11 Error Handling, Debugging, and Testing

We often see the majority of a programmer's "programming" time spent on checking for bugs and working on bug fixes. Whether you are refactoring code or re-configuring systems, much of your time will undoubtedly be spent troubleshooting and testing. From the outside, people may think that all we do as programmers is design our systems and then write our code. They might think that we have the ideal job! We do work that is very engaging, and implement systems that have never been done before. While this last part may be true, what they don't know is that we spend the majority of our time cycling between troubleshooting, debugging and testing our code! Of course, if you have good programming habits and the technological solutions to help you take on these tasks, then you can minimize the time spent doing these things, enabling you to focus instead on more valuable things like the application logic.

Unfortunately, many programmers are not thorough in fulfilling their error handling, debugging and testing responsibilities beforehand. Inexperienced programmers will often only make an effort to find errors and flaws after they have occurred, spending hours locating and fixing problems after the application is already online. It's good practice (and probably common sense) that we should design our applications with proper error handling, test cases, etc., from the get go. This will make your job, and the jobs of all the other developers who may be working on your application someday, much easier when they inevitably need to modify the code or upgrade the system.

In the process of developing web applications, you will inevitably encounter unforeseen errors. What's the most efficient way of finding the causes of these errors and solving them? Section 11.1 describes how to handle errors in the Go language as well as how to design your own error handling package and functions. Section 11.2 describes how to use GDB to debug programs under dynamic operating conditions, depending on a variety of variable information. We then discuss application monitoring and debugging operations.

Section 11.3 will explain unit testing in Go and feature some in-depth discussions and examples on how to write unit tests, as well as defining Go's unit testing rules. We'll see how following these rules will ensure that when upgrading or modifying your application, the test code will be able to run smoothly.

Many programmers avoid spending time to learn and cultivate good debugging and testing habits. This chapter takes on these issues head-on so you won't have to run away from these tasks any longer. Since you're just learning how to build web applications in Go, let's use this opportunity to establish these good habits from the very beginning.

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