Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The pdb python interactive debugging - part 001.

This is a short intro tutorial on python debugger to summarize this topic related to Python.
According to the development team, this python module called pdb has the following objectives:
The module pdb defines an interactive source code debugger for Python programs. It supports setting (conditional) breakpoints and single stepping at the source line level, inspection of stack frames, source code listing, and evaluation of arbitrary Python code in the context of any stack frame. It also supports post-mortem debugging and can be called under program control.

Let's start it with some example:
Python 2.7.13 (v2.7.13:a06454b1afa1, Dec 17 2016, 20:42:59) [MSC v.1500 32 bit (Intel)] on win32
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import pdb
>>> pdb.pm()
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "", line 1, in 
  File "C:\Python27\lib\pdb.py", line 1270, in pm
AttributeError: 'module' object has no attribute 'last_traceback'
>>> import os
>>> pdb.pm()
> c:\python27\lib\pdb.py(1270)pm()
-> post_mortem(sys.last_traceback)
(Pdb) ?

Documented commands (type help ):
EOF    bt         cont      enable  jump  pp       run      unt
a      c          continue  exit    l     q        s        until
alias  cl         d         h       list  quit     step     up
args   clear      debug     help    n     r        tbreak   w
b      commands   disable   ignore  next  restart  u        whatis
break  condition  down      j       p     return   unalias  where

Miscellaneous help topics:
exec  pdb

Undocumented commands:
retval  rv
As you can see, this module will work correctly with just another python module. In the example presented above is the os python module.
With the argument? we can see the commands that we can execute.
Let's see the list command ( l ):
(Pdb) l
1265        p = Pdb()
1266        p.reset()
1267        p.interaction(None, t)
1269    def pm():
1270 ->     post_mortem(sys.last_traceback)
1273    # Main program for testing
1275    TESTCMD = 'import x; x.main()'
You can see the pm function loaded by pdb python module.
Post-mortem debugging is a method that requires an environment that provides dynamic execution of code.
One of the greatest benefits of post-mortem debugging is that you can use it directly after something has gone wrong.
You can move between frames within the current call stack using up and down.
This moves towards older frames on the stack.
The debugger prints the current location with where, see example:
(Pdb) where
> c:\python27\lib\pdb.py(1270)pm()
-> post_mortem(sys.last_traceback)
To execute the current line and then stop at the next execution point use step.
The until command can be used to step past the end of a loop.
Use break command used for setting breakpoints, example: (Pdb) break 4.
Turning off a breakpoint with disabling tells the debugger not to stop when that line is reached, example: (Pdb) disable 1.
Also, we can have the other breakpoints like conditional breakpoints and temporary breakpoint.
Use clear to delete a breakpoint entirely.
Changing execution flow with the jump command lets you alter the flow of your program.
The jump can be ahead and back and moves the point of execution past the location without evaluating any of the statements in between.
We can also have illegal jumps in and out of certain flow control statements prevented by the debugger.
When the debugger reaches the end of your program, it automatically starts it over.
With run command, the program can be restarted.
We can avoid typing complex commands repeatedly by using alias and unalias to define the shortcuts.
The pdb python module lets you save configuration using text files read and interpreted on startup.