Google Now Helps You Search For || And More
Written by Mike James   
Wednesday, 08 March 2017

There are some things that you have more trouble searching for than others. Any programming notation generally causes big problems. Now Google has done something about it - the only question is why  did it take so long?!



There are some things you should never call a programming language. C++ is bad and C is worse. Go is perhaps the best example of a real problem. These days typing "Golang" into Google mostly solves the problem, but when the language first appeared trying to find anything about it was almost impossible because of the confusion with the game of Go.

Google's search engine is quite good at working out context. For example, if you have just made a search for a computer term and then search for Python you get the language not the animal. Same for Ruby, Rust and R. It makes you long for the days when languages had names that made it clear that they were computer languages - no confusion about FORTRAN, Cobol or Algol. Even APL and PL/1 were unique. 

The use of punctuation in a search term also causes Google lots of problems. The reason is that the search index generally ignores punctuation as not being relevant to meaning. Now you can search for sequences of two and three special characters like ||, ===, +=, != and so on. These are rare enough to make it possible to add them to the index without too much increase in size. 



This is a big step forward for programmer kind. As the Google blog explains:

For example, if you’re searching for the meaning of [c++17], you will get results for the well-known programming language instead of c17, which brings up a Boeing airplane.


It also helps if you are trying to find Notepad++.  It probably isn't going to be of much help to APL programmers, however, as they have enough trouble typing the symbols and usually they want to ask about just one symbol.



Google is rumored to be working on an AI-based search algorithm that should at some point in the future allow us to type in something more descriptive. Will this help with my problem of searching for C but not C# or C++?

Can't wait. 


More Information

Improvements to searching for special characters in programming languages

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 08 March 2017 )