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What’s on Your Hard Drive?

Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, dev tools play an integral role in a programmer’s existence. They were (hopefully!) designed to make your job easier, although all too often the exact opposite seems to be the case. Is there a tool so exceptionally brilliant that you just can’t live without it? Have you encountered one so thoroughly bizarre and inept that it absolutely boggles your mind? If so, please tell us about it at We would love to share your opinions with the rest of our readers!

Who: Tim Ebringer
What industry: Technology vendor (software, hardware, etc.)
Job title: Research staff member
Flavor: Develops on Windows for Windows
Tool I love! IDA Pro. Ever wondered what’s going on inside that mystery binary? Decided to take a peek and got lost in a strange and unnatural asm file? This product is a disassembler that contains so much black magic, it can blast a dazzling ray of illumination through the darkest of binaries. It is indescribably brilliant.
Tool I hate! C++. Bizarre and unfathomable linker errors. Growing a beard while waiting for a recompile. Optimizers that optimize out correctness. Macros (or is that templates?). Flexible interpretation of the S in STL (standard template library). All in all, it is the mistake made on the way to Java.

Who: Benny Butler
What industry: Banking/Insurance/Finance/Accounting
Job title: IT manager
Flavor: Develops on Windows for Linux
Tool I love! Dreamweaver. In my searches, Dreamweaver has the best balance between being a text-based IDE and a WYSIWYG editor. It is also very customizable with extensions to handle mundane and repetitive tasks such as SQL queries or simple JavaScripts. Honorable mention to Interakt, SQLyog, and Putty. These programs are always open on my machine.
Tool I hate! Dreamweaver. Yeah, unfortunately, Dreamweaver uses JavaScript for its extension language, which makes it very slow. Add to that the fact that it’s buggy.

Who: Rich Wilson
What industry: Education
Job title: Web developer
Flavor: Develops on Windows for Web
Tool I love! Perl. It just happens to be the scripting language I know best, and every developer should use a scripting tool. Any time I spend more than five minutes doing something more than once, I could probably save time in the long run writing a script.
Tool I hate! Visual Studio. It has really dumb auto-formatting of HTML. I would love to let VS do it
for me, but allow me to define the formatting. I would also love a vi mode. It would be great to switch into a modal mode and leave the mouse alone, but still make use of VS’s IntelliSense.

Who: Jeff Daniels
What industry: Government/Military/Aerospace
Job title: Chief systems engineer
Flavor: Develops on Windows for Windows, Solaris
Tool I love! Rational Studio. I can develop Java applications and Web services very quickly. Testing applications can be done within the tool as a desktop-simulated test environment. Based on the Eclipse toolset, this is a powerful development program.
Tool I hate! FrontPage. An easy-to-use interface comes at a cost, and unnecessary code written by the application increases complexity when troubleshooting. Proprietary extensions may be incompatible on a non-Windows platform. Past security
issues could raise concerns, too.


Originally published in Queue vol. 4, no. 5
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