Increase Productivity With Search Driven Development

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Search Magnifying
Glass With all the advances in software development in the past few years, I would have to point to Google and Google Groups as the two tools that provide the biggest productivity enhancements for me as a software developer. This fact is probably nothing new to any of you.

Search as a development tool is a phenomena some are starting to refer to asSearch Driven Development(Not to be confused with Test Driven Development).

Let’s face it, at the rate that new technology is being churned out these days, and given the huge size of many of these frameworks we use, it is impossible to learn everything up front. At some point, we have to stop RTFM’ing, put the documentation down, and start coding. And when we run into trouble, we thank our lucky stars that Google is there to save the day.

Wouldn’t it be great to have some of that search power integrated in your IDE? It turns out that have done just that. They provide two free IDE plugins available, one for Eclipse and one for Visual Studio.NET, on their website in the downloads section.

When you go to the site, there’s a little animation demonstrating the plugin. Click the View Again button if you missed it.

Here’s a screenshot I took of SmartSearch^TM^ in action. After typing out the method name, a moment later, the result shows up.

Screenshot of Koders SmartSearch<sup>TM</sup> in

The Smart Search feature is a bit Clippy like at times and sometimes exhibits a bit of lag, making it less useful than it could be. You may just want to turn it off and choose to use the plugin search box directly.

Though there is room for improvement, I think SmartSearch^TM^ is really a really interesting application of context based search and could be quite useful as a double check while writing code. Oh hey, there are already 100 implementations of this method. Let’s see how mine stacks up. Avert my eyes from the GPL licensed code!


Under the hood, these plugins make use of the search engine. This engine directly indexes source control repositories and allows users to quickly search and browse through Open Source code. It’s includes a nice interface and provides all the information necessary (such as the license) so you can make an informed decision on whether to use it or not. You can also choose to filter by language and license.

Given my interest in Open Source software, I had heard of but didn’t know about their plugins till today, when I had lunch with Darren Rush, the CEO of Little did I know until Darren contacted me via my blog, is based in Los Angeles! Darren turned me on to the term Search Driven Development.

Finally! A Los Angeles based company doing something really interesting in the Open Source space that isn’t part of “The Industry”. Very Cool!

As an aside, during our conversation, we wondered why L.A. doesn’t have anywhere close to the tech industry that the Bay Area does. We seem to have all the elements here, but not the community. I seem to think it’s because this area is dominated by the film industry. He pointed out that geography due to the horrible traffic creates pockets of communities. Probably a bit of both.

But I digress.

In any case, lest you think I’m shilling (Yeah, he bought lunch, but I can’t be bought that cheaply!), the other player in this field that I’ve heard about (apart from the obvious 800lb gorilla) is While their site has a nice color scheme and look and feel, I found Koders easier to use because of its similarity in layout to Google (did I mention Koders is L.A. based?).

I think sticking to the Google Search look (searchbox in the middle) is a smart move for any search site. As soon as I see such a site, I know what to do and where to type. Krugle has a beta plugin to Eclipse, but doesn’t seem to have anything for Visual Studio.NET yet.

Found a typo or error? Suggest an edit! If accepted, your contribution is listed automatically here.



18 responses

  1. Avatar for Kevin Dente
    Kevin Dente March 16th, 2007

    >we wondered why L.A. doesn’t have
    >anywhere close to the tech industry
    >that the Bay Area does
    Because the Bay Area totally rocks and LA is totally lame, of course. :P
    I say forget FizzBuzz, every job interview should have a search effectiveness test. Rather than "how do you code a quicksort", it could be "how long does it take you to Google a good quicksort algorithm". And if you want to make it tricky, add something like "in Eiffel".

  2. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked March 16th, 2007

    At least people believe in showering over here. ;P
    I like that as a interview question!

  3. Avatar for Aaron
    Aaron March 16th, 2007

    Google search or a Safari search?
    I guess the litmus test would be does your candidate goes to or first. Rather then

  4. Avatar for Kevin Dente
    Kevin Dente March 16th, 2007

    Clearly you've been hanging out with Atwood over in Berkeley too much. You need to come kick it in O-town instead. ;)

  5. Avatar for March 16th, 2007

    You've been kicked (a good thing) - Trackback from

  6. Avatar for Community Blogs
    Community Blogs March 16th, 2007

    It’s comments like this that remind me why I enjoy blogging. Holy ***! I found this post whilst searching

  7. Avatar for ed
    ed March 16th, 2007

    That is pretty sweet. I am always a bit weary about adding plugins into Visual Studio because they tend to annoy me after a period of time - but this looks like a good candidate for anyones toolbox.

  8. Avatar for John D. Mitchell
    John D. Mitchell March 17th, 2007

    Thanks for mentioning Krugle! We're doing a lot of cool enterprise focused stuff that's coming RSN. :-)
    I'm obviously a bit biased but you might want to know where the term SDD comes from. Ken also did a podcast on SDD.
    Re: Safari book search. Aaron, it's done for you automatically with Krugle (in the related results section). Heheheh.
    Re: LA vs. Bay Area. I think "all of the above" contributes to the problem. Also, a lot of developers get sucked into big companies (e.g., aerospace) and never get out whereas in the Bay Area the flow of developers around leads to a lot of cross-pollination of people networks. In terms of hiring, the people networks are the biggest factor since that's the dominant way to get the best people.
    Re: Berkeley vs. The Big O. Well, at least they are on the right side of the bay. And Zachary's on College Ave. is the perfection of yummy, harmonious goodness.

  9. Avatar for engtech
    engtech March 18th, 2007

    Don't forget Google Code Search

  10. Avatar for lb
    lb March 18th, 2007

    i want 'deep search' built into intellisense -- so that if i type "system.xml" (for example) i can then search in a little box and bring up all highlight/filter by any matching items under the system.xml namespace.
    also, when items are shown in intellisense, i should be able to google for examples of their use -- similarly when error messages come up, there should be a "google this" option in the task list.

  11. Avatar for Yeni
    Yeni March 25th, 2007

    Koders - Source Code Search Engine

  12. Avatar for Dave Donaldson
    Dave Donaldson March 27th, 2007

    You cut me real deep with no mention of CodeKeep ;-)

  13. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked March 27th, 2007

    Sorry Dave! But I see CodeKeep as a snippet repository. Not as a general purpose code search engine that goes out and indexes source code in the wild. Am I mistaken?

  14. Avatar for Dave Donaldson
    Dave Donaldson March 27th, 2007

    No, you're right. CodeKeep is simply a code snippet repository. I was just giving you a hard time :-D

  15. Avatar for Community Blogs
    Community Blogs May 11th, 2007

    Today is my last day of work as a VelocIT employee, a company I helped start and had (and still have)

  16. Avatar for you've been HAACKED
    you've been HAACKED May 18th, 2007

    Searching Open Source Code With Open Source

  17. Avatar for Community Blogs
    Community Blogs May 18th, 2007

    First week on the job and I’ve already got the keys to the company blog . I just posted my first post

  18. Avatar for Susie
    Susie July 26th, 2012

    We have an announcement! The new is Ohloh Code: Check it out! it'd be great to get your feedback.
    We want to be the new Google Code Search. Guide us.
    all the best,
    susie at blackducksoftware dot com