Every developer has thought Am I really a developer or just a good googler? which is a fair question. It’s something I’ve asked myself a multitude of times.

Recently, this question has been bugging me more than usual, as I have been learning the ins and outs of Ruby and RoR. Recently, I sat down with a graph composition book and wrote down all the differences of “Good Googler” and “Good Developer”.

First of all, I think it makes sense to define what we mean by good. In the context of this blog post, let’s define “good” as “capable of doing the task in an excellent and elegant manner”.

Let’s go ahead and define each separately, then we can compare the difference.

Good Googler

  • They can put together a search query
  • Their search query returns information relevant to their needed information
  • They take the code, copy/pasta it into their code and utilize it (as is, with minor tweaks at most)

Good Developer

  • They can put together a search query
  • Their search query returns information relevant to their needed information
  • They understand the code provided to them by returned links
  • They understand the way the code fits directly into their codebase
  • They typically tweak the code to either reduce unneeded functionality, or add additional functionality

That’s great, so what’s the difference?

Before I get into the difference, I actually want to look at the similarities between the two.

The similarities are as follows:

  • They can put together a search query
  • Their search query returns information relevant to their needed information
  • They utilize the code in some way

Note the bolded bullet: “They utilize the code in some way”. I bolded this because I needed to paraphrase them to make them meld together.

The key difference is how the developer implements the code into their codebase.

A good googler simply copy/pastas the code into their codebase, typically doesn’t understand the code, so they are typically unable to modify the code to fit their needs.

A good developer has all the traits of a good googler (very important to note that most good developers are ALSO good googlers!), but also has the ability to understand/edit the code.

TL;DR

If you find yourself utilizing code you don’t understand, you’re only a good googler.

Understanding the code you utilize is what makes you a developer, rather than a good googler.