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What are the hardest coding terms to search for?

Ben Halpern on January 15, 2020

Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ Jan 4 ... [Read Full]
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SOAP. Back in the day when I was first learning how it worked, I wondered if I could make Ajax work with it somehow.

So I googled "ajax soap".

I don't know what I expected


The other day I had two idiotic moments:

  1. Forgot how to expand out a JAR file (is it just unzip? or something special?)

  2. Proceeded to automatically google "how to open jar". I immediately facepalmed at my desk.


you can actually rename jar and war (maybe also ear) files to zip and unzip with any utility


On my comment, swift itself is easy to google.

But then you have Taylor in Swift, good luck :)

GitHub logo izqui / Taylor

A lightweight library for writing HTTP web servers with Swift


This is the most epic thig so far, as in funny software stuff


GraphQL was up there until I trained my search engine that I indeed wanted "graphql" and not "graphical".

But when I was in school I took at look at learning F# and that was a nightmare as there is both and F and F* programming language and we hadn't yet really allowed # to be called "sharp" in search. I'm sure this contributed to me thinking that language was just not for me.


F# is one of the best languages in my opinion


I was writing in Scala at that point and didn't see any real advantages for me personally.

Did you hear about computational expressions? Some go as far as calling then generalised do notation / async await! Those are amazing, maybe some langs have similar features as well, idk, but it's one of the reasons I love f# now

Oh wow! I just looked at some of the docs and examples for those and they look super powerful.

How long have you been writing F#? I think I looked at it in 2011 or 2012.

Folks, are F# and Scala comparable in terms of ecosystem and utility?

Re: how log I've been writing f# for

Not a long time, about 3 months at this point


"SQL Server"... You know, the specific SQL implementation from Microsoft... A little ambiguous for a search engine. Took me a little while to realize it's Transact-SQL, tsql, or ssms that I should put in my queries


Ms-sql? Haven't used it since Windows 2003, but I believe that's what I used to Google.


FYI I've learned that everyone outside of SQL Server uses MSSQL for the abbreviation. That take helps when you start digging into RDS SQL Server πŸ˜„


Yeah whatever works. It was a fun little game trying to Google any issue I had.


Prefixed CSS properties like -webkit-overflow-scrolling because search engines think the first hyphen is a negation πŸ™ƒ


I always have to remember to quote the string after I paste that type of code or PowerShell.


Gatsby is pretty difficult because "The Great Gatsby" stuff dominates the SEO!


I've had a great time trying to search for "manipulating state in children". I was not prepared for the results...


ahh clasic one also how to kill parents without killing childrens


When I was developing for Adobe Experience Manager, it had been rebranded twice.

Microsoft also has this issue with Cosmo DB.

Adobe renamed the template language sightly to something else.

Sight Catalyst was renamed to Adobe Analytics.

In general every time a product gets renamed, it makes it incredibly difficult. Google does not really understand legacy documents vs new documentation, or that rebranding happened.

You end up searching for solutions to problems, swapping out the branded name. Just because the name changed, often the API and issues didn’t.

Naming this is hard as a dev. Marketing switching names on us, makes it even harder on us to adopt the technology.

To make matters worse, once a rename happens, the old language has to be removed from the new documentation and distanced from it. Yet the legacy docs are still present.

Even adding β€œpreviously called x” somewhere on the page would help inform google. But instead the old branding is scarce, because they want to move on.


When I first started learning Angular I was using Angular 2 beta. At that time the earlier version was being re-branded as Angularjs (both architectures completely different, of course!) which made Googling a bit hit or miss for a year or so as you could never be immediately sure which one you had the answers for.


It always took me two or three queries to find help for boot, a build tool for Clojure. Once you narrow down that you mean it in a computing sense, not footwear, it's still a ridiculously overloaded term and my use case is one of the more niche ones. Runners up: rust, BASIC, forth.

Naming things is hard.


Naming things is hard.

Amen. (But we'll still moan when people don't get it 100% perfect.)


Not exactly "hard", but searching for "Rust tutorial" will bring a bunch of stuff about base building in a survival video game. Especially if you search on youtube.


If you search DuckDuckGo for Rust you'll get Rust, real Rust


Since Google created both AngularJS and Angular, one would think their search would know the difference, but alas not.


Angular now refers to Angular2+, whereas AngularJS refers to Angular 1.X.X. They are very different animals. 😊


Yes, but I think that's exactly Google Search's response πŸ˜†


I just had a nightmare searching where to find GitLab runners, and could only find GitLab runners API documentation, but not a single doc on where to view the runners on the web app (or I am very tired)!


Do you mean the page? Under your project's Settings / CI/CD, there is a list of specific runners you've registered with your project, and available shared runners. It's that what you had in mind? (Click expand next to Runners).


Damn, I just spend a day realizing I was not using my admin account but my developer account, that's why I could not find this menu πŸ˜‚ thank you for the guidance!


Microsoft comes out with a lot of impossible to search programming concepts, like the language "P".

