Software Development Tools


Cyganek section 2.2

There are a number of tools that we will use in the software development process:

  • Editors / integrated development environments

    Beyond just letting us type in text, these can check syntax, highlight code, autocomplete function / variable names, etc. making it easier to write our code.

  • Version control

    We already had an introduction to git. Good version control is a critical part of the software development process. We will put all of our projects under git control.

  • Compiler

    The job of the compiler is to turn the source code in a file into machine instructions for the computer we are using.

    We will use the GNU Compiler Collection for most of this class. The name of the C++ compiler in GCC is g++.

    g++ supports different language standards depending on what version of the compiler we use. Here is a list of C++ standard support in GCC

  • Linker

    When working with multiple source files or calling function in libraries we need to link all of the compiled code together. g++ will act as the frontend to the linker.

    Sometimes we will be able to compile and link with one command, but these are distinct steps in the process of building a program.

  • Testing

    To ensure that our code gets the correct answer, there are a number of different testing methods we can employ. A simple type of testing is called unit testing, where we write tests for each function (or program unit) to separately test that they work as intended. We’ll look at unit testing toward the end of the semester.

    Once we have some tests, we’d ideally like to automate them. Github allows us to do this via continuous integration, where the tests are run before each change is merged into the main branch of our code repo.

  • Debugging

    When our code is not giving us the expected result, a debugger (like gdb) allows us to step through the execution of the code bit-by-bit and inspect the variables to understand where it is going wrong.

  • Profiler

    One our code is working, we can think about performance. A profiler (like gprof) will give use a report of which functions or even lines in our code are taking the most time. This helps us identify where to spend our time optimizing the code to perform better.

  • Documentation

    Ultimately, when we make our code available, we would like to have documentation explaining how to use our code and how to contribute to its development. We’ll look at some standard documentation tools and how to host a website.