Finding good source code with Google code search

Programming is a fun task, but is not without its number of problems. Among them, the most difficult issue is finding appropriate information. If you are lucky enough, you can find documentation on the Internet for all the APIs you want to use. However, reading API documentation is like trying to feel the taste of a dish by just reading the recipe. To have a real idea of how to use a programming APIs there is nothing like seeing the real thing, that is, the source code.

That is when things get difficult. It is really hard to come up with good examples of API usage without going to low level details of an application. This is most of the time a frustrating experience for programmers just starting on a specific platform.

Codesearch LogoThings can different, however, in an Internet-enabled world. With so much free and high quality open source code available in the Internet, it must be possible to find an example of usage for almost any major programming technology. You just need to search it. There is when Google provides the key. The Google code search allows one to find all source code by keyword, programming language, and license type, among other major categories.
Using Google code search has made my programming life much better during the last few months. In the past, if I wanted to find an example of usage for some programming functionality, I had to look at company web sites, forums, and other special web sites that provided this kind of information. With Google code search, I can just forget about this and run a search for the specific function or class that I want to use over all free software code out there.

In fact, Google code search is not restricted only to open source. It will catch all source code that is hiding on the net, as long as it can classify it as a programming language file, be it C++, Java, Perl, or any other language. Critics think that this is also a dangerous feature, since you can find code that you are not allowed to use. And by using indiscriminate copy-and-paste, you can turn you own application into illegal code, so take care.

In my own experience, Google code search is a revolution in the way of finding programming examples, and therefore improving my coding abilities. Have you readers used this tool before? What do you think of it?

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