A Source Code Search Engine makes Programming more Efficient


No matter your experience level as a software engineer, being able to quickly find code examples helps make your job a bit easier. Most developers know how to write a complex Google search query, as well as being able to navigate GitHub. Nonetheless, having a dedicated source code search engine offers the potential to become more efficient at writing software.

A nascent software developer feels the same way, and is working on a search engine dedicated to finding those valuable code snippets that inspire a solution to a pressing problem. This approach also offers the potential to make learning new languages an easier process. Let’s take a closer look at his efforts.

Learning New Programming and discovering New Functionality

After being exposed to software engineering as part of his college education, Canadian developer, Anthony Nguyen felt there had to be a better way to find relevant code examples. Sure, a Google search helps somewhat, but what about a dedicated search engine specifically for source code? Nguyen began work on SyntaxDB, a tool he hopes to someday be an essential part of any developer’s toolbox.

Michael Byrne first reported on Nguyen’s efforts earlier this year at Motherboard on Vice.com. If Nguyen makes SyntaxDB a success, it becomes another key to making the modern software development team work more efficiently. Interested developers are able to use this emerging resource today.

Byrne notes the tool’s utility for seeing how a common code pattern or piece of functionality gets written in an unfamiliar language. Considering the rapid rate of change in the software development world, new languages and functional libraries get introduced regularly. Having SyntaxDB at the ready helps to speed up the learning process for any programmer.

The Developer Community helping SyntaxDB build its Content

One current weakness noted by Byrne involves SyntaxDB’s relative lack of reference documentation. At the time of his article, it appeared Nguyen himself produced a lot of the internal content returned in the search results.

A robust community of developers willing to help add material to the SyntaxDB database has come to the rescue; potentially increasing the amount of content referenced by the search engine. It currently provides references to many popular languages, including Java, C, C++, C#, Ruby, Go, Swift, Python, and JavaScript.

Adding extensions to allow SyntaxDB to work within the most popular IDE’s is another way Nguyen needs support. He built one for Visual Studio Code and other contributor wrote one for Atom. Nguyen hopes to eventually integrate SyntaxDB into every major IDE and source code editor – a worthy goal, indeed.

Nguyen also wants input from other developers on how to refine the search engine’s interface. He also encourages developers to submit any corrections to the tool’s current source code examples. His current major project with SyntaxDB involves building an interface to easily allow content contributions from other software engineers.

With a goal of becoming the fastest programming reference in the world, Anthony Nguyen gives hope to developers struggling to learn a new programming language or simply how to do something new. Take some time to use SyntaxDB and offer feedback and even add some content of your own.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for further insights on the growing software development world. As always – thanks for reading!