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What's on Your Hard Drive?

From its humble beginnings, WOYHD has grown into a bit of a phenomenon. Submissions pour in daily, creating piles of late-night prescreening work for the Queue oompa loompas. We’re also receiving e-mail feedback from irate readers, questioning why we published Joe Blow’s emphatic endorsement of such and such IDE when “frankly, it totally sucks.” To accommodate these impulses we’re taking WOYHD to the Web, where we’ll post each month’s results, complete with a comments feature so you can argue about which tools are great and which tools you hate. Visit our Web site ( and let the battle, er, discussion, begin!


Who: Matthew Gordon

What industry: Scientific data visualization

Where: Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

Flavor: Develops on Mac OS X for Mac OS X, Linux and Windows

Tool I love! NEdit. It’s flexible, scriptable, and has all the niceties (syntax highlighting, ctags support, etc.) that make a good programmer’s text editor. It is powerful in the hands of an experienced user, but it doesn’t require arcane knowledge to operate.

Tool I hate! Monolithic IDEs and programs that don’t play well with others. NEdit, gcc, Make, Latex, Perl, sh, AppleScript, QuickTime, etc. are great tools because they do what they do well and fit easily into whatever system I’ve created. Tools such as Xcode or Visual Studio require me to work in a certain way and use certain tools. I need to know that I can integrate a new tool into my workflow; I can’t do that if my IDE is one monolithic package.


Who: Matt Roberts

What industry: Financial

Where: New York, New York

Flavor: Develops on Windows for Web/LAMP

Tool I love! Zend Studio 3.5. With its innovative server-side debugging tools and elegant project and source management features, Zend is the only product that fits the bill for serious PHP developers. Although configuration can be confusing and the product is not fully mature, it’s still light years ahead of competitors in the LAMP market.

Tool I hate! Microsoft Access. After years of attempting to triply straddle novice database developers, seasoned database admins, and workaday database application developers, Access should be put to pasture—or at least to stud. Take each of these user pools and make products that are suitable for them: Access is no panacea for all tiers of database design and administration need.


Who: Dan Griffin

What industry: Software security

Where: Seattle, Washington

Flavor: Develops on Windows for Windows

Tool I love! Visual SlickEdit. Its tag file feature has given me a competitive edge by allowing me to ramp up quickly on a large volume of legacy code. The less time I have to spend supporting the old stuff, the more time I can spend writing new stuff!

Tool I hate! Perl. Given a scripting task of reasonable complexity, I find that Perl is too hard to debug during development and too hard to maintain after it has been written. I cringe every time I have to read a Perl script.


Who: Jerry Heyman

What industry: Software development

Where: Raleigh, North Carolina

Flavor: Develops on Linux for Unix and Windows

Tool I love! Perl. Although some people may not consider Perl a real language, the fact that it has a built-in debugger and it’s cross-platform and interpreted makes banging out new code (or prototypes) very quick and easy.

Tool I hate! Make. While I don’t necessarily hate Make itself, the fact that so few can master it adds to my job load. As a resident expert, it has become a requirement that I help various developers debug their Makefile difficulties.


Originally published in Queue vol. 3, no. 2
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