Debugging is the task of finding and fixing bugs (or errors) in a software program. Bugs can range from small inconveniences (like ignoring user input in certain circumstances) or significant problems that can cause memory leaks or crashes. Several methods are available for software developers to debug a program, including using a debugger or analyzing crash reports.

Software developers debug their software before releasing it to catch as many errors as possible before the application is available to the public. It's unlikely that a developer can find every bug the first time, so most developers have a process for getting bug feedback from users. A developer may release an early version of their software, known as a beta version, to a limited set of users that help identify errors. They can ask for bug reports directly from end users or include specialized code in their software that automatically sends the developer crash reports. After another round of debugging, the developer issues a patch.

Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) include debuggers that help developers debug an application's source code. These debuggers run an application's source code in a few special ways — a debugger can run a program step-by-step, pausing between steps to make it easier to identify where errors appear; a debugger can modify a program's source code as it is running in order to make changes on the fly; or, it can also record a program's activity for later playback and analysis.

Updated October 31, 2022 by Brian P.

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