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Pragmatic StackOverflow Programmer

What do programmers need to know? Data structures, algorithms, git, ... but there is always some missing aspects if you try to search for programmer education materials online, which is like a set of folk knowledge that is from very recent development such that it is rarely written down. For example, how to get up-to-speed with a new programming language when you have a specific business need to solve? You can't find how to do this in a standard text book for this programming language, and it takes quite some time to grasp how to do this (spoiler: using StackOverflow effectively is a part of it), esp. if you are not already a veteran PL polyglot. This article will encompass many things like that, mostly from personal experiences in Q&A survey style, while the editor (that is, me, who wrote this preface) will try to organize them as orderly as possible.

There is already a book called "Pragmatic Programmer", which systematically introduces some generic wisdom in programming. We will avoid this type of text book knowledge, that is, knowledge that is known for a long time. We focus on knowledge that is really new, like knowledge that made possible due to the popularity of StackOverflow. Thus, we call this article "Pragmatic StackOverflow Programmer".

Let's get started!


TODO: an overview of the aspects to consider in this topic.

Programming Languages

Demand-driven PL learning

Question: Say you are joining a new team which uses a language X that you never used before, or if you need to start a small side project that uses a new promising language Y, how do you make sure that you can learn just enough for your specific needs while being productive from day one?

Master the ecosystem of tools for the new PL



Question: How to get up to speed with a new IDE or a new editor? Note that some companies have in-house solutions that no one outside is using, which makes this question even more important.

Contribute to this article

  • This article is very much a work in progress, you are welcomed to suggest questions that we can add, or some of your thoughts of some existing questions
  • This article is in English right now, but you are welcomed to translate it to other languages. Just try to refer back to this link and also tell Zhen about your translation!

Solve a error msg or any technical issue you don't know before

  • Search online
    • Make assumptions and guesses
    • Not all solutions are working on your particular case -- be patient
    • Read official doc more carefully
  • Ask
    • Peers
    • StackOverflow
    • Support forums