Download PDF version of this article PDF

What’s on Your Hard Drive?

One of the most interesting things about WOYHD is seeing how often certain tools appear under either the “love” or “hate” categories. In fact, over the past year we’ve developed a keen sense of which tools our readers love most and which they loathe most. It’s not that our data says anything about the overall popularity of any one product. A product that receives a large number of “hates” actually could be the most popular tool on the market. We invite you to add to the love and hate tallies at

Who: David O’Hara
What industry: Technology vendor
Job title: Internet applications developer
Flavor: Develops on Windows for Windows
Tool I love! Snippet Compiler. It allows me to validate assumptions and ideas I have relating to .NET code (namely C#) without opening Visual Studio and creating a whole new “test” project. It’s clean, quick, and easy to use, though it does lack some IntelliSense.
Tool I hate! Visio. It’s a kludge. Documentation produced with Visio, while useful at the outset, quickly becomes outdated without rigorous efforts to maintain it since code is usually quite fluid. And please don’t even try to have it generate any code for you—it’s awful!

Who: George Jempty
What industry: ISP/telecommunications, energy, cable, utilities
Job title: Web developer
Flavor: Develops on Windows for Linux
Tool I love! Eclipse. It’s not just for Java anymore. There is a choice of plug-ins for PHP: TruStudio and PHPEclipse. It informs me of errors right in the IDE without having to refresh the Web page, and the debugging capability goes without saying.
Tool I hate! Vi. I’m surrounded by dinosaurs. And not unlike monkeys, typewriters, and Shakespeare, if you gave a million dinosaurs a million Vi editors, one of them might randomly develop the killer app.

Who: Josh Pepper
What industry: Manufacturing (noncomputer)
Job title: Software engineer
Flavor: Develops on Windows for Windows
Tool I love! Dependency Walker 2.0. The ability to detect dynamic dependencies with application profiling is invaluable.
I deal with third-party libraries constantly and I can watch each GetProcAddress and DllMain call. I can tell which function is being called underneath the hood, and this information often sends me down the path to righteousness.
Tool I hate! The power button. When you’re writing code to control hardware, it’s very easy to get yourself into a irrecoverable state. Sometimes it’s
your fault and sometimes you’re dealing with poorly written drivers, but quite often there is only one way out: a very inelegant power cycle.

Who: Jonathan Donald
What industry: Financial
Job title: Programmer
Flavor: Develops on Linux for Windows
Tool I love! Emacs, unbeatable in simplicity, adaptability, extensibility. Name a language, and there is at least one editing mode for it, including syntax coloring. It’s relatively small, runs on any desktop operating system, and is mature and stable. It’s easy to configure, offers extremely fine-grained customization options, and can be extended using the powerful Emacs Lisp language. The cost? $0, plus time to learn.
Tool I hate! VisualAge for Java. It has a clunky interface, a code repository that easily becomes corrupted and is difficult to recover. In the two years I worked with it, VAJ lost several weeks worth of work. Fortunately, there’s now Eclipse/WSAD (WebSphere Studio Application Developer). No one should be forced to use VAJ anymore.


Originally published in Queue vol. 3, no. 8
see this item in the ACM Digital Library


© ACM, Inc. All Rights Reserved.