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The Bug Story

Posted by hiheiss on April 18, 2007 at 11:59 AM PDT

Brian Harry, a.k.a. the "bug guy," talks at length about bugs in a article by yours truly, Getting the Bugs Out: A Conversation With Bug Fixer Brian Harry. Harry, winner of a Duke's Choice Award, fixed Java SE 6 bugs numbering into the hundreds. His method: he scanned Sun's openly available bug database for intriguing bugs, primarily in the Swing user interface code, printed them out, and put the bug reports on a stack beside his computer. Then, he fixed them one by one, submitting them through the standard JDK Community contribution process.

The interview gives the details:

* He points out that fixing bugs is a great way to understand
how the code works. To James Gosling's bug rule, “If you don't
see the bug where you're looking, perhaps you're looking in the
wrong place.” Brian adds: "The place where you find bugs may not
be the right place to put a fix in".

* His basic advice: “First, always acquire the test that’s attached
to the bug report... Next, ask yourself if it’s really a bug... Also,
consider writing different solutions... As to writing unit tests, look
at what the patched code interacts with.”

* Swing tip 1: "Try to be comprehensive in testing the patch with different
LAFs (Look and Feels)."

* Swing tip 2: "Make sure that the test case is running on the EDT
(event dispatch thread). If it isn't, you may not have a bug, but
instead just have bad programming."

* "If you’re doing a Java code fix, don't just look at the current version of
the platform. I’ve routinely tested out bug tests on 4, 5, and 6 to investigate
when a problem started and stopped. See if you can find why something started."

IMHO, there's lots more of value. Have a look please and tell me what you think...

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