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What's on Your Hard Drive?

If you have visited the Queue Web site recently, you will have noticed an invitation to tell us about tools that you use—how they make your life wonderful or how they make your life a living hell. Every month the editors will carefully select four of these submissions from the millions received. If you’re one of the chosen, you’ll receive a complimentary (and oh so very flatter-ing) Queue t-shirt, the Holy Grail of the software development industry. To find out more, visit our Web site:

Who: Carilda A. Thomas
What industry: Consulting
Where: Pennsylvania
Flavor: Develops on Linux for Linux/Solaris
Tool I love! Vi. What’s not to love? Multiple marks, never have to take my fingers off of the keyboard, macros, dot key, paired character matching, set environment, execute anything within vi. Programming is thinking and typing and letting the compiler (GCC) find your typos. The rest is fluff.
Tool I hate! All of the canned IDEs. I have met people who have used IDEs exclusively and have no idea how to compile a program, much less how to set up a complex build environment. Silly languages such as C++ and Java are probably OK in that they will set up the gobs of repetitive stuff you have to do, but, for the gist of the programming, you are constrained to their particular gestalt.

Who: Yao Gang
What industry: Electrical engineering
Where: Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Flavor: Develops on Unix for Unix
Tool I love! Matlab. It has most fascinating computations for signal-processing applications. Although it works under the algorithm level, I have a clear mind on the transition count of the signal node. So I need not bother to care about the details of the implementations on the signal-processing level. Furthermore, the Simulink toolbox provides a convenient method to design something very quickly.
Tool I hate! NC-Verilog. The power compiler is very inconvenient, inaccurate, and difficult to use. The results that I obtain are quite different from what I get from my back-end tools.

Who: Pete Clark
What industry: Software development
Where: St. Paul, Minnesota
Flavor: Mac OS X for Windows, Solaris, Linux, Mac OS X
Tool I love! IntelliJ IDEA. It’s a fast, easy-to-use Java IDE. It has integrated refactoring tools. It never gets in my way as a coder, and it knows what I mean often enough to be useful.
Tool I hate! Vi. A number of developers at my company use vi for developing C code; pair programming with them is painful. We’re building software for the 21st century; it’s ironic that some of us are doing it with tools from the 1970s.

Who: Emmanuel Florac
What industry: Computer storage
Where: Suresnes Cedex, France
Flavor: Develops on Linux Slackware for Linux, Solaris, Irix, Mac OS X, and Windows
Tool I love! NEdit. It’s simple, straightforward, and surprisingly powerful with the addition of a couple of macros and extensions. It’s light enough to run on antiquated hardware. Together with perl, it’s unbeatable—and it really runs everywhere.
Tool I hate! PHP. The syntax is wrong, the speed is laughable, and the compatibility is nil: I had to rewrite whole parts of existing code to migrate from PHP 3 to PHP 4, then from PHP 4.0 to PHP 4.2; that’s two rewrites in 18 months!


Originally published in Queue vol. 2, no. 6
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