As part of the study, researchers also found that, on average, software developers spend 50% of their programming time finding and fixing bugs. When projecting this figure onto the total cost of software development, the study estimated that the total cost of debugging software amounts to $312 billion per year. The significant amount of time spent on debugging represented to the researchers an important opportunity to improve development productivity.
Focused on quantifying the potential for improved productivity, this study specifically analyzed the effects of reverse debugging, a technique that allows developers to explore and examine programme behaviour in both the forward and reverse directions. While reverse debugging is a major technology advancement that offers numerous opportunities, the University of Cambridge research is the first study to rigorously measure the potential value of this technique to the global economy.
"This research confirms what our customers have been saying for years about the ability of TotalView to drastically reduce development time and costs during the debugging stage of software development", stated Chris Gottbrath, Rogue Wave Principal Product Manager. "As a market leader in debugging technology, we continually advocate the time and cost savings benefit of ReplayEngine, Rogue Wave's reverse debugging feature, and we are pleased to see robust academic research highlighting this technique as an important opportunity for the global economy."
The study was conducted by the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge as part of its prestigious MBA programme, in collaboration with Cambridge-based Undo Software and with support from Rogue Wave Software. The Judge Business School's Cambridge Venture Project has a long-standing history of students conducting academic research projects and collaborating with the start-up ecosystem to understand the challenges faced by innovators in high-risk, high-pressure environments. Designed to be both quantitative and qualitative, the study was comprised of both in-depth interviews and a comprehensive questionnaire targeted at programmers from different industries.
"The team provided deep and insightful analysis of the true costs of debugging and showed the clear economic benefits of a targeted and efficient approach using reverse debuggers to aid software development", stated Dr. Richard Leaver, CEO of Cambridge Consultancy Greybrook Limited, who mentored the project team.
Designed to improve developer productivity, TotalView simplifies and shortens the process of developing, debugging, and optimizing complex code. It provides a unique combination of capabilities for pinpointing and fixing hard-to-reproduce bugs, memory leaks, and performance issues. TotalView's reverse debugging capability records the execution history of programmes and makes that history available for diagnosis. This new approach - working back from a failure, error, or crash to its root cause - eliminates the need to restart a programme repeatedly with different breakpoint locations. The ability to do reverse debugging, stepping freely both forwards and backwards through programme execution, drastically reduces the amount of time invested in troubleshooting code.