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What’s on Your Hard Drive?

Do you ever feel as though the software you are using is glaringly inadequate? Do you sometimes find yourself screaming incoherently at your monitor? Lucky for you there’s WOYHD, Queue’s monthly forum dedicated to providing a space where frustrated programmers can express their irritation. Not all tools are evil, though; so if after venting your anger you happen to remember one that actually makes your life easier, feel free to tell us about it as well at Not only will you finally have a chance to discuss your favorite and least favorite tools, you could also win an oh-so-stylish Queue coffee mug.

Who: Bennett Smith
What industry: Government/Military/Aerospace
Job title: Software tools group leader
Flavor: Develops on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
Tool I love! Trolltech Qt C++ GUI framework, Boost template libraries. Qt is an excellent cross-platform GUI framework. Using it for GUI development makes me a happy programmer. The UI for multi-platform apps is a snap to build with Qt. Migration of existing MFC (Microsoft Foundation Classes) applications to Qt is not very difficult and extends the reach of our applications to more users. Couple this with the open source Boost C++ template libraries and it feels like I can build anything with C++. Who needs Java or C# now!
Tool I hate! InstallShield. I absolutely hate building installers with InstallShield. Each
time a change is required, it takes a bunch of hunting through a nonintuitive GUI to find where I think the change should be made. Automating build and packaging tasks is very difficult using the scripting interface. Some things are just not possible through scripting. When we get close to the ship date I know I’m going to have some bad days with InstallShield.

Who: Karsten Gresch
What industry: Banking/Insurance/Finance/Accounting
Job title: Java EE developer/systems analyst
Flavor: Develops on Windows, Linux for Windows, Linux, Solaris
Tool I love! Subversion. It is one of the most flexible, usable, and stable version control systems I know of. You can extend it with tools such as Trac/Collaboa/Trackit/Scmbug or Codestriker, or use Subclipse and the BugTraq-keyword support and you are very close to an integrated change management solution that makes your manager happy. Add some hook scripts—and you’re done!
Tool I hate! ClearCase. It is one of the most expensive, unintuitive, and unmaintainable tools I’ve experienced.
Speaking about solutions for developers based on it always means speaking about cheats and tricks and workarounds. To some extent you can work with it on the command line, but you’re able neither to look at the source
code nor easily work with it in a global distributed environment. The MultiSite setup is a nightmare.

Who: Tom Sauder
What industry: Technology vendor (software, hardware, etc.)
Job title: Senior embedded software engineer
Flavor: Develops on Windows for homebrew RTOS (realtime operating system)
Tool I love! EZ-DSP prototyping board. It provides me with the flexibility to work directly with the I/O of the DSP (digital signal processing) board and to see the behavior of the DSP board in realtime. It also allows me to work out algorithms and test them on the actual hardware prior to when the electrical and mechanical hardware is complete.
Tool I hate! Visual SourceSafe. In the past I have used other CM (content management) tools that have provided much more useful functionality than VSS. This is frustrating, knowing that there are much better tools on the market.

Who: Sila Kissuu
What industry: Consulting and systems integrator
Job title: Architect
Flavor: Develops on Windows, Linux for any operating system
Tool I love! WebSphere Integration Developer. The command and control aspect of the tool allows me to switch between development modes (e.g., J2EE, BPEL, SCA, process modeling) and switch workspaces painlessly, not to mention the highly configurable test environment facilities.
Tool I hate! PVCS, a sobering reminder that rearranging letters does not bring you closer to CVS. To me, this tool is unnecessarily difficult to configure and use and very intrusively integrated to one’s development machine. I would rather use 3.5-inch floppies and a crystal ball for a source versioning and management system.


Originally published in Queue vol. 4, no. 4
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