Of course, "C" and all that stuff really started this mess. I guess when we dealt with manuals instead of search engines that made sense. But considering "P" was developed ~2017, that's not much of an excuse.


I always fuck up searches around the C language.

Almost always getting C# results (due to the # being omitted in URLs)


And C# was hard for me as browsers did C/# and then results came back for C


Also, Rust usually talks about the game, if you're searching for some more "social" content (like blogs and such).

Sometimes, even adding "lang" doesn't help.

I knew it! Google search is getting worse. Lately when I Google things i takes a while. Before it was type in and click first result no questions asked. Joking aside I thing searching negative stuff is quite hard. Like how to do this WITHOUT that.

Tbh, I went for duckduckgo for technical work, usually much more precise, and much less "sponsored" content


I love all the true, yet comical answers so far. As a lighthearted answer, I'll add "LESS" as another example. Or ".net" (let's name something the same as a TLD!)

On a more serious note, my real answer to this question would be "the hardest coding terms to search for are those you do not yet know". Let me elaborate.

  1. A lot of languages use symbols, or syntax that might seem unusual to a beginner, that makes it hard to search for. For example, using @... for dependency injection in some languages. If you have never used DI before, you might have no idea what to even search for in order to learn more.

  2. A lot of things (languages, frameworks, libraries, etc) use what I often call "magic", but most know as "abstractions". Most of the time these make our jobs easier as coders, but when things go wrong and you need to figure out more about how they work, it make searching for answers difficult.

    • The more something resembles a "black box", the harder it is to know how to search for information. How can you get answers when you don't even know the question?

I once had the same theory same about C. Nightmare to google. Sure, the language pre-dates the internet ... but they knew, man.


For a long time when I was writing tutorials I didn't know what to call "=>" TBH I'm still not sure.


Since there's a lot of arrow things like "fat arrow" I say be creative let's call it "to the right pointy thingy" because why not


it's the nominal part of an arrow function, so I'd go with arrow


"fat arrow"... Its name comes from Coffeescript, where there are also"thin" arrows (->), I believe.


There's a serverless framework built for AWS called Architect. It's really neat to work with and encodes mountains of config into a really simple .arc file.

But try searching for "Architect". Or "AWS Architect" or "AWS serverless architect".

I swear my work thinks I'm looking for a new job because those are the only results I find. 😬


well finding information about Github actions or in general, any Github feature is quite hard


I've had a lot of trouble back when I first started learning Processing, the programming language for visual stuff.

The search engines seem to be a lot better now but back when I first started learning it, it was hard to find much of because the word "processing", especially in the context of "programming", has a lot of options.


That’s why it’s commonly called p5 for short


Anything with special characters in the name: looking at you "A*" (an algorithm).

I also got confused recently by searching for "brew service", and was surprised when I did not get results pertaining to Homebrew.


x.y is incredibly annoying to google since I can't just type it into my address bar.


In Google Chrome, just press ctrl-k instead of ctrl-l to open the address bar in search mode, or add a ? before, as in ?x.y


"g x.y" in address bar will work on Opera and there's a lot of those examples where I have to use g in front of things I search and you can do same for other search engines just change the first letter


"How do I make a child kill its parents, refuse to become an orphan, and then become its own parent?"
It was for a computer systems exam. Don't ask why this would ever be useful knowledge. It isn't.

The top result for this search term is:


Just remembered while using Micronaut wanted to search for GORM. Now given the popularity of Go language recently it's translated to Go ORM library. If you need Groovy thing you need to specify Grails GORM

EDIT: While commenting at this thread just remembered "negative" searches are quite hard to figure out. Like if you need "How to make this without that", or "Using this NO that", or any way you try to force machine to read negative word, at least 80% of the time top results will include basic result you get by googling it in opposite meaning. If you exclude word by using search engine utility you also end up still on the same pages as most of them won't use that word inside of the ext but rather an implicit connection will be made like if you search "azure java deploy" and exclude spring and maven you will still end up in some of those pages where both maven and spring are used or no results at all


I've played and googled a lot of rust(game) and then i tried to learn it... "Rust tutroial" wasn't returning as expected. I was glad that "rustlang tutorial" worked well


Angular terms are harder to search and get meaning about those terms. The learning curve is very steep when we consider angular as a front end frame work


Searching for Actor Model usually turns up pictures of celebrities.


Recently, I've had some fun results when I've searched on topics relating to the new Ruby static typing gem, Sorbet 🍦



On Google, it's fine. But internal searches on other sites... Often have to spell out sharp.


Angular / Angular 2,4,7...

It was a mistake.


Looking up stuff about inheritance and killing children. Scotland Yard were bound to see that.


Not related to dev, but searching for the electric music genre "hardcore" can also lead you on a quite different track. 😊


"the"!! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL! Somebody needs to do this! :D :D


A lot of Oracle APEX stuff gets responses regarding Salesforce. So I always have to type in "Oracle APEX -salesforce". It's so annoying.

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