Desk checking is the process of manually reviewing the source code of a program. It involves reading through the functions within the code and manually testing them, often with multiple input values. Developers may desk check their code before releasing a software program to make sure the algorithms are functioning efficiently and correctly.
The term "desk checking" refers to the manual approach of reviewing source code (sitting a desk), rather than running it through a debugger or another automated process. In some cases, a programmer may even use a pencil and paper to record the process and output of functions within a program. For example, the developer may track the value of one or more variables in a function from beginning to end. Manually going through the code line-by-line may help a programmer catch improper logic or inefficiencies that a software debugger would not.
While desk checking is useful for uncovering logic errors and other issues within a program's source code, it is time-consuming and subject to human error. Therefore, an IDE or debugging tool is better suited for detecting small problems, such as syntax errors. It is also helpful to have more than one developer desk check a program to reduce the likelihood of overlooking errors in the source code.