What Programmers Know About Debugging And How They Use Their IDE Debuggers

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As new bugs are discovered continuously, software developers often face the task of locating and fixing the defect causing the failure, called debugging. Based on the absence of behavioral studies on this subject in literature, this study aims to get more insights into how developers think of debugging and how they debug in their IDE. To this end, after searching for common issues with debugging on StackOverflow, we conducted an online survey on developers' perception on debugging. In addition, we developed a plugin to instrument Eclipse and IntelliJ in order to look for common debugging behavior. Amongst others, we found that while the vast majority of survey respondents claims to be using the IDE debugger, most plugin users actually do not use it. Furthermore, we found that the amount of testing performed or programming experience has limited to no impact on the time spent debugging. In general, the results give a strong indication that we need to review some commonly accepted beliefs on debugging.