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Debugging for Reactive Programming

Guido Salvaneschi
2016
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Description

Reactive programming is a recent programming technique that provides dedicated language abstractions for reactive software. Reactive programming relieves developers from manually updating outputs when the inputs of a computation change, it overcomes a number of well-know issues of the Observer design pattern, and it makes programs more comprehensible. Unfortunately, complementing the new paradigm with proper tools is a vastly unexplored area. Hence, as of now, developers can embrace reactive programming only at the cost of a more challenging development process. In this paper, we investigate a primary issue in the field: debugging programs in the reactive style. We analyze the problem of debugging reactive programs, show that the reactive style requires a paradigm shift in the concepts needed for debugging, and propose RP Debugging, a methodology for effectively debugging reactive programs. These ideas are implemented in Reactive Inspector, a debugger for reactive programs integrated with the Eclipse Scala IDE. Evaluation based on a controlled experiment shows that RP Debugging outperforms traditional debugging techniques.
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