Why Even Experienced Developers Love Google -- And That's OK!
19 Sep 2016
6 minute read
Here’s the secret. Similarities between languages are what make it possible to pick a new one up in just weeks and months, but every language has their little quirks. So does how they interact with others. Basically, there’s a difference between knowing if it’s possible, and how to do it, and the exact syntax. This means that you may find that once you’ve worked out the logic of your solution, you might be stumped on how to do it with code. The solution? Often it’s to look it up on Google. But, why?
- It’s pretty impossible to remember all the syntax. You can’t guess it either. That would be a pretty wasteful way to spend your time.
- If you stuff up command line instruction, it could end pretty badly for your laptop or computer, or the project you’re working on. There are really niche operations that you might perform only a few times a year, You probably won’t remember how to do them, or never have performed them before. Better not to risk it!
- There are some pretty vague and obscure error messages out there! You could probably sort it out yourself, but deadlines are calling.
- There might not be good documentation and the feature you’re working is due to be finished pretty soon. What are you going to do?
Does Googling all the time make you a bad developer?
Well, it depends on what you’re Googling for. Are you looking for the entire solution or any of the above? If you’re looking for the entire solution to your problem, without first thinking of the logic you could solve it with, for any reasonable amount of time? Probably. That’s the wrong type of lazy. You need patience as a developer. When you’re Googling, you’re often asking three different questions. First, can I do this? Then, you go off and have a try. Next, how do I do this? Lastly, why doesn't this work?
A great way to learn how a coding language works is to try stuff out and see what happens. If you know the fundamentals of coding and the programming paradigm your language is, you will be able to know what’s possible. This is how it is entirely plausible that you could have worked out all the logic but still need to google syntax. It’s hard to remember all the minor details and nuances, especially later in your career when you’re working with lots of languages, libraries, and frameworks at the same time. So, why is proficient Googling considered a valuable skill? Well, if you search for something and don't find any good results, there are two possibilities: a) You’re not asking the right question, or b) You’re trying to solve the wrong problem.
The most important part of being a professional coder is decision making on topics like problem identification, application of algorithms, design patterns, etc. Yes, even when you're a junior developer. You could find four different ways to do things. But, it’s your responsibility to determine which of these solutions is best for your problem, or create a fifth one...
"[I do not] carry such information in my mind since it is readily available in books. ...The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think." - Albert Einstein
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