Complex logging and debugging in C++

Common tools and new C++20 features

CMP

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When developing complex C++ programs, you will often run into complex issues that are difficult to debug just by looking at the source code. This article introduces various logging and debugging tools and strategies that can be used to analyze these complex bugs.

Debugging Tools

Debugging is hard. It is a difficult skill to master, but it is essential to at least be comfortable with the basics of a standard debugger. GDB is a popular debugger that works best on Unix-based systems, whereas WinDBG is a good option for Windows. These tools allow you to set breakpoints and step through your code line-by-line, as well as see the internals of your program such as local variables, memory registers, stack traces, etc.

For memory-related issues, such as memory leaks or crashes due to invalid memory accesses, Valgrind is a great tool to use alongside GDB. If using WinDBG on Windows, the !analyze -v command will help analyze these types of crashes.

Before doing any of this though, I recommend using a static analysis tool to identify potential issues in your code before runtime. Your compiler will check for syntax issues that will prevent the compilation of your code, but static analysis tools will further analyze your code to detect common bugs beyond syntax problems. Popular static analysis tools include clang-tidy and the open source, cross-platform cppcheck.

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CMP

Software engineer specializing in operating systems, navigating the intracicies of the C++ language and systems programming.