs) would need to be scrubbed, and transported so that development could debug the situation locally in order to find out what’s wrong. This seemed ridiculous, and was actually indicative of a larger problem: There was no visibility into what the code was actually doing.

How do you combat such a horrible problem? Slowly.
Unfortunately, there is No Silver Bullet. Buy in needs to be available to fund the necessary steps to identify critical areas of the application that are continually bad performers and address them.

How to address them?
Unit testing comes to mind. Identify areas of your system with high coupling and attack. Focus on what’s best for the BUSINESS. Create a wish list that would help the BUSINESS if more transparency were available.

All in all, its all been said before. I would recommend looking at: The PPP, Clean Code and Refactoring.


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