A simple trick I’ve started using when learning about new tools or technologies is to just type in “{name} vs” in Google search and see what pops up. This relies on the wisdom of the crowds and Google’s prediction to give me insight into other items in the same space. Oftentimes going to the corporate site gives me standard marketing copy but looking at comparisons provides the actual details: What do people use it for? What are the competitors? How does it compare against them? What are some success stories? What are some failure cases?

Looking at just the site and reading a few white papers only gives you the positive elements. What’s more important is the knowledge of what the tool or technology doesn’t do. This allows me to actually think about the vision for what I’m building and use that knowledge to anticipate the potential issues. Then by seeing what problems others have had I can determine whether they may be relevant to my problem. Otherwise I may end up building something only to realize that my entire foundation was flawed and needs to be rebuilt.

Of course this isn’t a panacea and it’s impossible to get everything from a Google search but it’s quick and easy enough to not need a second thought. You might not discover anything new but if you do it would have been well worth it.

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