Heron-Centric: Ruminations of a Language Designer The Trouble with Searching for Open-Source Code by Christopher Diggins October 27, 2005
I frequently encounter open-source code which reimplements code which exists elsewhere (and usually does so badly). When everyone is busy reinventing the wheel, no one has the time to build a cart.
Even though some developers are guilty of simply not doing research, part of the problem is that finding open-source code for a particular purpose is hard. Search engines are well suited for finding text, but not source code. This is because:
Source code documents are not often distributed directly on the web, but rather as part of compressed packages
Documentation and source-code are often separated. Robots have trouble creating hard-links between documentation and the source code.
Comments in source-code, are treated with the same level of priority as function names, and variables. This means that they aren't indexed with the proper level of priority.
So how does this get solved? Well I can see two ways:
Search engines start applying specialized techniques for parsing and indexing source code.
Open-source developers come up with a new standardized language independant format for distributing source code. (perhaps Open-Source-XML?)
I think either (or both) of these technologies could have a significant impact on moving software technology forward.
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Christopher Diggins is a software developer and freelance writer. Christopher loves programming, but is eternally frustrated by the shortcomings of modern programming languages. As would any reasonable person in his shoes, he decided to quit his day job to write his own ( www.heron-language.com ). Christopher is the co-author of the C++ Cookbook from O'Reilly. Christopher can be reached through his home page at www.cdiggins.com.