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!

GitHub Analysis reveals the Changing Face of Programming Language Usage

One obvious constant in the technology industry is its rapid pace of change, and the practice of programming offers no exception to this rule. What was once a popular language at the turn of the century might hardly get used for applications today. On the other hard, new programming languages seem to appear on a monthly basis.

Data from the source code repository, GitHub, offers a window on this changing face of software development. Let’s look more closely at their analysis to check the latest trends in programming language usage. Perhaps these insights might be of use in your own team’s development efforts?

393 Different Programming Languages at GitHub – in One Year!

GitHub boasts 4.5 million users who maintain around 10 TB of source code at the repository. Incredibly, those development projects are written in 393 different programming languages. Even more impressive is that data only represents one year of GitHub usage statistics!

Those numbers have only increased since the original July publication of an article by Waren Long at the source{d} blog used as a reference for this post. Another interesting point is their analysis doesn’t even include JavaScript, one of the most widely used languages, because of GitHub users’ propensity to refer to popular libraries, like Node.js or React.js, as a project’s language instead of JavaScript.

Long’s methodology for determining programming language is quite detailed, so refer to the link in the previous paragraph for additional insights, if interested. 

The Current Most Popular Programming Languages on GitHub

There are few surprises listed among the most popular languages currently in use at GitHub. Python and Java rank at the top of the list, with a popularity percentage of 16 and 15.3 respectively. That doesn’t necessarily mean both languages have more lines of source code stored in the repository. That honor lies with PHP, even though it only ranks at #5 on the popularity scale.

Other languages in the top 10 include the venerable, like C, C++, and C#, along with relative upstarts like Ruby, Objective-C, and Go. Apple’s newer programming language for iOS applications, Swift, rounds out the top 10. A related analysis adding in Google search queries to the GitHub data notes that Go is currently the “hottest” programming language.

Moving from One Language to Another

The original source{d} blog article also looked what languages programmers are transitioning into over time. This is useful information for both individual developers as well as software development shops. For example, many Visual Basic developers eventually transition into C#, which isn’t surprising for programmers working primarily on the Microsoft technology stack.

PHP developers, on the other hand, tend to move into Java, Python, or even C#. Python’s current popularity is confirmed by the fact that 24 percent of programmers working in the five other most popular languages — Java, C, C++, PHP, and Ruby – eventually work with Python. The “walled garden” nature of Apple platforms is revealed by the high percentage of programmers switching between Swift and Objective-C for project work.

Ultimately, anyone working as a programmer or a manager of software development needs to dive into the source{d} analysis of GitHub’s data. It’s truly fascinating.

Keep coming back to the Betica Blog for additional insights from the software development world. Thanks for reading!