Google programming

Not the programming of google, but programming with google.

I’m doing some C# at the moment (plain .net not VSTO/VSTA), and its fair to say I’m a little rusty. No problem thanks to t’internet, just google “C# jet” and everything I need is there. (‘other search providers may offer similar services’)

I used to use mainly help, but I am finding more and more, Google often provides more useful content. Do you find that? You need to know what to search for of course, and what not to search for.

Do you have another favourite resource?



12 Responses to “Google programming”

  1. Stephane Rodriguez Says:

    For programming topics, I usually use Google groups (i.e. a web version of old-fashioned news:// newsgroups) where the signal to noise is amazingly high. I can’t remember not finding answers to my questions.

  2. Jon Peltier Says:

    I tell people my two favorite Excel programming tools are the Macro Recorder and Google. I start with regular Google before I go to Google Groups, because they’ve messed up the Groups a bit in recent modifications. Online help is no longer a primary resource, although it’s often enough to jog my memory.

  3. Marcus Says:

    Hi Simon,

    While I’ve got a shelf stuffed with books, I’ve got two resources I use the majority of the time.

    The first is prior projects. When I’m working on something I try (being the operative word) to recall if I’ve done something similar in a previous project and dig up the code from that. I also keep a code library of functions and classes which I can copy and paste (I take my laptop everywhere).

    The second is Google. Often this is for getting details on a bug or looking up some sample code either because ‘Help’ hasn’t been useful (surprise, surprise) or I’m not happy with what I’ve produced and would like to see how others have approached a similar problem.

    Caveat. I’d warn learners not to substitute Google for ‘knowing your stuff’. Without a solid understanding of what you’re doing – you wont know whether you’ve just found some quality code or rubbish.

    Cheers – Marcus

  4. Ken Puls Says:

    It totally depends on the task for me.

    When it’s just syntax that I need, I’ll usually try the macro recorder first, Google second.

    If I know EXACTLY what I’m after, I’ll frustrate myself by trying to use the online help, then 30 seconds later jump to Google.

    If it’s something complex that I know I’ve worked on in a project before, I’ll dig up the project and look there. (Or head to the forum where I remember posting it.)

    Lastly, I also use my own site/blog. The reason they’re there is half to share, but also to be a reference library for me, on occassion.

    So how’s that? Different answer for every day of the week. :)

    I totally agree with Marcus’s caveat though. To make best use of Google, you need to start with some skill.

  5. Harlan Grove Says:

    I do different things than most of the rest of you, more heavily numerical. Few things beat the online Numerical Recipes books. There’s also StatLib and CPAN, but I’m odd and like translating FORTRAN or Perl into VBA.

  6. MikeC Says:

    I’ve never really used Google for this… maybe I should try?

    My main reference material for VBA is the MS Office Discussion Groups/Excel/Programming community. 99% of the time the thing I’m looking for has been answered previously, and I don’t have to put up with Google returning links to things that have nothing to do with what I’m looking for, as it does every other time I use it…. (I tried Google once for something in VBA, and after wading through 15 or so irrelevant “hits” I gave up and asked someone…). I have a bookmarked list of websites/blogs like this one, DDOE, Chip’s site, RDB’s place etc which have helped me out of a few tight spots too.

    Aside from that, like Marcus, I have a code “library” of .txt files for things that:
    a. took me a while to figure out
    b. are heavy on weird/long syntax, and it’s easier to copy & paste than type (e.g. setting borders. I hate setting borders manually.)
    c. I saw somewhere, and thought would be worth snagging for future reference in case it came in useful. Most of these things I have never used, but still have in case I need. Some things, like setting inputboxes to replace text typed in with *s I use constantly.

    Now I just gotta remember to take it all with me when I leave! =;-)

  7. Simon Says:

    Some good points, the Excel macro recorder especially, I’m sure thats enabled a few career changes. This is the feature I miss when I work in other products (even though its far from perfect).
    The big thing I find is the better you know something the easier it is to filter out the poor info, whereever you are looking.
    I still keep a copy of Excel XP because that was the last version that had a help file I could use. 2003 seems to go out of its way to help as little as possible. Anyone else find that?

  8. Ross Says:

    Unless it’s like object model stuff, i Google all the time, then help in VB was rubbish, the help and examples in are shocking, that help system is woeful.

    The good thing with goggle (and groups) is that you often get a fuller picture of what the real ditty is.

  9. Ken Puls Says:

    “2003 seems to go out of its way to help as little as possible. Anyone else find that?”

    Yes. Even though I try to use them in 2003, I still referred to them as the “help” files (with quotes.) 2007 does have better help files (IMO), but you sometimes have to turn the online help off to get something applicable. It’s kind of weird that way.

    Example, with the online help turned on, try searching for GetSetting in the Excel help. Results are:

    -GetSetting Function
    Help > Visio > Visio 2007 Automation Reference > Visual Basic for Applications Language Reference > Visual Basic Language Reference > Functions
    -Registry Keyword Summary
    Help > Visio > Visio 2007 Automation Reference > Visual Basic for Applications Language Reference > Visual Basic Language Reference > Keyword Summaries

    Why Visio? I don’t even have it installed? Turn off the online help and just go local, and you get:

    GetSetting Function
    Help > Visual Basic for Applications Language Reference > Visual Basic
    Language Reference > Functions

    Registry Keyword Summary
    Help > Visual Basic for Applications Language Reference > Visual Basic
    Language Reference > Keyword Summaries

    Go figure. One would think that you should get more and better results with online help on, wouldn’t you?

  10. Harlan Grove Says:

    The thing that drives me nuts about the help systems from Excel 2000 on is the help index. Enter a search term and a list of topics appears below it, but that list isn’t in sorted order.

  11. Will Riley Says:

    Yep, I use Google all the time…

    I’m no .Net programmer but know enough VBA to know what should be possible….today I had to use an SSIS scripting task to extract a date in string format from char 2 to char 9 on the fourth line of some flat files…

    I posted a question on MSDN but had got enough code examples via google to fashion a workable solution before anyone replied :)

    The whole issue took an hour… without using google/t’internet I am sure it would have taken me the best part of the afternoon…

  12. Sam Says:

    You are right about the indexing of the help system from 2000 on…. I felt 97 had the best help menu ever…


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