Why is finding bugs in code so hard?

Mark Gacoka
4 min readOct 27, 2022

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Problem: why is finding bugs in code hard?

There are many reasons why finding bugs in code is hard.

Developer stressed out in front of a computer

Code can be very complex, making it difficult to understand the potential ways it could fail. Even if you have a good understanding of the code, knowing where to look for bugs can be challenging.

A good understanding of the code is one part of the problem. You also need to know where to look for bugs. They can be challenging to find because they may be hidden in the code or buried in a complex data structure. Finally, once you find a bug, it can be challenging to determine what caused it and how to fix it.

Tools and techniques that can help with finding bugs

There is a myriad of tools and techniques which developers use to find bugs in code which include static/dynamic analysis tools and code review, respectively.

By identifying and fixing errors before code deployment, code review can help improve code quality and increase collaboration among team members.

Code review is the process of examining code for potential errors or bugs. It can be done manually, by a team of developers, or by using automated tools. Code review can help reduce the number of bugs in code by identifying errors early on and providing feedback to the developers. Code review is an integral part of the software development process, as it can help to reduce the number of bugs in production code. By identifying and fixing errors before code deployment, code review can help improve code quality and increase collaboration among team members.

One disadvantage of static analysis tools is that they can sometimes generate false positives and reports of bugs that don’t exist.

As software becomes more and more complex, the need for automated tools to find bugs in code becomes more and more critical. There are various automated tools developers can use to find bugs in code, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. One type of automated tool that developers can use to find bugs in code is a static analysis tool. Static analysis tools examine the code without actually executing it, and they can often find bugs that would be difficult to find otherwise. One disadvantage of static analysis tools is that they can sometimes generate false positives and reports of bugs that don't exist.

The dashboard for the CySuite website

Another type of automated tool that developers can use to find bugs in code is dynamic analysis tools such as CySuite. Dynamic analysis tools execute the code and observe its behavior, and they can often find bugs that are difficult to see with static analysis tools. One disadvantage of dynamic analysis tools is that they can be slow and miss some types of bugs. The type of automated tool best finds bugs in code depends on the situation. In many cases, it's best to use static and dynamic analysis tools to find as many bugs as possible. More tools that help you visualize your codebase are outline in this article I wrote.

How to prioritize which bugs to fix first

A screenshot of Javascript code on an IDE

There's no easy answer when deciding which bugs to prioritize when debugging. However, you can keep a few factors in mind that may help you make the decision.

  • One factor to consider is the severity of the bug. A bug that causes the program to crash is more severe than a cosmetic issue.
  • Another factor to consider is how often the bug occurs. A bug that occurs every time a user interacts with the program is more important to fix than a bug that only happens occasionally.
  • It would help if you also considered the impact of the bug. A bug that affects only a tiny portion of the program is less critical than a bug that affects most of the program.
  • Finally, you need to decide if the bug is a show-stopper. A show-stopper is a bug that prevents the program from being used entirely. These are the most critical bugs to fix.

Ultimately, it's up to you to decide which bugs to prioritize when debugging. Just keep in mind each bug's severity, frequency, impact, and show-stopper status.

Actionable takeaways for developers

Thinking like a developer in relation to preventing and finding bugs in code
  1. Make sure to test your code thoroughly before deploying it to production.
  2. Use a debugging tool, e.g., a debugger, logger, or dynamic analysis tool, to help identify and fix errors in your code.
  3. Be sure to follow best practices for coding and software development to help prevent errors from occurring in the first place.

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