Is assert evil?


Question

The Go language creators write:

Go doesn't provide assertions. They are undeniably convenient, but our experience has been that programmers use them as a crutch to avoid thinking about proper error handling and reporting. Proper error handling means that servers continue operation after non-fatal errors instead of crashing. Proper error reporting means that errors are direct and to the point, saving the programmer from interpreting a large crash trace. Precise errors are particularly important when the programmer seeing the errors is not familiar with the code.

What is your opinion about this?

1
195
11/30/2010 11:26:29 AM

Accepted Answer

No, there's nothing wrong with assert as long as you use it as intended.

That is, it's supposed to be for catching cases that "can't happen", during debugging, as opposed to normal error handling.

  • Assert: A failure in the program's logic itself.
  • Error Handling: An erroneous input or system state not due to a bug in the program.
318
12/6/2009 4:20:46 AM

No, neither goto nor assert are evil. But both can be misused.

Assert is for sanity checks. Things that should kill the program if they are not correct. Not for validation or as a replacement for error handling.


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