Life without stackoverflow!

Shiv and I took up a challenge, “no mindless stackoverflow use” recently for 15 days. The purpose was to figure out our performance without stackoverflow and if its possible to completely avoid it.

Our new project “Security Management” was in initial phase, AngularJS and Java were the selected technologies. Since both of the technologies were new to us the challenge became even more exciting.

On the very first day when we took up this task I was supposed to implement grid/table in angular. We were building an ERP system and grid was supposed to be on almost every page. Stackoverflow was the place were I could get list of angular plugins available with their pros and cons and whatever views people had on them. No wonders stackoverflow links were on top of search results, patiently I started to filter out github pages and started to explore one by one. Some of them had demo others did not and I had to install them one by one and compare. It took a lot of time but finally I settled up with “smart-table”. I really recommend this plugin for angularJS it has built in features such as searching, filtering, sorting, pagination etc.

Since the technologies were new to us we were getting stuck very frequently, Stackoverflow was the easy way out (it was practically calling us, even in my dreams). Every search we made and stackoverflow was on the top, having answers to our problems. It was quite tempting but we had to resist. We used to go back to the official documentations and blogs. One such example is ng-repeat of angular, its analogous to #each of ember. I wanted to access the index variable. Stackoverflow could have solved it in seconds but I scanned the official documentation and as anticipated it took us more time, another perspective is each time I was going back to documentation I was learning countless things (it might not help me solve the problem currently on my plate but it cleared my concepts on this new techstack). Going a bit off track, but I was really impressed by angular, It allows computations in template {{index+1}} and works well.

At times it was so frustrating, like when we created a module and it was not turning up. Exact error was there on stackoverflow. After going through blogs we realised every module’s js file is supposed to be included in index.html file.

Meanwhile I shifted to my earlier project for a day to implement push notifications on iOS 10. To override notifications in iOS 10, I was supposed to set some field in HTTP/2 header. Our current implementation was different and we were not using HTTP/2 and even the default version of apache2 supported by Ubuntu 14.04 is not having HTTP/2 support. Due to time constraints I had to break my stackoverflow fast. During this entire timeframe, this incident was the only one when I had to use stackoverflow, didn’t open it for more than 3 times.

I would say I am confused if I should appreciate it or worry how Google keeps a close eye on us. Stackoverflow started to disappear from my front page of search results as days passed. What I realised was no developer likes being monitored by a piece of code. We just love our privacy.

To conclude I would say yes It is possible to avoid using stackoverflow. It needs patience, lots of patience. But at times it becomes necessary especially when your project has rigid deadlines. We all can be wise with ourselves and decide the best approach when to use and when to avoid.

I would really love to hear about your experience if any of you is willing to take the baton forward.

By – Mohd Saif, Software Engineer

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