In the process of mobile app development, encountering bugs and defects in the source code is inevitable. These issues can arise during the development process or even after deployment in the test environment. In such scenarios, developers use various tools and methods to identify and resolve problems in the source code. This process, known as debugging mobile apps, plays a crucial role in ensuring a smooth app performance and overall user satisfaction.
Why Debugging Mobile Apps is Important
A staggering 62% of users will delete an app if they experience crashes, frozen screens, or other issues, emphasizing the importance of thorough debugging. Releasing an app without sufficient testing can lead to dissatisfied users and negative reviews. So app testing is necessary
Debugging offers several other benefits, including saving developers time and increasing productivity. When bugs are detected and resolved quickly, developers can focus on writing new code and maintaining existing code. Although debugging may not be the most exciting part of a developer’s job, it can have a significant impact on an app’s overall success.
Understanding the Debugging Process
The debugging process involves several steps, such as locating the bug’s origin, repairing the issue, or correcting the bug. This may appear to be a simple task, but when various subsystems or modules are tightly connected, debugging can become a nightmare. Debugging and problem fixes can sometimes consume more time than actual development. Developers can identify and eliminate the problem using various tools and methods to streamline the process.
The developer must locate the problematic section of the source code to fix the software or application’s flaw. Depending on the stage of development, several debugging tools might be employed. By analyzing the variables’ values and the functions’ return values, developers may follow the progression of the program’s execution step by step.
Depending on the context and the level of development, different fault kinds need different debugging strategies.
Best Mobile App Debugging Techniques
Here are some effective techniques that will help you debug mobile apps while testing:
· Log Everything
Maintain detailed records of every issue you encounter, the steps taken to resolve them, and the resulting outcomes. This record-keeping helps in exploring multiple solutions and serves as a valuable reference for future debugging efforts. It also aids in understanding the patterns and trends in the problems encountered, helping developers anticipate and prevent similar issues in the future.
· Localize the Problem
To pinpoint the source of an issue, remove lines of code one at a time until you locate the problem causing the app to malfunction. Although this method can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, it is often successful in identifying the root cause of the problem.
· HTML/ CSS Validation
Ensuring cross-browser compatibility for CSS and HTML code can pose significant challenges for developers. This stems from the fact that different browsers interpret and process code in distinct ways. Even a minor oversight, such as neglecting to close a tag, can lead to discrepancies. While some browsers may not render the affected feature, others could automatically correct the error.
One of the most common compatibility concerns can be addressed with a straightforward solution. Developers can utilize W3C-endorsed tools, such as the Jigsaw CSS Validator and the W3C HTML Validator, to validate their HTML and CSS code. By doing so, they can identify and rectify potential issues, ensuring a consistent user experience across various browsers.
Remove or Automate Configuration
Installing a program on a new server can involve multiple steps and prove time-consuming, particularly for new developers joining the team. In the past, it has taken up to three days to complete the installation process, which often requires several manual procedures. As apps evolve into new versions that may be incompatible with previous ones, instructions often remain outdated, causing the setup to take longer than necessary.
However, the advent of containerization has significantly streamlined the process. With tools like Docker, applications can now be launched quickly and effortlessly, without the need for manual configuration. A self-contained Docker image also minimizes the risk of issues arising from varying operating system versions, languages, and frameworks.
This ease of deployment extends to developer setup, including IDE configuration, which can be simplified to reduce startup time. Ideally, a developer should be able to complete the setup process in under 30 minutes, allowing them to work efficiently and effectively.
In situations where production issues arise, it’s crucial to ensure prompt resolution, even if your most experienced specialists are unavailable. By simplifying the setup process, you empower any team member to address the issue swiftly and maintain optimal performance.
· Placing the breakpoints in the application
Using breakpoints strategically allows developers to pause the execution of the code and investigate issues more effectively. Adhere to the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle by having one easily accessible function per user interface event and ensure there is a clear method for identifying breakpoints.
Utilize Debugging Tools
There are numerous debugging tools available for mobile app developers, including Android Studio Debugger for Android apps, Xcode Debugger for iOS apps, and Chrome Developer Tools for web apps. These tools offer features like breakpoints, step-by-step execution, and variable inspection, making it easier for developers to identify and resolve issues in the source code.
Perform Unit Testing
Unit testing involves testing individual components or units of an application separately to ensure they function as expected. This practice helps in isolating issues at an early stage of development, making it easier to identify and fix bugs before they impact other parts of the app.
Conduct Code Reviews
Regular code reviews can help identify potential issues, bugs, or areas for improvement in the source code. This collaborative process encourages knowledge sharing among developers and promotes better coding practices, ultimately reducing the occurrence of issues that require debugging.
Although debugging mobile apps might be seen as a last resort when other methods fail to identify issues, it is an essential phase in the software development lifecycle. Debugging not only helps to identify and resolve errors but also ensures your app’s quality and performance meet user expectations. By implementing these effective debugging techniques, developers can increase efficiency, save time, and ultimately create a successful app that delights users.