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It seems to me that googling has become an integral part of software development. I spend about as much time googling for an answer and copying code from blogs and examples, as writing new code myself. Are there any best practices for google?

Examples off the top of my head:

  • use trusted sites for answers, i.e stackoverflow, API project page
  • read the comments for blogs listing code snippets
  • understand and test code copied from blogs
  • when in doubt, google for a solution first before coming up with a new one


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closed as off topic by Steve Evers, JeffO, Anna Lear Nov 8 '11 at 20:01

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Using a search engine and evaluating the information it comes up with aren't programmer-specific issues. –  Anna Lear Nov 8 '11 at 20:01

3 Answers 3

I think this is looking at it slightly myopically.

What is integral to effective and efficient software development (and almost every other profession) is research.

Google just happens to be the current tool of choice for getting access to information we now most commonly use for this research.

Best practices for researching include:

  • Verify by finding multiple sources that concur
  • Verify by using a multitude of different media. In our case, 'media types' could include:
    • Blogs
    • Code samples/tutorials
    • Q&A sites
    • Reference sites (eg, MSDN)
    • Etc
  • Uses sources that are referenced by many other sources
  • Use critical thinking when evaluating information
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The four examples you list above are good ones, especially for trusted blogs. Other potential uses for Google might include:

  • Searching in Google Code, to hunt for code examples
  • Searching for tutorials and documentation
  • Finding new blogs that discuss interesting coding topics
  • Looking for programming books (and book reviews)
  • Seeing coding tutorials on video (YouTube, etc.)
  • Finding out about interesting courses (one example being the Stanford AI course)
  • Keeping up with industry news and trends
  • Looking up conventions and user groups
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Of course it is

It's no different to opening a big book and finding out information there.

I usually look at php.net or someone's blog tutorial on a certain php feature/method of doing things

Plus API documentation probably doesn't come in hard-copies (Unless you print it out).

What interests me would be how would software/documentation be shared if Google/Search Engines or the internet didn't exist.

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Software was exchanged by tape and uucp before the Internet existed. It was also exchange by Bulletin Board systems. –  BillThor Nov 2 '11 at 0:30
That was a bit before my time ;-) But imagine nowadays trying to share the entire php.net docs via BBS or mailed hardcopies... –  MattyD Nov 2 '11 at 0:45
@MattyD If the internet didn't exist, a printout for php.net docs would be an empty page. Web language and all... –  Yannis Rizos Nov 2 '11 at 0:54
@YannisRizos Touche my friend –  MattyD Nov 2 '11 at 0:55
@MattyD I upvoted to counter the downvote, it wasn't a very eloquent answer but the point you make is important. Research as described by Dan McGrath would be significantly more time consuming, harder to acheive, and far more expensive without search engines and online knowledgebases. Most of our research would come from code readily available to us and expensive reference manuals and books. –  maple_shaft Nov 2 '11 at 11:34

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