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How to Debug Swift for Beginners

Paul Larkin - December 29, 2020

If you dream of designing software for Apple IOS and Mac OS, you’ll need to learn the most common Apple languages. As an Apple developer, you’ll become familiar with C and Objective C, which have been Apple’s building blocks for many years. To be a competitive IOS/OS programmer, though, you’ll need to become a Swift-development whiz. Swift is a new language designed for Apple platforms that combine the best of the earlier programming languages into a powerful and easy-to-use coding option, and you can expect to use it more and more as Apple moves into the future. That’s why it’s crucial to know how to debug Swift.

We’ll help you get started on your Swift debugging adventures by going over the Swift debugging process and explaining how to systematically walk through your code to identify and squash any bugs you find. We’ll show you how a good debugger can make the difference between painless error identification and correction, and an agonizing and frustrating buggy nightmare. Before long, you’ll be cutting through Swift errors like a scythe through tall grass.

Look out, bugs! Here comes a curved knife!

Use a Debugger

While Swift is the latest and greatest Apple language and has lots of exciting bells and whistles to make your programming experience easier and more intuitive, its debugging toolkit needs augmentation for best results. You’ll find that a quality debugger will make your error-elimination tasks much quicker and more effective. A debugger gives you the advantage of not having to track down your errors in a production environment and, instead, clear up any potential issues in a closed, confined setup before bringing the code into the real world.

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You can find many excellent Swift debuggers on GitHub and other developer forums. I recommend LLDB , which has a good set of features to let you dig into your code. It’s an excellent choice when you’re looking for a little extra muscle in your debugging process. Because LLDB is open-source software, it is continually updated, too. Make sure to check the LLDB GitHub repository whenever you use LLDB to ensure that you’re running the latest version.

Go Through Your Variable Values

You’ve found a debugger that works for you and are ready to get on with this error-correction rodeo. So, how do you use the debugger to fix your code? You’ll need to use the debugger to examine your variable values throughout the program. That might sound intimidating, but determining values are what debuggers are all about, and they make the process as painless as possible. Your debugger will let you move from expression to expression and walk you through your variables until you find the one that you need to change.

Maybe you’re not getting the expected answer when you run a particular function. You can jury-rig a patch by adding a line of code that results in the correct answer no matter what– but that’s sloppy and is a workaround rather than a solution. You’re much better off using the command “(lldb) e” followed by a variable or expression (when using LLDB).  Other debuggers have similar commands. When you run this command, your debugger will pull apart your specified variable or expression and allow you to examine its parts.

That’s the long and short of it. Swift is the newest and fanciest Apple programming language, and learning it is a requirement for any up-and-coming developer. Along with knowing how to write Swift, though, you’ll need to know how to debug it, and our guide will help you create a viable debugging process that allows you to squash Swift bugs in a flash. You’ll be stunned at how easy it can be.

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Paul Larkin

About the author: Paul Larkin has years of experience in the tech industry and writes about cybersecurity and future of work.

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