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When a bug gets you stuck, explain it to a rubber duck.

The Pragmatic Programmer

The Pragmatic Programmer

by David Thomas

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Why some programmers talk to rubber ducks

Talking to an inanimate object like a rubber duck is a debugging technique called rubber duck debugging.

The term was shaped in 1999 by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas - the authors of the book The Pragmatic Programmer.

Why it works

Explaining a problem (it doesn't even have to be a bug in programming) helps to look at the problem from a different perspective. That helps to better understand what one is trying to accomplish and often the error is almost obvious while explaining it to someone else.

A very simple but particularly useful technique for finding the cause of a problem is simply to explain it to someone else. The other person should look over your shoulder at the screen, and nod his or her head constantly (like a rubber duck bobbing up and down in a ba...

Rubber Duck vs. Person

Rubber duck/Inanimate object:

  • very patient listener
  • has infinite time
  • is always available
  • holds back on feedback

Person/Colleague/Friend

  • not always available
  • might not have time/patience to listen to the whole problem
  • mig...

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