Dan Appleman: Kibitzing and Commentary

My personal blog

The Ramifications of Google Custom Search

I’m a tech skeptic. Seriously. My first reaction to anything new is almost always doubt – especially if it comes with a ton of hype. And I stay skeptical for a long time. As a result, my track record for predicting which technology will be slow to catch on (or fail) is pretty good. Unfortunately, as with most people, my track record for predicting which technology is going to boom is average – I usually figure it out after it’s happened.
Once I got it right – when I saw the Visual Basic 1.0 beta, I knew that it was going to be huge and change the nature of software development. I responded to that change by launching Desaware.
This week I felt the same way when I saw Google Custom Search. Within 12 hours I had launched SearchDotNet.com – really as an experiment (and a tool for my own research, that is already proving useful).
The more I think of it the more I’m convinced that Google Custom Search is going to do for search what VB did to Windows development – change the paradigm.

SearchDotNet.com – A Google custom search for .NET developers

So this morning I noticed Google launched a new custom search tool – where you can basically customize the Google search engine to search across a set of sites and perform other customizations. Basically a domain specific search.
Is I mentioned in my last post, I consider discoverability one of the greatest challenges facing developers today (it’s certainly the single greatest challenge I face in my daily work). Somewhere out there are answers to almost every technical problem – but how to find it?
Using Google custom search to create a .NET domain specific search engine was a no-brainer. A quick visit to GoDaddy and who would have believed it: SearchDotNet.com was available!
So here it is – a Google powered .NET domain specific search. I’m still early in the process of adding sites. Some of the choices are obvious (MSDN, duh!). Other sites are those that I’ve had the most luck with finding answers to problems I found challenging.
I’m particularly interested in finding more “experts” sites – those that help answer really tough problems, or those that have advanced content – but that are often lost in the noise. These will get the “by_experts” tag that allow them to really stand out.
So, if you have favorite sites that you think just HAVE to be included in the list, please let me know (by Email or comments). I’m not trying to just build a list of all .NET sites – quite the opposite. There are plenty of aggregators (not to mention general Google search) that are great at searching everything. What I need (and am trying to implement) is a tool I can use for an initial search that has a higher probability of finding a good solution to problems – especially on more advanced topics. Then, if it fails, I’ll go to the broader web search.
Plus, I’ll be adding content to the site on the topic of discoverability in general. Keeping up with rapidly changing technology is no easy thing, and hopefully I can make a contribution to that effort as well.

Update: 14 years have gone by and I’ve long since abandoned that site. However, the concept is still sound – and I’m using it now at SearchTheForce.com – a custom search engine for all things Salesforce.