Debugging Series 2021: Welcome to the Jungle


That’s right – you are about to ride along with us on the always unpredictable and often frightening rollercoaster known to developers and designers as debugging, a.k.a., Why the **** isn’t my code working???

A photo showing a man staring intently at his laptop repeated twice. The first photo is labeled, "My code doesn't work. I have no idea why." The second photo is labeled, "My code works. I have no idea why."

At this point the analogy breaks down a little, because while debugging can definitely take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, this is actually the beginning of a three-month journey we’re going to be taking in the thoughtbot blog. So maybe a Jungle Cruise is more in line with what we’re going for.

Right. Let’s get some basics pinned down:

Why are we writing this series? What’s the motivation?

Many designers and developers aren’t taught about debugging as part of their education. An individual might work for years before learning about advanced or seemingly basic techniques. We’re sharing the insights, techniques, and tips of multiple thoughtbotters to boost your knowledge of debugging, no matter where you are in your career. No need to thrash around for a decade learning things haphazardly!

Who is this series for?

Developers and designers at all levels of debugging mastery, from absolute beginners to masters at the top of the mountain and every level in between. Remember: a novice can always learn something from the most arcane subject, and a master can always hone their skills by practicing their fundamentals.

What language are you focused on?

None in particular! This will be a language-agnostic series, with thoughts and experiences from all kinds of languages.

Who is writing this series?

Three critically-renowned and award-winning authors, famous on Earth and many light-years away for their wit and wisdom (and their snack mojo):

They stand on the shoulders of other giants from both thoughtbot and beyond!

How do I follow along?

When a new post comes out, we’ll add a link to it below. You can also find all the articles by searching for the debugging-series-2021 tag.

  1. Debugging Series 2021: Welcome to the Jungle (this article)
  2. Getting Unstuck
  3. Listing Your Assumptions
  4. Navigating the Maze
  5. Reasoning Strategies from Classical Philosophy
  6. Indiana Jones and the Crypt of Cryptic Error Messages
  7. Debugging Series Summer Break
  8. Using a Function Design Recipe to Debug
  9. Debugging at the Boundaries

Did you say three months?

Yep! We’re going to post one article a week starting today and running through the first week or so of July 2021.

Do I have to read these posts in order?

Nope! Well, you can. We are authoring a carefully-crafted, sweeping story of code and mistakes, assumptions and fallacies, and love and betrayal, taking you on a journey through the wilderness of the mind, but you can totally jump around if you want to. If one article isn’t to your liking, it could indicate a deficiency on your part, but it could also be on our part, too. So read whatever resonates with you, whenever you’re ready to read it!

What kinds of topics will you be covering?

All kinds of things! Assumptions. Charting a course. Reading errors. Leveraging Git. Root causes. Classical philosophy. Giving up gracefully. And ducks.

WOW! You’re going to do all this yourselves?

No, we definitely had help! In addition to scouring our own blog for debugging articles, we’ve interviewed the following thoughtbotters, who generously sat with us and bared their soul with their own debugging journeys:

That’s all for now. But tune in next week, when our journey will begin with our first topic: Getting Unstuck.