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Top Ten Reasons Not to Use a Java Debugger in School

by Gary Litvin

  1. You shouldn't be denied an opportunity to help others find their bugs.

  2. Taking a close look at your code helps you finally understand how it works.

  3. Learning how to use a debugger takes away precious time from class.

  4. To use a debugger effectively, you must know what to look for. This skill is acquired gradually. Experiment first with strategically placing debugging printouts in your code or commenting out fragments of code.

  5. If you have trouble tracing your code without a debugger, you will structure it better next time.

  6. A debugger may be not very helpful for finding typical beginner's bugs, such as a misspelled redefined method's name, an == instead of equals, or a missing repaint.

  7. Beginners' bugs are often the size of an elephant. You can waste a lot of time searching for one with a microscope.

  8. Searching for bugs with your bare hands helps you accept responsibility for them and write bug-free code in the future.

  9. Looking for bugs manually teaches you to reason about your own and other people's code -- an important skill.

  10. Finding bugs manually is one of only a few real problem-solving activities in programming. You should not be denied this opportunity.

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