Make Friends with Your Debugger

Thursday, December 3rd @ 2:29 pm CST

Some Background

I do not have a CS degree, nor am I some kind of savant programmer with magical powers and abilities. I began dabbling in programming 7 years ago in my mid-20s and started coding professionally 3 years ago. The early years were spent on simple HTML, CSS and JS, the middle years I fell in love with Ruby on Rails, and the past couple of years I've become one of those NodeJS people (you know the ones, those goofy devs that say everything can be JavaScript 🥴). I've learned much during my short time as a developer, but up until recently I carried with me a secret - a deep, dark secret that I dared not speak of lest the tech deities reveal my imposter syndrome to be a true lack of knowledge in my field.

The Issue

I did not know how to use a proper debugger 😔 Oh sure, I could console.log like there was no tomorrow to debug my applications and modules, but honestly I was intimidated by the debugger tool. It seemed like something that only "real" programmers used, whereas I am just some guy who learned to code in spare time in my mid-to-late 20s. In my mind, only "real" programmers who had been writing code since they were 4 months old and have written their own compilers blindfolded overnight were capable of wielding such a stupidly overpowered piece of tech.

The Resolution

I recently decided to bite the bullet and spend a couple hours configuring a launch script in VS Code for one of my projects. It was a bit cumbersome at first, but once I started to realize the awesome power of being able to set break points, step into/out of the code flow, peek into the state of variables and closures, and all the things, my capability for productivity jumped a few percentage points 📈 And do you know what? It sure does beat the hell out of having to type console statements, then hopefully remembering to remove them before making a commit.

My Message to You

I consider this recent addition to my toolbox a huge victory in my career. I want to encourage anybody else out there with as strong of a sense of imposter syndrome as me to keep on expanding your skills. I'm still no savant, I'm still not nearly as knowledgeable or talented as a majority of developers out there, but I'm more skilled and knowledgeable than I was yesterday and that is all that matters.

Don't allow fear of looking stupid prevent you from doing something smart. 👨🏻‍💻