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Taking the Pain Out of Debugging With Live Programming 254

Posted by samzenpus
from the we'll-do-it-live dept.
angry tapir writes "'Everyone knows that debugging is twice as hard as writing a program in the first place,' Brian Kernighan once wrote (adding: 'So if you're as clever as you can be when you write it, how will you ever debug it?') However, Sean McDirmid, a researcher at Microsoft, has been working to remove some of the pain from debugging. McDirmid, based at Microsoft Research Asia, has been studying ways of implementing usable live programming environments: a solution that is less intrusive than classical debuggers. The idea is to essentially provide a programming environment in which editing of code and the execution of code occur simultaneously — and in the same interface as code editing — with tools to track the state of variables in a more or less live manner."
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Taking the Pain Out of Debugging With Live Programming

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  • by White Flame (1074973) on Monday April 15, 2013 @10:26AM (#43451817)

    This will no doubt become an ad hoc, informally-specified, bug-ridden, slow implementation of half of a REPL.

  • Good, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ControlFreal (661231) <[niek] [at] [bergboer.net]> on Monday April 15, 2013 @10:31AM (#43451871) Journal

    ... this should be in addition to good coding/style standards, proper design, proper source revision control, proper code reviews, and continuous testing/integration. Without any of the former, using this tool does not provide that much information: You first want to know whether your code does what you think it should do, whether it is thread safe, whether it is leaking memory, etc., etc., etc.

  • Re:Visual Studio (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 15, 2013 @10:34AM (#43451907)

    seriously? Now I admit that Visual Studio is feature rich, only on windows, only with microsoft stacks, and doesn't compile things in a normal fashion (see #pragma) this above comment just oozes microsoft troll...

    It's a troll alright, pretending to be over-the-top-Microsoft shill and still getting some Slashdotters riled up, even though this has been going on for a long while and obvious troll is obvious.

  • by Charles Duffy (2856687) on Monday April 15, 2013 @10:46AM (#43452011)

    I suspect you haven't seen a Common LISP debugging environment. Yes, they allow breakpoints, as well as live code modification. (And if you were lucky enough to have a LISP machine, you could dive into the code behind your libraries, your operating system, etc. -- updating state on the fly, all the way back to tweaking a driver on a running machine... on the fly, in LISP).

    What we have these days (say, Clojure's nrepl) isn't as powerful as that, but it's pretty damned powerful even so. Want to tie into your production system and see what a new version of a function would do against currently live production data, without actually changing the production system's behavior? If you're writing purely functional code, you can do that trivially... and the language strongly encourages pure functional code (as opposed to many "modern" languages where trying to write things to be side-effect-free is working against the grain).

    If the best example you can think of is QBasic, you have no idea what a REPL can do.

  • Re:Visual Studio (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ByOhTek (1181381) on Monday April 15, 2013 @11:05AM (#43452201) Journal

    You must have closed your eyes and plugged your ears at the shotgun. I admit it was pretty gruesome. However, after wards they brought out the chainsaw, boiling acid and a couple of fighter jets for good measure... It was horrible.

    The sad thing is... They already did that once before to get to the UI that was in 2010... The UI does seem to be getting worse and worse... Just like with their OS and Office products (and it seems, many others to a lesser degree).

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ranton (36917) on Monday April 15, 2013 @12:23PM (#43452971)

    Why is the computer industry hell bent on constantly reinventing the wheel?

    Why are people in the computer industry hell bent on complaining when people take concepts from well designed software of the past an implement it in more popular development tools? Can you imagine how annoying it would be if architects kept saying "The Romans figured out arches two thousand years ago, why do these new kids keep reinventing the wheel" ?

    IMHO, I welcome most attempts to take the good features from Smalltalk and implement in more heavily used languages.

  • Re:Visual Studio (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Monday April 15, 2013 @12:41PM (#43453141) Journal

    Microsoft really cares about programmers and developers and helps all of them write efficient and clean code.

    If that were true, they would get a working C99 compiler, one that isn't based on a standard from over 20 years ago. I had to install Cygwin to compile some code over the last few months because it wouldn't compile in Visual Studio.

    It's not even that hard, even allowing variables to be declared at any point in the code would be a huge improvement and would be a simple little change. If Microsoft wants to pay me to come do it for them, I'll give them half off.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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