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A.3.5 No, I really need help.

4 September, 2015 - 10:52

It happens. Even the best programmers occasionally get stuck. Sometimes you work on a program so long that you can’t see the error. A fresh pair of eyes is just the thing.

Before you bring someone else in, make sure you are prepared. Your program should be as simple as possible, and you should be working on the smallest input that causes the error. You should have print statements in the appropriate places (and the output they produce should be comprehensible). You should understand the problem well enough to describe it concisely.

When you bring someone in to help, be sure to give them the information they need:

  • If there is an error message, what is it and what part of the program does it indicate?
  • What was the last thing you did before this error occurred? What were the last lines of code that you wrote, or what is the new test case that fails?
  • What have you tried so far, and what have you learned?

When you find the bug, take a second to think about what you could have done to find it faster. Next time you see something similar, you will be able to find the bug more quickly.

Remember, the goal is not just to make the program work. The goal is to learn how to make the program work.