At this weeks Wellington .NET user group, James asked me how I find stuff - when I need to find out how to get something done, how do I find the information I need. Here’s what I told him.

Google

There are a number of simple tricks that often bring back useful results.

  • Add C# as a search term to constrain the results to those that mention the language I’m using

  • Adding MSDN means that results from MSDN tend to come to the top of the pile. Interesting that this is often faster than searching MSDN directly.

  • Using site:blogs.msdn.com to search Microsoft Blogs directly is also useful.

Searchdotnet

Dan Appleman believes that one of the major impediments we face today, as developers, is one of discoverability - how do we find out what we need to know. His response to this problem is searchdotnet a search engine for just .NET material. SearchDotNet is a Custom Google Search, so you get all that pagerank goodness, but with a dedicated .NET flavour.

Blogs

I read a lot of blogs to stay up to date with what is happening in the field - a useful side effect of this is that I’m often aware of others who are already working in an area when I have a problem. This gives me additional search terms to use that are often useful - for example, when searching for a solution to an NHibernate problem, adding “ayende” to the search often brings the useful results to the top.

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