JavaScript Debugging Tools

Gain Insight into JS Errors and Why They Occured

Why are JavaScript Debugging tools important?

The number of web apps and websites that rely on or are built on JavaScript has continued to increase at a massive pace. JavaScript itself is the most popular language used in software development. Of course, with more powerful capabilities and complex codebases comes more errors. 

Debugging these issues is a monumental challenge that every developer faces. Reproduction of bugs, potentially the most important part of the debugging process, is also notoriously difficult due to the variety of browsers and environments in which a bug occurs. 

So what are some JavaScript debugging tools and strategies that you can implement to cut down on the amount of time you spend fixing bugs? 

Server-side JavaScript debugging tools

While running JavaScript server-side is more of a recent occurrence, finding a debugging tool for server-side JavaScript is critical to maintaining application uptime. Luckily there are many backend logging and debugging tools which support JavaScript. Node.js itself has a number of debugging options like debugger. There are also free tools like NDB or Kibana.

Front-end JavaScript debugging tools

When it comes to debugging, the big difference between front-end issues and server side issues is that front-end issues are usually invisible to the developer. Server side errors can easily be logged to the server, whereas only the end-user will see a front-end bug. The normal flow when debugging a front-end JavaScript issue is: 

  1. User submits a bug to a support team or through a webform
  2. The issue gets escalated to an engineer
  3. The engineer tries to reproduce the bug
  4. If the bug is found, the engineer will develop and push a fix
  5. If the bug is not found, the engineer might reach out to the end user to send screenshots or get on a call. 

All in all, this is a cumbersome and time consuming process. A JavaScript debugging tool can help reduce the amount of time spent at each one of these stages. Here are some examples: 

  • DevTools (or similar): This built-in browser functionality is the most basic and first step when attempting to validate or recreate a JavaScript bug. Using the console to view warnings, errors, and stracktraces gives insight into an error - if it is able to be reproduced. 
  • Browserstack (or similar): This group of tools helps a developer mimic the exact operating system and browser setup that a user had when they experienced a JS error. With millions of different browser + OS combinations, these are a must-have. 
  • JS Hint (or similar): these tools help prevent errors in the first place as well as ensure that a fix will work. They are extremely easy to use and help cut down on careless mistakes or syntax errors. 
  • LogRocket (or similar): Tools like LogRocket are specifically designed to make the entire JavaScript debugging process more efficient. LogRocket, for example, creates a recording of a user session along with any JavaScript errors that the user experienced so there is no need to reproduce the bug. In addition, LogRocket automatically identifies, aggregates and tracks JavaScript errors over time, so developers can debug JavaScript errors without a user having to report them. 

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JavaScript Debugging Tools