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What’s on Your Hard Drive?

Welcome once again to WOYHD, Queue’s monthly forum dedicated to developer tools. We know that many readers enjoy reading about the tools people hate, as contributors regularly express frustrations shared by many developers (perhaps even leading to exclamations of “ain’t that the truth!”). But you would be very wise to pay attention as well to the tools people love. There you’ll often find people raving about some of the smaller or lesser-known developer tools—tools that could be just the thing to make your latest project easier. Have you discovered a cool tool recently? Let us know at

Who: John Cabrer
What industry: Automotive
Job title: Systems integrator
Flavor: Develops on Windows for Windows
Tool I love! LabVIEW. LabVIEW plays well into how my brain thinks about problems. When I’m developing a LabVIEW application, it feels like the environment is an extension of my hands. If there is a better tool out there for rapid application development, I’m not aware of it.
Tool I hate! WebSphere. Everything changes from one release to the next. It’s all very nonintuitive. Most people would consider my desktop machine high performance. WebSphere turns it into a slow paperweight.

Who: Simon Collis
What industry: Government/Military/Aerospace
Job title: E-government analyst/Team leader
Flavor: Develops on Windows for Windows
Tool I love! Access. I wouldn’t be able to do my job without Access, from system admin tasks to pulling data out of two or three databases. Once you know your way around it, the mind boggles at what you can make it do.
Tool I hate! Access. That said, the VBA (Visual Basic for Access) editor is horrible; it’s far too easy to lock yourself out of your own database; “repair database” just makes problems worse; and Access workgroup security and Citrix just don’t mix!

Who: Fred Youhanaie
What industry: Consulting and systems integrator
Job title: System developer/administrator
Flavor: Develops on Solaris, Linux for Solaris, Linux
Tool I love! SourceNav. Over the past two years I have found SourceNav to be one of the best tools for investigating open source packages in detail. Its hyperlink and xref facility allows me to navigate a 600,000-line package with minimal effort.
Tool I hate! Eclipse. There are many tools that I try to avoid. At present my least favorite is Eclipse. It is slow, bulky, and not as intuitive as some of the other tools I have worked with. Perhaps if I were to use it more often, I might start liking it. I’ll see if I can find the patience!

Who: Drew Vogel
What industry: Social science
Job title: Programmer
Flavor: Develops on Linux for Linux, Web
Tool I love! Vim. Once I read Vim author Bram Moolenaar’s “Seven habits of effective text editing,” I reclaimed 20 percent of my day. Refactoring code no longer makes my wrists sore, and I make fewer syntax errors, thanks to the command-mode functions.
Tool I hate! autoconf/automake. Most of what it does seems like a permanent solution for what should be a temporary problem. Furthermore, it doesn’t even try to globally cache the most common checks. When I build 10 packages and each invokes a configure script, the check for, say, sys/time.h is performed 10 times and cached in a separate location each time.


Originally published in Queue vol. 4, no. 2
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