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Getting what you need by doing a decent search of the internet

#1 tlhIn`toq   User is offline

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Posted 11 July 2011 - 08:58 AM


We see a LOT of questions that could have been easily answered by doing a search. And faster too. Asking a question means having to explain yourself, copy/paste in your code, and then WAITING for someone to respond. But a search in nearly instantaneous these days.

Recently someone said this in one of the programming language help areas and it stunned me.

someone said:

I don't know how I can make this any clearer; searches though online information DO NOT help when you don't know what you're looking for.

And I thought to myself:

tlhin`toq said:

Yes. They do. That's when a search is the MOST helpful: When you don't know exactly what you need.

So today I am sharing my own little technique for searching.

Let's say you wanted to write a method that let you draw in a set a crosshairs over a picturebox that was being fed from a webcam. But you've never done custom drawing before, so you don't have any idea what namespace to look in. Where in the printed bookS of .NET do you start your search? System.Line... nope... System.Drawing... System.PictureBox... System.Forms.Controls.PictureBox... Nope, there is such a namespace and control, but it doesn't have anything about how to draw on top of itself.....

But if you search for "MSDN {what you want to do}" or "C# {what you want to do}"

Attached Image

you will get very targeted responses.

Large image: Please click to see. I didn't want to scroll up everyone's screens every time.


As you can see the first two responses are bulls eyes for what you needed. With several more good examples down the page. And it only took a few seconds, as opposed to several false starts associated with looking through a set of printed encyclopedias.

When I first started coding C++ I raged against the way things were done. I spent more time screaming "Why the *f* is it done this way? That's crazy? What were they thinking?" and so on. One day it just hit me that there was no point yelling at the wind. Raging against something I cannot change. It didn't matter *why* because I was not going to change it. This was simply the way millions of others do it. Accepting it let me spend more time working and less time trying to lower my blood pressure.

Its the same way here. You can spend hundreds of dollars on books. We all have. Coding cookbooks are my favorite. But in the end they require a lot of space to look pretty on the shelf and because I am already on the computer I can do a search in 1/1000th of the time it would take to look up out-of-date information in a book printed last year.

If you already have an iPad / Galaxy tablet / netbook / Nook or laptop that you can set next to your development PC, consider *that* your textbook. You can look something up on the laptop/tablet and refer to it as you type. Use that screen as your book.

This post has been edited by tlhIn`toq: 11 July 2011 - 09:01 AM

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Replies To: Getting what you need by doing a decent search of the internet

#2 pablo9891   User is offline

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 02:55 PM

I must say that the Internet has become a really important tool in the programming field, every time i have an error, it doesn't matter if it is a syntax error or a logical one i ussually go to the internet to see if there's an example of how to correct it or how to do it better. When i'm doing a search on the internet of some syntax error i'm having and i don't know what it is i think for myself: "there should be someone that had to deal with this error before". That's how the internet help's us in a way

That's why i believe that another way of making a web search if you are having some error is to put the error code on google, in that way you will know exactly which is the problem you're having and then you'll be able to go on.
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