The story of the rubber duck and the software engineering
What does a rubber duck have to do with software engineering?
Here’s the story: sometimes, when a software engineer discovers a bug in the code they’ve written, sometimes it’s impossible to find, no matter how many times they trace their steps. When this happens, it’s often said that telling someone how they got there can be very useful. Explaining the steps, they took to write the code makes it easier to find bugs.
Occasionally developers don’t have anyone near to talk about this. That’s why they say many software developers keep a rubber duck handy, so they can talk to someone when this happens.
This is known as the “rubber duck debugging” method, a term coined in the book “The Pragmatic Programmer”. Software engineers have used other toys and figures over time, but the duck remains a classic.
We love this cute idea, and we think the rubber duck method can be extended to other areas of life to analyze situations, identify mistakes, or join the dots. Perhaps it could help us concentrate before a race, make difficult decisions or reflect on bigger mistakes than software bugs.