Developers: Use this new tool to solve programming problems on Stack Overflow

A solution called CROKAGE helps developers parse through the 27 million answers on the platform to find the one they need to fix their code.

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When developers hit a wall programming, many turn to Stack Overflow for answers from the site's community of over 100 million users. But with more than 18 million questions and 27 million answers available on the site, finding what you are looking for can be a challenge. 

A new tool called the Crowd Knowledge Answer Generator (CROKAGE) created by a team of computer science researchers seeks to solve this problem and help developers more easily find specific answers to their exact queries. The tool works by taking the description of a programming task as a query, and then providing relevant programming solutions that contain both code snippets and their explanations, according to a Stack Overflow blog post, published last week. 

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Developers searching for relevant code examples for their programming tasks often run into two major problems, according to a paper the researchers published on CROKAGE. One, the search is hurt due to a lexical gap between the query or task description and the information associated with the solution, and two, the found solution may not be comprehensive, leading developers to have to search through dozens of pages to find the right answer.

Solutions found via CROKAGE contain both relevant code examples, as well as short explanations of those examples, the paper noted. 

"Our proposed approach expands the task description with relevant API classes from Stack Overflow Q & A threads and then mitigates the lexical gap problems," according to the paper. "Furthermore, we perform natural language processing on the top quality answers and then return such programming solutions containing code examples and code explanations unlike earlier studies." 

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CROKAGE contains some limitations: For example, if the query is not formulated well, the tool will not help you improve it, Stack Overflow noted. It is also limited to Java queries for now, though the creators said they hope to release an expanded version publicly soon. 

You can try CROKAGE in its experimental form now. 

For more, check out How to become a developer: A cheat sheet on TechRepublic. 

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