When you’re a beginner in the field of coding, the smallest errors might seriously test your patience. This could also be a demotivating factor that leaves one feeling hopeless.
Fortunately, there are some tips for quickly resolving errors and debugging your code even when you’re on your own. We’ve discussed some of the most basic ones below, so don’t lose hope:
1. When In Doubt, Print
When you’re coding, you should have a sense of every variable value in each line. If this is getting difficult, print them out so you can determine any changes while running the program.
Printing also comes in handy when you want to be certain about what you’re running. For instance, you can print out a fixed string just before printing any variable. This way, you wouldn’t mix up your print statements.
If you suspect that the running doesn’t include a certain block of code, print ‘got here’ to determine if there are any mistakes in the control flow. The for-loops and if-statements are usually the culprits in such cases, so printing will help you determine what’s going on.
2. Start With Working Code
When you’re not confident enough to start from scratch on your own, there’s no shame in starting with working code by someone else. A beginner coder is more like a hacker in any case, so have a solid base and work upon it to fulfill the requirements.
Even if you have to work on a project of your own, you may Google a script that performs close to what you need. Don’t simply believe the claims but run the scripts you find to make sure they work properly and in an expected manner. Start by making minor changes and testing frequently to see if you’ve introduced any bugs.
3. Reproduce the Bug
In order to diagnose a bug and deal with it properly, you may have to invest time in writing a test case. JUnit, XCUnit, or Jasmine would come in handy here. This way, you can keep your focus on that single bug and nothing else. Your fix time shrinks as well since you don’t need to launch the whole app and click around to reach the crashing screen. The test case will also make sure the bug doesn’t come back!
Some coding experts even recommend reproducing the bug before you do anything else. This is sometimes the best way to find out what’s wrong so you can work out a solution.
4. Comment it Out
When you have some problematic lines of code, it might help to change them into comments. These are ways of leaving notes in code which won’t get confused with programming instructions.
This language feature will help you in weeding out the bugs and coming back to them later. This way, you’ll have all the bugs laid out for you and can focus on all the problems instead of resolving them one at a time.
Every programming language has this feature, with Python using hashtag. If your script is far too long to go through in this manner, comment out parts that aren’t related to your required changes. This will help to run the program faster and hence make it easier to search for bugs.
5. Understand the Error
When you get an error message, your first response might be one of despair. However, the message itself could contain valuable information about how to resolve the error itself. Most of these messages have descriptions that can be accurate for their diagnosis and solutions.
You can also try to Google the error and see what it means. Copy-paste the last stack trace line into the search engine and you’ll get adequate results where other users have received answers to similar errors. Or, you can go a bit more progressively and try out a Python application performance monitoring tool to get even clearer insights into all of the errors and details.
Coding beginners usually don’t have much experience with troubleshooting and bug-fixing. As in most cases, practice makes perfect. Once you make the above tips a habit, the issue of resolving errors will soon become instinctive.
In fact, these habits will also help out programmers or engineers who’ve been coding for quite a while. If none of the tips seems to work, we recommend taking a deep breath, walking away, and coming back after a break to work at the code again. A little refreshing could do wonders for you, and the issue just might jump out when you get back in that seat!