What is a Coding Duck?

In this article we’ll be talking about one of the most useful tools in a programmer’s arsenal, and it’s definitely not as high tech as you may think. A coding duck is the most simple debugging tool that a programmer uses regularly and still so many people outside the tech industry have ever heard of it. As a programmer I know from first-hand experience that people are shocked to find out that a coding duck is exactly what it sounds like: a little rubber ducky that you talk to when you’re having a problem with your code and hopefully saying the problem out loud helps you think of a solution to your problem. Sounds crazy right? Well hopefully by the end of this article I’ll be able to convince you that it isn’t as insane as it sounds at first.

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Why You Should Talk it Out While Coding

When you’re writing code there are a lot of different variables, algorithms, functions, and data structures that you’re constantly dealing with. Systems comprised of millions of lines of code are commonplace. The number of moving parts that are associated with any system can be too much for a single person to constantly think about and remember, but by talking out the high-level parts of your code you can figure out a lot just by saying it out loud. It would always be better to talk out a problem with a team member that knows something about the codebase so in the event you are talking something out that they know a lot about they can help, but in the event that you’re alone or working on a personal project that only you know about, talking to yourself is the next best thing.

Why Talking to a Coding Duck is Just the Right Amount of Crazy

Have you ever seen the movie Castaway? Remember all those scenes where Tom Hanks is talking to the volleyball named Wilson? Coding ducks do the same thing. And if you’re ever thinking that you’ll never be desperate enough to need a coding duck when writing code, I implore you to look at code that someone else has written. That’s where it really matters. Everyone has their own way of writing code, almost like a fingerprint. I can identify many of my friends and coworkers just by the way they write code. And because everyone has their own way of doing things, each time you look at a program that you didn’t write you’re going to need to talk to someone about it. Even if that person is yourself or a tiny yellow duck on your desk.

Final Thoughts on Why You Should Get a Coding Duck

A coding duck has been the single most useful tool for debugging in my programming career. If you regularly code and find yourself stressing over problems that you run into, I highly recommend getting one. I’ve personally used a small teddy bear and an Elvis Pez dispenser for debugging. It sounds crazy, but don’t knock it until you try it! Talking out your thought process can be a really good way of solving things.


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