Debugging on Mobile is Too Hard

Debugging on Mobile is Too Hard

Play this article

I write one article out of my comfort zone (Clean Code / Refactoring / Code Smells) every month.

I founded a startup 10 years ago to develop Android and IOS mobile Apps, so it is not too far away from my knowledge.

TL;DR: Some tips and tricks on how to debug a Mobile Application

Why Debugging Mobile Software is Harder than Desktop / Web Software?

The Problem

Debugging mobile software can be a challenging task, but it is an essential part of the development process.

It can be harder than debugging desktop or web software for several reasons.

One of the main challenges is the wide variety of mobile devices and operating systems that are available.

This can make it difficult to test and debug mobile software.

We need to ensure that our software works on a wide range of devices with different hardware and software configurations.

Another challenge with debugging mobile software is the limited resources available on mobile devices.

Mobile devices are smaller and have less processing power, memory, and storage than desktop or laptop computers.

We need complex debugging tools and processes on mobile devices, as they may not have the resources to support them.

Mobile software often relies on network connections and other external resources, such as sensors and cameras.

This can make it difficult to debug mobile software, as issues may be caused by external factors such as network connectivity or device hardware.

With the right tools and strategies, it is possible to debug code on a mobile device.

Here are some tips and best practices:

Some Solutions

One of the first steps in debugging mobile software is to identify the problem.

We can do it by reproducing the issue and observing the behavior of the software.

We can use a variety of tools and techniques to help them identify the root cause of the problem, such as logging, debugging tools, and testing frameworks.

Once we identify the problem, we need to modify the code and run it again, use debugging tools to step through the code, or use testing frameworks to identify and fix bugs.

Remote Debuggers

Our first ally is a remote debugger.

A debugger is a tool that allows us to pause the execution of our code, inspect variables and data, and step through the code line by line.

This can help us to identify the source of the problem and come up with a solution.

We should use a device with a powerful processor and plenty of memory.

Debugging code can be resource-intensive, so it's important to use a mobile device that has a powerful processor and enough memory to handle the demands of debugging.

We need to ensure that our device can keep up with the demands of the debugging process and minimize the chances of the device crashing or becoming unresponsive.

We can also connect most mobile devices to a computer using a USB cable.

Many mobile devices come with a built-in remote debugger that allows you to connect to the device from a computer and debug your code remotely.

This can be a convenient way to debug code on a mobile device, especially if your device is not connected to a computer or if you need to debug your code on multiple devices at the same time.

In addition to remote debuggers, there are also mobile-specific debuggers that are designed specifically for debugging code on mobile devices.

These debuggers often come with a range of features and tools that are specifically tailored to the needs of mobile developers, such as the ability to simulate different device configurations or network conditions.

Devices come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and configurations, so it's important to test your code on as many different devices and operating systems as possible.

This will help you identify and fix any issues that may be specific to certain devices or operating systems, and ensure that your code works as intended on a wide range of devices.

Emulators

One way to overcome these limitations is to use a mobile device with a larger screen, such as a tablet.

A tablet can provide more screen real estate, which can make it easier to see and interact with your code.

Some tablets come with a keyboard and stylus, which can provide a more traditional input experience when working with code.

Testing Frameworks

We can also use a variety of testing frameworks to help them debug our mobile software.

Testing frameworks allow us to create automated tests we can run against our software to identify and fix bugs.

This can help to ensure that our software is of high quality and performs well on a variety of devices.

Logging

There are many logging that can be used to help debug code on a mobile device. For example, you can use log messages to print information about the state of your code.

Some logging tools are:

Crashlytics is a crash reporting tool that allows you to track and analyze crashes in your mobile app.

With Crashlytics, you can see detailed information about crashes in your app, including the stack trace and the device and OS version where the crash occurred.

This information can help you quickly identify and fix issues that are causing crashes in your app.

Logcat is a logging tool that is part of the Android SDK and allows you to view and filter log messages generated by your app and the Android system.

It is a powerful tool that can help you identify and debug issues with your app, such as crashes, performance issues, and incorrect behavior.

If you are developing an iOS app, you can use the Xcode Debug Console to view and filter log messages generated by your app.

The Debug Console provides a similar set of features to Logcat, and allows you to easily identify and debug issues with your iOS app.

HockeyApp is a platform for distributing, testing, and collecting feedback on mobile apps.

In addition to providing tools for distributing and testing your app, HockeyApp also includes an amazing logging feature.

You can also build your own custom logging tool.

Performance Testing

You can use performance profiling tools to help identify and fix performance issues in your code.

Some tools allow you to collect detailed information about the performance of your code, such as the amount of CPU and memory usage, the number of function calls, and the execution time of your code.

This information can help you identify areas of your code that may be causing performance issues, and then take steps to optimize and improve the performance of your code.

Mobile Webapps

There are several ways to test mobile webapps on browsers, including the following:

Most modern web browsers, such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, have a built-in mobile browser emulator that allows you to simulate how your webapp will look and function on a mobile device.

To access the emulator, you can open the developer tools in your web browser and select the "Emulate" tab.

From here, you can choose the type of mobile device you want to simulate and adjust the screen size, pixel density, and other settings to match the device you are testing on.

You can test your mobile webapp using a physical mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet.

To do this, you can either open the webapp in the mobile device's web browser and test it directly, or you can use a tool like Appium to run your webapp in an emulator or simulator on the device.

Another option is to use a cloud-based testing service, such as BrowserStack or Sauce Labs, which allows you to test your webapp on a variety of different mobile devices and browsers.

These services provide a wide range of mobile devices that you can use to test your webapp, as well as tools for automating your tests and collecting detailed reports on the performance and functionality of your webapp.

Regardless of which method you choose, it is important to test your mobile webapp on a variety of different mobile devices and browsers to ensure that it works properly and provides a good user experience on all devices.

The Process

Once you have the appropriate tools in place, the process of debugging code on mobile devices is similar to debugging code on a desktop or laptop computer.

You can use techniques such as breakpoints, stepping through code, and inspecting variables to identify and fix bugs in your code.

One important consideration when debugging code on mobile devices is the performance of your code.

Mobile devices often have limited processing power and memory compared to desktop or laptop computers, which can affect the performance of your code.

This can make it difficult to debug performance issues.

The behavior of your code on a mobile device may be different than on a desktop or laptop computer.

Debugging mobile software can be a challenging task, but it is an essential part of the development process.

By using a combination of tools, techniques, and testing frameworks, we can identify and fix issues in our code, ensuring that our software is of high quality and performs well on a variety of devices.