debuggers - request for information

Arne Watnelie <>
Wed, 12 Jul 1995 17:35:30 GMT

          From comp.compilers

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Newsgroups: comp.compilers
From: Arne Watnelie <>
Keywords: debug, design, question, comment
Organization: Compilers Central
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 1995 17:35:30 GMT

[This was originally posted to "", a mailing
list about bugs in gdb. I was recommended to repost it to
comp.compilers by people reading that mailing list.]

First of all; excuse me for being a "little bit" off the topic of this

I'm writing a master thesis on the subject of debugging, and about an
implementation of a debugger with a new view on how one may debug programs.
(I'm a little abstract here, but the thesis and the program isn't written
yet :-)...)

The debugger will be written for C in an Unix environment. Probably using gdb
instead of hacking the basic machine-depended functions myself, instead I
will use my time to think up and implement higher, more powerful functions
a debugger may provide a user.

In the work with my master thesis, I have searched internet and libraries
for debugging related information, with little luck. Maybe I'm the only one
who don't manage to write correct programs? :-)

Any pointers to related information, either in books or on the internet,
would be very, very welcome.

Some suggestions about what type of information am I looking for:
1) Historical information about the birth of debugging.
      When did the need for debuggers arise? First debugger made?
2) Technical information about debugging.
      How is breakpoints etc. implemented?
      How is the standard format of debugging code made by gcc and used by
      (For me this will be background information. In my implementation, I
        will probably use gdb to do the dirty, low level job for me, and spend
        my time on more high level functions.)
3) Have anybody made any creative, new debuggers who breaks the tradition
      of using breakpoints, stepping etc.? Implementing new, untraditional
      approaches to the debugging task?
      (Like when people suddenly made cursor-oriented editors instead of
        line-oriented/command-oriented editors.)
4) Any nice window/point and click debuggers out there?
      (Which is something else than a traditional debugger splited into more
        than one window.)
5) Debuggers vs adding extra code in the program manually to track down and
      correct bugs. What may you do with extra code that a debugger can't
      offer, and what may a debugger offer that extra code can't help you
6) Why do so many people use debuggers only as the last resort, when all
      other alternatives have failed?

Thanks for reading and any help you may offer!

Arne Watnelie //
[The first interactive debugger I know of was DDT for the PDP-1 in 1960,
but I doubt it was the first. -John]

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