Google: A developers best friend?

Google can be a developers best friend, but it can also be your worst enemy. It is essential for a developer to be able to use google as a tool, not just a copy and paste service. I am writing this as, through getting stuck time and time again, I have learnt that using google well will get you out of a jam and save you endless amounts of time.


How to Google

Google is an excellent service, terrific even, but it is also very important to know how to search well. We all have that family member that is just terrible at searching the internet, and can spend hours trying to find the phone number for the local Chinese takeaway.

A bad Search

To either side of this paragraph are two images, one showing a good search (In my opinion) and another showing a quite heavily worded one. As you can see from the image, which both searches for a drop down list, return different results. The more efficient is the brief search, not only does it contain the information which is actually being searched for, but it also keeps the search short. Which allows a developer to quickly knock up a search for what they need and move on, and being able to use your time efficiently is a massive thing for a developer.

A better search

Within google there are built in operators. The most common, being the quotation marks, an example of this would be when searching for ford mustang, you would imagine some of the results may be horses as well as cars. However if you add quotation marks into this search then that criteria will solely return results with both ford and mustang in that order. Additionally you can use the hyphen “-” to remove results with a particular word in them, so you could search “Mustang -horses” should return only results without the word horses in them.

To the left you will see a list of the different tools you can use to help limit your search results. For example if you are specifically looking for a stack overflow answer you can search “drop down list site:stackoverflow.com” which will exclusively search stack overflow for your results.

As discussed, knowing how to google will not only save time but also will make you be able to find much more accurate results. This may be a lesson that many developers don’t want to read or don’t agree with, but I personally believe that google is a tool that we all should use.

“You’ve got your Brain, Google, and most importantly, you’ve got Youtube. Use’em!” 
Olawale Daniel

The above quote summarises my thoughts perfectly, if you are using google, ensure you’re using your brain as well. Even to ensure that what you are researching is correct and the search criteria is laid out perfectly


When not to Google?

If you don’t understand the content, don’t google it. Read a book, an article or even book yourself onto a course. Not understanding what you are putting into your work, be it coding or be it something far different, means that you are compromising yourself and your work. It also means that any documentation you provide will be poor at best. There are always times when you can use google and you should, when you understand a topic but you just need a refresher. I don’t think anyone would be able to list off every single function built into javascript for instance so it makes plenty of sense that you should be able to google sufficiently to remind yourself and ensure that you are using a function correctly.

“Behind every Plagiarism there is Google” 
Vikash Shrivastava

I believe that quote speaks very wisely, most people when plagiarism is mentioned think straight to University. However using google to substitute your work, rather than add to your work is still plagiarism in the obvious form.


Summary

In summary, I believe that google can be and is a fantastic tool when used correctly. As silly as it may seem googling is a skill, one that all developers should be able to use when needed to add to their work, not substitute, which is what I hope any readers will take from this article and make their work even slightly more efficient. Heck, even feel free to show your family members so that they can find that Takeaway menu faster (Hint: “Chinese takeaway leeds”)