Print statements are sort of the worst of both worlds, combining the negative aspects of an online debugger with diagnostic instrumentation. You have to modify the program but you don’t get more, useful code from it.
An online debugger allows you to inspect the state of a running program; But the nice thing about a real debugger is that you don’t have to modify the source; neither before nor after the debugging session; You just load the program into the debugger, tell the debugger where you want to look, and you’re all set.
Instrumenting the application might take some work up front, modifying the source code in some way, but the resulting diagnostic output can have enormous amounts of detail, and can be turned on or off to a very specific degree. The python logging module can show not just the message logged, but also the file and function that called it, a traceback if there was one, the actual time that the message was emitted, and so on. More than that; diagnostic instrumentation need never be removed; It’s just as valid and useful when the program is finished and in production as it was the day it was added; but it can have it’s output stuck in a log file where it’s not likely to annoy anyone, or the log level can be turned down to keep all but the most urgent messages out.
anticipating the need or use for a debugger is really no harder than using ipython while you’re testing, and becoming familiar with the commands it uses to control the built in pdb debugger.
When you find yourself thinking that a print statement might be easier than using pdb (as it often is), You’ll find that using a logger pulls your program in a much easier to work on state than if you use and later remove print statements.
I have my editor configured to highlight print statements as syntax errors, and logging statements as comments, since that’s about how I regard them.