Re: debugging proposal

A few points I’d like to make on the “do we or don’t we need a debugger”
debate. These are my personal opinions and not intended to upset
anybody:

  1. a debugger is very helpful in understanding other people’s code
    (which includes frameworks like Rails). It can be valuable learning
    tool, in my opinion.

  2. “I don’t need a debugger” or “I have never really needed a debugger”
    are not valid reasons for not providing one. I don’t use debuggers much,
    but it’s nice to know there is one, if I need it.

  3. I would really like to use Ruby for most of my professional software
    development. Unfortunately, IT managers are too often sold on tools,
    which creates the perception that the maturity of the tools is an
    indication of the value of the programming language. Now, while I
    wholeheartedly disagree with that, I cannot singlehandedly change this
    perception. If I was an IT manager in control of a project, that would
    be a different story, but I earn my livelihood by being a software
    consultant.

  4. At the moment, my perception is that Ruby is mostly used by very
    clever and very experienced people (not including myself in that). When
    Ruby adoption becomes more widespread, especially in more commercial
    environments (so I can actually write Ruby code for a living), there
    will be inexperienced developers writing Ruby programs. My view is that
    the more experienced a developer is, the less reliance they will have on
    a debugger, but for all the others, a debugger is often a very valuable
    tool.

  5. A debugger is not a replacement for unit testing! (Neither are unit
    tests a full replacement for a debugger, but they certainly do alleviate
    the need for one)

  6. A fully-featured, performant UI-based debugger will help (me, at
    least) in evangelising Ruby. On two separate occasions, I have spoken to
    colleagues and got feedback along the lines of “Yeah, but I couldn’t
    figure out why my program didn’t work and it didn’t have a proper
    debugger, so I went back to XYZ”.

  7. I needed something interesting to do and this seems like a decent way
    for me to understand the internals of Ruby.

Cheers,
Max

Max M. wrote:

A few points I’d like to make on the “do we or don’t we need a debugger”
debate. These are my personal opinions and not intended to upset
anybody:

  1. a debugger is very helpful in understanding other people’s code
    (which includes frameworks like Rails). It can be valuable learning
    tool, in my opinion.

If you use Visual Studio, you may like to know that the current version
of our Steel IDE for VS has a Ruby debugger with breakpoints, watch
variables, locals, autos, call stack, stop-and-evaulate (in the
integrated console), step into/step-over etc.

Currently this debugger works at the speed of the Ruby debugger (i.e.
slow) but we shall be releasing a fast (as in very fast) debugger in a
subsequent release. We shall be announcing our work on a Rails debugging
system at a later date.

best wishes
Huw C.
http://www.sapphiresteel.com

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