Developers and hackers alike were celebrating as Google Labs recently announced the release of an updated version of their Code Search tool. Conventionally, Google Code Search makes it easier for programmers to search for source code directly and find open source tools they may not have known about. Some key new improvements take the tool's usefulness to the next level.Code Search was released in October 2006 and enabled users to search over billions of lines of public source code.
The latest features of Code Search include:
* Greater coverage:
indexes individual files and code snippets from all over the Web; previously, only complete archives (.zip, .tar, etc) and repositories (CVS and Subversion) were indexed
* Improved ranking:
shows class and method definitions closer to the top of search results for certain queries
* Improved access:
allows users can now access Google Code Search through several international domains, including Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, and Spain.
On its developer blog
, Google software engineer, Aleksander Fedorynski wrote that the Code Search update was done to "make it even easier to find the code you're looking for." Fantastic.
However, as useful as this new update may be to developers, there is still concern expressed that Code Search makes it easier for hackers to search for software bugs and password information.
After its initial launch, security experts noted that the implications of Google Code Search
were "earth shattering." Google hasn't addressed the potential issues of hacking, but as suggested by users' comments on various sites to the Google Code Search update, hacking is seen as inevitable when open source is concerned, noting that the only prevention is for developers to stop using insecure code that will be susceptible to hackers and/or for OSS vendors and teams to stay on the ball as security issues emerge.
On the flip side of this, we do see an upside to the increased exposure and potential increase for exploitations. It is manifest in the oft repeated (but perhaps not always true) saying that what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. In the case of open source software, perhaps Code Search -- and the light it shines in the nooks and crannies -- is making the world a safer place after all.
Has Code Search been "earth shattering" for you? If you've been bitten or blessed, we'd like to know. Share your thoughts or experiences below