Monday, April 23, 2007

Root Or Fruit?

As far as bug-fixes are concerned, there are broadly two ways to go:
1) Remove the cause (Solution!)
2) Mask the effect (Hacks!)

For complex systems, before we can possibly arrive at a complete solution, we will need to work at the problem both ways. Attack the root or attack the fruit? Though it is obvious that fixing the root is the ideal solution, often we have to make do with a combination of the two.

Attacking the cause straightaway may not be such a great idea.
1) Incomplete understanding of the system - You might be familiar only with a part of the system.
2) Time-pressure- How many lines of code can you possibly go through before the deadline?

Magnify the effect! Change the effect into something more drastic. This will trigger new lines of thinking.
Remove the effect! Bugs are caused by code; remove the code!
Take breaks. The a-ha moment will often emerge when you are away!