Possible Scenarios of Bugs in Development: How to Avoid and Develop Bug-free ProgramsDCI
Bugs are a fact of life for any software developer. However, this does not mean that they have to become an overwhelming problem. While developing 100% bug-free programs might be an utopic vision, there are many procedures that can be used to minimize the impact of bugs, which can be quite devastating. For example, 40% of system failures are caused by software bugs, and 60% of system vulnerabilities can be attributed to common memory and concurrency related bugs, according to Gurok.com. In this article we’re going to take a look at some proven techniques which can prevent the release of buggy software.
1. Using Specifications
A piece of software is always developed with a goal in mind. The clearer the goal, the more likely it is to be achieved. As such, developers should start every project by writing down specifications which contain all the relevant requirements and technical implementation details. These specifications will help guide the development process and map out any required workarounds. Using this technique ensures that, even though it may not be perfect, a piece of software meets the business needs it is developed for.
2. Code Reviews
Code reviews are a basic necessity and a relatively cheap way to spot bugs and redundancies early on. Having programmers look over each other’s codes can greatly reduce the number of bugs, and it is an important technique for complicated and security related code.
3. Dedicated Testers
If you take code reviews a step further, you have dedicated testers. If you have the budget for it, you should have a least one tester per developer for simple applications, and two or more for complicated applications that need extensive testing.
3. Automated Testing
Automated GUI tests and unit tests can be used to guarantee the functionality of user interfaces, APIs and application modules. These tests can and should be used by every developer on key parts of the application to ensure software functionality and reliability. There are plenty of web and GUI testing tools, and unit testing frameworks that can be used for this purpose.
Logging is a useful technique for identifying bugs and finding concurrency problems during development and production usage. For maximum efficiency, you should avoid writing your own basic logging framework, and instead focus on proven tools and libraries such as open source and commercial offerings.
5. Beta Testing
No matter how much you test for bugs in a closed off, controlled environment, you will never be able to spot every problem that can arise. This is where beta testing comes in. Beta testing should be done for major releases only, and after the software has been thoroughly tested by your internal teams. In this way, when the software reaches the general public, you will get to see for the first time how it interacts with the many different system configurations out there, and react accordingly.
6. Error Reports
Once your product is in beta, or even fully released, you want to make sure that your users actually report your errors. In most cases, especially with the trial version of your software, users will encounter an error and simply uninstall your program. To circumvent this, you want your application to bring up a dialog box when an error occurs. This dialog box will allow the user to send back an error report which contains all the information regarding the crash, including log files, version numbers, call stacks and error messages.
7. User Feedback
Similar to error reports, user feedback will give you access to invaluable information which would normally not reach you. By implementing a feedback button within your UI, and using a short survey during the uninstall process, you can find out what bothers users, but does not outright break the software. For example, many users will uninstall a piece of software due to stability issues, and an uninstall survey could give you the insight necessary to fix the problem.
The dream of completely bug-free software is impossible to achieve. However, there are many ways to ensure that a piece of software reaches prospective customers in the best shape possible, and once it’s met the cold harsh realities of retail, an application can be improved through continuous iterations of user feedback and patches.