Do Experienced Programmers Use Google Frequently?

Software developers, especially those who are new to the field, often ask this question or at least wonder whether they are good developers or just good at googling up solutions.

“Do experienced programmers use Google frequently?”

The resounding answer is YES, experienced (and good) programmers use Google… a lot. In fact, one might argue they use it more than the beginners. Using Google doesn’t make them bad programmers or imply that they cannot code without Google. In fact, truth is quite the opposite: Google is an essential part of their software development toolkit and they know when and how to use it.

A big reason to use Google is that it is hard to remember all those minor details and nuances especially when you are programming in multiple languages and using dozens of frameworks. As Einstein said:

“Never memorize something that you can look up.” - Albert Einstein

Aside from that, good programmers also know that they cannot be the first one to have encountered a problem. They use Google to research possible solutions, carefully evaluating the results and consciously separating the wheat from the chaff; they don’t blindly follow or copy-paste any solution they come across. Expert programmers are also paranoid, living in self-doubt and questioning their competence. Whenever their spidey senses start tingling, they know they may be going the wrong hole; they rely on Google on validate their logic.

Going by the definition, I would be considered an experienced programmer. Recently, I had to write web server using Netty in Java to handle persistent sockets from mobile games. I had never used Netty before. Here are my Google searches I did:

1. netty tutorial 2. netty maven dependency 3. netty bytebuf to string 4. netty bytebuf release 5. netty 4 changes 6. setOption("child.bufferFactory") netty 4 7. ByteBuf netty 8. opensource projects using netty framework 9. netty 4 examples 10. netty 4 adding json encoder 11. netty channel pipeline 12. netty 4 messagetomessage encoder 13. netty serverbootstrap childhandler 14. ByteBuf netty 15. lengthfieldbasedframedecoder netty 4 16. netty 4 client examples 17. netty 4 bytebuf to bytebuffer 18. netty 4 endianness 19. netty channelhandlercontext 20. netty channelhandlercontext thread safe 21. netty user authentication 22. netty heartbeat handling 23. load test netty with 10k concurrent sockets

I wrote 255 lines of code that included a working server and a client. I queried google 23 times mostly landing on StackOverflow, Netty 4 website, GitHub, and JavaDocs. If you do the math, that averages out to 1 query every 10 lines of code! I had no idea. Let me know in the comments what your average is.

So sit back, relax and remember that Google is software developer’s best friend.

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