Developer search engine for code snippets comes with caveats

0
14

The YouCode search engine helps developers find code snippets and relevant documentation. Questions surround its utility and monetization strategy, however.

YouCode, launched earlier this month, is an extension of the You.com search engine, which went online in November as a competitor to Google. YouCode features highlighted code snippets in search results, although developers can also search for documentation and other relevant programming information. While the tool can speed up coding, industry experts question how user data will be used in the future and whether its usefulness extends beyond learning code.

Unlike Google, which requires developers to open new tabs to view code snippets, developers can find examples and explanations without leaving the current window.

“Searching for help using the usual Google search goes beyond what a developer needs, putting the developer responsible for narrowing down the results,” said Larry Carvalho, principal consultant at RobustCloud. “YouCode is very specific and can improve developer efficiencies by returning results relevant to a developer’s needs.”

Use results with caution

More than 20 of the most used developer sites are aggregated by You.com’s AI-enabled search engine, including Stack Overflow, GitHub, PyTorch and Hugging Face, said Richard Socher, founder and CEO of You.com.

The search engine returns the most popular result for a certain keyword. For example, if a developer enters “prime numbers JavaScript,” the engine returns the top-rated code snippets from Stack Overflow.

The search results programming contain pertinent suggestions for queries, said Kevin Jordan, a partner at Security Research Group, a cyber security firm.

If you’re searching for something in Python, perhaps you’re trying to remember how to iterate a list … right away, you can understand what you need to do.

Kevin JordanPartner, Security Research Group.

“If you’re searching for something in Python, perhaps you’re trying to remember how to iterate a list,” Jordan said. “Right away, you can understand what you need to do.”

Most of the results seem to come from StackOverflow, but that doesn’t come as a surprise to one developer.

“That is exactly where I would go to find relevant code for a project,” said Chris Riley, senior manager of developer relations at marketing tech firm HubSpot.

However, if a developer doesn’t want results from a specific site or wants to prioritize results from a preferred source, an easy-to-find thumbs-up or thumbs-down button appears alongside the code snippets. That site will then show less — or more — often depending on the rating, Socher said.

Like an AI pair programmer, any hints and suggestions from code completion tools should be taken with a grain of salt.

“It is super easy to glue a bunch of other people’s code together for a result that works, which is not best practice by any means,” Riley said. “I see the primary use case as learning and prototypes. In an engineering organization, I doubt this practice would be accepted as it poses a security risk.”

Search results for YouCode are customizable.

Roadmap may include subscriptions

You.com received $25 million in Series A funding this month, bringing its total capital raised to $45 million, according to a company press release.

The cash infusion, led by AI-focused Radical Ventures, will be used to open the entire You.com platform for features such as enabling users to build apps that run search results, which should be available later this year, Socher said. But the company’s priority right now is improving the YouCode feature for developers, he said.

Although YouCode is free and doesn’t run ads, the company may adopt a subscription-based model in the future, Socher said.

As such, the future of monetization for You.com and YouCode is unclear.

“How both products will use your search history with targeted advertisements, especially email addresses, remains to be seen,” Carvalho said.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here