On Edit and Continue

Dennis Forbes talks about “Edit and Continue” in VS 2005 and asks “Is it, coupled with similar tool advances, making programmers sloppier, though?”

I think so…

In the Visual C++ debugger we’ve had “Edit and Continue” for years but I turned it off a long time ago as I didn’t find it that helpful. It enables and encourages quick hacky experimental fixes to running code. I never really liked that idea, I usually prefer to think about the problem rather than just hacking in a fix, and back in the early days of VC6 the whole incremental link/edit and continue thing sometimes introduced interesting bugs that seemed to go away if you did a full clean build. I’m sure the Edit and Continue support is much better these days but I find that using unit tests usually means that I spend less time in a debugger; which is handy since some of the development enviornments that my clients use don’t have a debugger installed (go figure)… If you get adicted to living in the debugger and thinking of code as something so fluid that you can change it at any point, even during execution, then it’s hard to break the habit and be productive if you have to drop back to the bad old days of printf debugging or worse

Of course I’m sure there are plenty of people who couldn’t live without Edit and Continue, I’m just not one of them.