One Thing at a Time

Here is a guideline for debugging. Only change one variable at a time. I am not talking about programming variables. I am talking about one factor in the state of the system.

This can be taken a bit further as well. Make a change and check the result. If the bug was not fixed, undo the change and make exactly one more change. Repeat. The converse is to fix just one thing at a time as well. Then you can go on to other bugs.

Now let's talk a little about tools. Don't throw them away even if they seem like one time tools. You should actually build the tools into the initial design of the system. Make it easy to inspect the internal state of the system during runs.

Next time I will talk about audit trails and logging in general.