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Chapter 17. Troubleshooting > Staying Out of Trouble

Staying Out of Trouble

Whether you're writing applications that only you will use, that your coworkers will use, or that a client has hired you to build, the best thing to do with trouble is to avoid it. When we think of software bugs, we think of users or developers cursing the foibles of machines and wishing that “the software (or the tools) just worked better.” The truth is, the overwhelming majority of problems in software are caused by human mistakes, and often those humans are programmers. So, clearly, as programmers, we should avoid making mistakes! Let's look at some typical sources of programmer mistakes.

Understand Software Requirements

On the one hand, the need to understand requirements might seem obvious, and on another it might seem a bit far afield from this chapter's topic, but as far as preventing software error, understanding requirements is at the top of the food chain. If you don't know what the software you're writing is supposed to do, it's very unlikely that it will work correctly. Oh, it may work correctly from a technical perspective; it won't necessarily crash, or scramble data. But from a user's perspective it'll be just as bad. If you misunderstood how your client calculates mortgage futures, then from her perspective, the software is broken.


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