10 Tips to Get Better at Debugging

In the vast world of software development, there’s one skill that consistently stands out as both a challenge and a necessity: debugging. Every developer, regardless of their level of expertise, has faced those stubborn bugs that seem to defy resolution. But what separates the good from the great is the ability to dig deep, dissect the problem, and find a solution. So, how can you get better at debugging and become that invaluable asset on your team? Here are ten tips to help you sharpen your debugging skills.

1. Understand the Code

Before jumping into debugging, take time to understand the codebase. Knowing how the code is supposed to work can provide insight into where things might go wrong. If you didn’t write the code, consult documentation, comments, or ask the author for clarification.

2. Embrace the Debugger

Sure, you can use print statements or logs to track the flow of your program, but nothing beats the power and clarity of a good debugger. Integrated development environments (IDEs) like Visual Studio, IntelliJ, or PyCharm come equipped with built-in debuggers that allow you to set breakpoints, watch variables, and inspect the call stack. Don’t shy away from them; they’re your friends.

3. Start Simple

Begin by confirming the basics. Is the issue reproducible? Are the configurations correct? Is there any evident syntax error? Many times, problems that appear complex at first glance have straightforward solutions, and starting with the basics can save hours of overthinking.

4. Divide and Conquer

Break the problem down into smaller pieces. If a function isn’t returning what you expect, check its inputs and outputs. Isolate the section of code causing the problem, and you’ll have a much easier time identifying the root cause.

5. Print Debugging (Use Sparingly)

Adding print statements can help track down where things are going wrong. This can be especially useful in situations where using a debugger might be overkill or impractical. However, remember to remove or mute the print statements once done, so they don’t clutter the output in production.

6. Look for Common Pitfalls

Common issues like null pointers, off-by-one errors, or uninitialized variables can be the culprit behind many bugs. Knowing these patterns and recognizing them in your code can make the debugging process faster. It’s always a good idea to be aware of the common mistakes in your programming language of choice.

7. Rubber Duck Debugging

This technique involves explaining your problem to an inanimate object, like a rubber duck. It may sound silly, but verbalizing the problem can help you see it from a different angle. It forces you to slow down and consider each part of your code. And if a rubber duck isn’t handy, any other object (or even a patient colleague) will do.

8. Use Version Control Wisely

If you’re not already using a version control system like Git, start now. With version control, you can compare your code with previous states to pinpoint what changed. If a bug crops up, you can track when it was introduced and by whom, providing invaluable context

9. Stay Calm and Systematic

Debugging can be frustrating. Instead of randomly changing code hoping for a fix, approach the problem methodically. Make one change at a time and test the results. This way, you won’t introduce new bugs, and you’ll have a clear understanding of what fixed the issue.

10. Learn, Document, and Share

After resolving a bug, take time to comprehend its cause and solution. This enhances your programming skills and prepares you for potential recurrences. Especially for challenging bugs, it’s crucial to document your findings, whether in code comments, a personal wiki, or your team’s knowledge base. Such documentation acts as a valuable reference for you or your colleagues if the issue resurfaces in the future.


As we wrap up our exploration into the world of bug-squashing, it’s clear that to get better at debugging requires a blend of patience, practice, and strategic thinking. Embracing these ten tips will not only sharpen your technical acumen but will also empower you to tackle challenges with greater confidence. Remember, every bug you encounter is a new opportunity to learn and grow. So, the next time you find yourself facing a perplexing code issue, acknowledge it as a new development in your debugging process.

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