The Limitations of Traditional Debuggers in a Live Production Environment

Sep 23, 2023

In light of the profound shifts witnessed in the tech industry over the past decades, it's crucial to acknowledge the drawbacks of relying solely on VS Code's default debugger, especially in production environments. Here are the key disadvantages:

Ineffectiveness in Production Environments

Traditional debugging methods, which entail halting and manually controlling process execution, are impractical in a production setting. With the prevalence of agile methodologies, developers now devote more time to fixing bugs in the staging and production phases rather than during initial development. As a result, the emphasis is shifting towards runtime observability and monitoring rather than conventional debugging.

Incompatibility with Cloud-Native Applications

Debuggers were never designed with cloud-native applications in mind. These applications are spread across numerous containers, and although VS Code's remote debugging can support containerized applications, it's limited to long-running processes. In contrast, cloud-native deployment utilizes transient containers that can't be effectively managed through the VS Code debugger interface. Moreover, the traditional debugging approach falls short of uncovering elusive bugs stemming from data races or deadlocks, which are common in complex cloud-native applications spanning hundreds of containers.

Irrelevance in the Age of AI

Contemporary AI-based applications rely on intricate data models for decision-making rather than conventional control flow logic. The VS Code debugger interface is ill-equipped to handle such processes, as they demand a higher level of observability and analysis beyond simple business logic manipulation.

Security Concerns in Remote Debugging

Implementing remote debugging opens specific ports on the remote computer where the process is executed. While VS Code supports SSH-based connections for secure access, it lacks additional measures to enforce Identity & Access Management (IAM)-like permissions. This scenario may lead to debug-enabled applications running in production environments with shared credentials among development teams, potentially paving the way for future security breaches.

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