How to Find Answers as a Software DeveloperSaraschandraa M
The internet is a huge pile of information and searching for what you really need is an art.
As a developer, it’s obvious to be overwhelmed with excess information but no matter what your programming question is, you can always find an answer.
Sometimes, a simple Google search is enough but sometimes you have to scroll through tons of blog posts and forums to find out how to resolve a simple bug in your code. And, this does take a lot of your valuable time.
Even senior developers can’t do everything without getting stuck somewhere and without searching for the answers online. But it’s very important how you search — searching effectively can give you more suitable answers and quickly too.
Here’s a quick guide that will help you quickly find answers to your programming questions. Let’s go through it…
Finding answers as a programmer
This is how you find answers to your most unexpected coding questions:
1. Search Google like a pro
You must have heard the quote “if you want the right answers, ask the right questions”.
Yes, it’s true while searching for topics on Google or any other search engine (however, we’ll focus on Google here). You need to frame your search query in a way that the search engines understand what you exactly need in a better way.
And, if you’re stuck anywhere while programming, your first step should be to search on Google. If your query is very common then most probably, you will find the answer but if you couldn’t, take the help of Google search operators.
Google search operators offer special ways to perform complex searches. It filters out unnecessary information and returns a bit more specific search results. Some of the most popular Google search operators that you can use as a software developer are:
Sometimes, Google thinks you mistyped and shows results entirely for a different thing. Putting your search terms in quotes (“…”) helps you perform an exact-match search on Google.
For example, searching for
"how to raise ValueError" will show the results only that exactly match the query.
OR helps you search either of the queries and
AND shows the results that all the queries.
php AND mysql projectswould show you the results containing projects that use both PHP and MySQL
You can also combine
AND in a single search query to perform even more complex search results.
(facebook AND metaverse) OR (nvidia AND multiverse)would show you the results that contain the words “facebook” and “metaverse” or “nvidia” and “multiverse”
site: helps you perform a search inside a specific website. It limits the search to that specific site.
site:stackoverflow.com data sciencewill only show you the results from Stack Overflow that contain the words data science (learn data science)
site:twitter.com web3 OR nftshows tweets about Web3 and NFT
filetype is another interesting Google search operator that shows search results containing a certain file type.
data science with python filetype:pdfwill only show you the results that contain a public PDF file that you can download
- If you have to find a presentation file, you can search
<your topic> filetype:pptand the file will appear immediately
Interesting, right? Here are some more examples:
- If you’re trying to follow people who talk about data science on Twitter and LinkedIn, then the below query should help you:
"data science" AND (site:twitter.com OR site:linkedin.com)
- If you’re trying to find out research paper PDFs on artificial intelligence, the below query will help you:
"artificial intelligence" AND "research paper" AND filetype:pdf
These are the main ones that you will mostly use, but if you want, you can also view the other ones.
2. Search on the forums
Most probably, you will find the answer from Google but if you couldn’t, you should try exploring the forums. Most of the time, forum discussions are shown in Google but sometimes not.
In that case, you can either use the special
site: search operators to find answers from specific forums or try searching directly in the forum search box. For example, StackOverflow has a huge search box in the header section that you can see in the screenshot below.
And not only StackOverflow but there are also tons of good forums that you can take the help of if stuck. You can also follow this mini tutorial by StackOverflow on how to search in the forum.
However, you can also find some good alternatives to StackOverflow.
3. Read the documentation
Sometimes, the answer to a problem is so obvious that no one wrote about it earlier and you’ll spend hours searching for it online. However, a quick skim through the documentation can get it working quickly.
Trying to find answers on Stack Overflow is a great way to get started, but it’s not a substitute for good documentation. Reading the documentation is also helps you think like a programmer.
4. Lastly, ask
If you couldn’t find the answer through all the above-mentioned methods, it’s time for you to ask a question in the forums and platforms like StackOverflow and Reddit.
While asking, make sure to provide all the necessary details like:
- the exact error message that you’re getting
- what version of the program you’re using
- what operating system you’re working on, etc.
Including these details help other community members understand the problem and they would be able to provide more suitable solutions.
As a software developer, you have a wide range of tools and resources available to find the answers. From Google to StackOverflow, to Reddit, or other specialized forums and online communities, there’s something out there for everyone, for every programming language.
If you have a related query, feel free to let us know in the comments below.
Also, kindly share the information with your aspiring developer friends who you think might be interested in reading it.