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That is, with clean, well-designed code with unit tests there should be less need to fire up the debugger.

I don't think there's ever a need to fire up the debugger. However, there are occasions where a debugger session might just be the fastest way to narrow down an error. Unit tests and the debugger are by no means an either-or decision.

I occasionally work on code written by someone who has retired. Code which doesn't have unit tests and/or isn't well designed and/or hasn't been touched in a decade or so. I could, of course, just argue it's not maintainable (merlyn). But when I'm interested in the code, I'd rather spit into my hands and grab whatever tools might help.

The quotes about tracing (merlyn) or stepping through a program (Brian Kernighan and Rob Pike) just miss the point about what debuggers can do. Personally, I'd rather use the debugger than print statements (Daniel Lemire) just because debugging sessions are transient (Brian Kernighan and Rob Pike). I don't want to spend time to format data structures for printing (the debugger does it for free), and I don't want to have to remove the print statements before committing.

I agree with most of the quotes that you need to think before starting to debug. But I also think that you need to know the debugger to some extent to decide whether it is a good tool to tackle a problem or not. Learning the debugger is not a waste of time, and it is easier to get started with than e.g. Log::Log4perl or Test-driven development.


In reply to Re^4: Using the perl debugger to look at a renaming files function by haj
in thread Using the perl debugger to look at a renaming files function by Aldebaran

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