TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Google Launches Search Service for Computer Code

Google Launches Search Service for Computer Code

Eric Auchard (
Thu, 05 Oct 2006 14:22:52 -0500

Eric Auchard

Google Inc. is introducing a new search service that only a geek could love.

The Web search leader said late on Wednesday it is introducing Google
Code Search, a site that simplifies how software developers search for
programming code to improve existing software or create new programs.

Google product manager Tom Stocky said the Mountain View,
California-based company is set to help programmers sift through
billions of lines of computer source code using its familiar search box
to uncover snippets of reusable software.

"For a long time it has been sort of an unsolved problem," said Stocky,
a product manager in the developer products group. "It is hard to find
references to this sort of data."

Google is applying the same machine-driven techniques it uses to help
consumers search the Web for text, images, video and books to help
professional programmers as well as computer enthusiasts overcome
stumbling blocks to writing code.

Searchers can seek out specific programming terms or computer languages
and dive deep into compressed code to locate specific features. Users
also can narrow a search to find software code based on specific
licensing requirements, which is a big deal in warding off future patent

Similar to how a consumer might type a few words into a standard Google
search box for answers, programmers can seek out relevant lines of code
at -- except the results are for
machine-readable phrases such as "go 2}gle" "hello,\ world" or "^int


It's commonplace, when looking to improve a particular line of
software, for most code writers to search the Web for quick tips. But
finding actual programming code rather than just discussions about a
particular coding problem is tough.

To meet this need, sites such as Koder, O'Reilly Labs or have sprung up that offer repositories of code.
Most are small, require membership and are often devoted to only a
specific class of software or problem.

Some programmers say Google Code Search answers some of the nightmares
of building software, by creating a central place to trawl for
publicly available code.

"(Google Code Search) may come in handy when looking for different
ways of approaching a particular programming problem," said Niall
Kennedy, a San Francisco technical blog commentator.

Others were less impressed: "Functional and simple, but therein lies
the problem," said the writer of a site called "Digital Alchemy," who
sees few advantages over existing sites.

Google searches through code repositories that are popular among
programmers -- CollabNet's Subversion and another alternative called
CVS, Stocky said.

The service began as a way for Google programmers to search through
internal company code. It added a search of publicly available code
and recently Google decided it might as well open up the service to

Google Code Search is in test mode on Google's Labs site.

Initially, Google Code Search is free of advertising. Should the site
prove popular, Stocky said Google may consider running pay-per-click
advertising along search results, the way it makes money from its more
mainstream search services, he said.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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