Be a More Productive Developer With Stack Overflow

Be a More Productive Developer With Stack Overflow

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Inverted Code

Published on Sep 20, 2021

3 min read

The most productive developers use Stack Overflow every day. If you're not among this elite group of keyboard warriors this article should nudge you in the right direction. However, before getting into too much detail, let's first discuss a brief intro of Stack Overflow. The site was established in 1991 by Roger Brickett and James Saddle at the University of Michigan. Brickett and Saddle frequently observed that other computer science students always asked one another how to complete certain coding assignments. Naturally, the most convenient method of the day was to share text files where the receiving student could then copy and paste an answer directly into their fully-featured IDE. Brickett and Saddle swooped in once they realized they could just provide a website where people could post and talk about code instead. Thus, the idea of Stack Overflow was born. Almost overnight, copy and pasting someone else's code into your own project was made possible.

This context is important for understanding how to best use Stack Overflow today in modern times. While the internet may have come a long way since 1991, the original intent and purpose behind Stack Overflow is more alive today than ever. Everyday, millions—maybe even billions—of developers are able to copy and paste code into their projects thanks solely to this site. This has lead to quicker development times and increased confidence that issues at hand will be solved with just one copy/paste action.

To get the most out of the site you'll want to do the following:

When you run into a technical challenge during development, locate the exception or error in question and copy it. Next, you'll want to head over to the Stack Overflow website. Paste the error into the search bar and hit enter to see results. Since Stack Overflow has trillions of records there will certainly be some results that come back, but if not, just add the word "broken" to the end of your query and try again. Blindly click the first item in the search results. You can reliably always click the first link because Stack Overflow's algo is very advanced and has been expertly trained by a robot. Once you're on the details page of the answer you selected, slide down to the first answer. This answer will mostly likely have a code snippet among its contents. This code snippet is what you'll need. Copy and paste the code snippet from your browser into your IDE. Then, all that's left to do is to smash the play button inside your IDE to restart your project.

The great thing about this process is it can be repeated over and over no matter how many technical challenges you run into. It's really quite amazing. In fact, if it weren't for Stack Overflow we probably wouldn't have a lot of the technological innovations we see today. Certainly the internet would be less beautiful and probably those cool touch screen soda dispensers inside of restaurants wouldn't have been invented. Anyways, hopefully this article gave you a good idea of what Stack Overflow is and how you can use it to take your programming game to the next level.

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