posted on 01.01.2009, 00:00by Andrew Ko, Brad A. Myers
Debugging and diagnostic tools are some of the most
important software development tools, but most expect
developers choose the right code to inspect. Unfortunately,
this rarely occurs. A new tool called the Whyline is
described which avoids such speculation by allowing
developers to select questions about a program’s output.
The tool then helps developers work backwards from output
to its causes. The prototype, which supports Java programs,
was evaluated in an experiment in which participants
investigated two real bug reports from an open source
project using either the Whyline or a breakpoint debugger.
Whyline users were successful about three times as often
and about twice as fast compared to the control group, and
were extremely positive about the tool’s ability to simplify
diagnostic tasks in software development work.