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What’s on Your Hard Drive?

Echoing a recent editor’s note, it’s fun to imagine a future where software development is abstracted to the point where we just say, “Hey, Deep Thought, build me this call-center application. Marvin, here, will get you the specs,” and voila, the software is designed, developed, tested, and deployed. Until then, however, we’re stuck using these darn development tools. Being of human derivation (and therefore imperfect), they are perfect targets for our frustration—and praise (when they play nicely). So head to and voice your opinions. If we print your submission we’ll send you a stylish, yet highly functional Queue coffee mug.

Who: Bill Hannahs
What industry: Genetics
Job title: Application development specialist
Flavor: Develops on Windows for Windows/J2ME

Tool I love! WebSphere Studio Device Developer. Having spent most of my career shunning IDEs as too bulky and glitchy compared with plain text editors, I was pleased to switch to WSDD when I began developing J2ME apps. Using WSDD truly speeds up development and reduces the time it takes to track down bugs.

Tool I hate! MS Access with VBA. Before PostgreSQL, MySQL, etc., Access was about the only cheap database, and it was easy to make nice GUI interfaces with ODBC and Java. I am sure Access is a great program for nondevelopers, but I would rather chew my leg off than deal with all the GUI-clicking.

Who: Akos Polster
What industry: Telecom
Job title: Senior software designer
Flavor: Develops on Linux/Windows for Custom

Tool I love! KDevelop. An extremely flexible environment with a good editor, nice project management features, and tons of useful plug-ins. KDevelop’s primary target is KDE application development, but its flexibility allows me to tailor it to our needs in embedded software development.

Tool I hate! Synergy/CM. An interesting concept in version control with a horrible GUI implementation breaking all usability rules. It has strange window layouts, half-baked widgets, and focus-stealing pop-ups. It has no integration with IDEs or build tools.

Who: Rich Koshak
What industry: Government/Military/Aerospace
Job Title: Senior software engineer
Flavor: Develops on Solaris, Windows, Linux for Solaris/Windows/Linux

Tool I love! JBuilder. It has its flaws, but JBuilder’s user interface is relatively uncluttered compared with other Java IDEs. Though not unique, its Code Insight feature alone makes me a much more productive programmer by syntax checking as I type; I know the code will compile when I’m done typing.

Tool I hate! Generic text editors will do in a pinch, but they are not suitable full-time development environments. Even using Emacs and Vim is painful. I find myself doing by hand things that should be automated such as importing classes, generating build scripts, and creating beans.

Who: Peter Gephardt
What industry: Education
Job title: Instructional designer
Flavor: Develops on Linux for Unix/Windows

Tool I love! Perl. Cross-platform availability, ease of use, performance and reliability, free availability, and powerful regexp (regular expressions) make Perl my one workhorse for everything from test automation to page generation and problem solving.

Tool I hate! Emacs. Unintuitive interface detracts from its powerful capability. I wish as much effort would be spent on the interface and design as clearly went into adding features willy-nilly. A much less feature-rich product with a good interface would be considerably more useful—and popular.


Originally published in Queue vol. 3, no. 5
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