What Is a Software Bug?

The views expressed in this post are the writer's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Aloa or AloaLabs, LLC.

You hear the term "bug" all the time. Someone says their program has a bug. A developer says they have to handle a bug. A project manager says bugs are delaying the project timeline. So what is this bug that everyone is talking about?

For the people with entomophobia out there (fear of insects) you can take a deep breath, because these "bugs" are not literal insects in the software program. A software bug is simply an error in the program, and they are quite common, so don’t be alarmed.

Bugs In Software

The term bug has been used to describe defects in engineering since the late 1800s, far before software was even a concept. As technology progressed, the terms stuck, and thus, defects or errors that arise in programming are referred to as bugs in the system.

In 2016, it was estimated that software bugs had cost the US economy over $1 trillion. Bugs can be detrimental to software systems, leading to debilitating errors and crashes. Given the rise of software development, it is not shocker that the cost of bugs increases. So is our future bleak? Not in the slightest. Welcome to the world of debugging.

Debugging a Software Bug

Debugging is a term that is used to define finding and fixing a software bug. People commonly use formal processes and tools to squash bugs. Some of these processes are cheap and quick, and others are timely and expensive. Thus, the software ecosystem continues to build steps into development that are focused on prevention to help reduce the number of software bugs written, and catch any quick before they cause too much damage.

Most commonly, a software bug happens when the coder themselves makes a logical error in development. Human error is the major player here, so following different programming styles and techniques can help coders reduce the chances of error.

Once the bugs are off to the races, it is important to systematically eliminate them. Enter QA testing. Curious about the process, take a deeper dive by reading through our resource on this topic.Don’t have te time? We’ll give you a quick summary here.

Testing a Software Bug

There are many types of testing that people conduct to ensure the quality of code. They ultimately fall into three buckets: functional, non-functional, and maintenance. Each bucket of testing serves a strong purpose and helps reduce the overall cost of development by recognizing bugs early.

You can use these different testing methods, as well as code analysis and implementation tools, to help yourself systematically identify the software bug (commonly the hardest part of the process) and then begin your debugging endeavor to remove that bug. Again, it takes time, but the time is worth it.

Bugs Are Very Common and Should Be Expected

Bugs are synonymous with software. Writing code is no easy task, and testing every nook and cranny of thousands of lines of code and interactions is either not worth your money or theoretically impossible. Thus, companies big and small all come across software bugs. So if your developer tells you that a bug came up and it is delaying the development, take a breath and understand that this comes with the process.

The best you can do is to know what to expect when you enter the world of software development, and to plan ahead for the inevitable bugs that will come up. This means allowing room in your budget and timeline for unforeseen setbacks, and putting a system in place for testing, finding, and addressing bugs.

Above all, work with your development team and make sure they are capable of handling bug testing and fixing. Communicate your plan to them ahead of issues that may arise.

Happy debugging!

Still have questions about a software bug? Want us to sooth your entomophobia? Well, we probably can’t do that, but we’ll give it a shot! Reach out to us at resources@aloa.co.

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