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What’s on Your Hard Drive?

Working with the same specific programs on a daily basis, developers often form intimate relationships with them. In fact, it’s not rare to find programmers speaking of their tools in human terms, attributing bad habits to them and complaining about their mercurial behavior. Are you tired of your temperamental tools? Check out this month’s WOYHD to find the ideal programs with which to spend the rest of your days of developing. And feel free to stop by to share your love and hate relationships.

Who: Gregory Bloom
What industry: ISP/telecommunications, energy, cable, utilities
Job title: Lead analyst
Flavor: Develops on Windows (Cygwin) for Fedora, Solaris
Tool I love! Cygwin. It brings a breath of Unix sanity into the cumbersome world of Windows development. All of my favorite Unix tools are here, including the editor, vi, whose keystroke commands appear burned into ROMs in my fingertip (I know, I know, Emacs is better, but these ROMs... I can’t erase them).
Tool I hate! Oracle. Her royal majesty, Queen Oracle (I’ve concluded she has to be queen), is mercurial, given to complex whims, and can often be maddeningly demanding. “What do you mean you refuse to do another thing until your redo logs are archived?!?!”

Who: Donna Dulo
What industry: Government/military/aerospace
Job title: Computer scientist
Flavor: Develops on Windows for Windows
Tool I love! PrimalScript. It’s easy to use and straightforward, without a lot of unnecessary features hogging the screen. It also supports development in many languages and scripts, compiles easily, and requires little overhead knowledge other than your target language.
Tool I hate! PowerBuilder. There are no resources available, and it is very difficult to learn and teach. Not many developers use it these days, so there’s not much information available about it online. Its DataWindow concept is efficient but very temperamental.

Who: Ted Tenny
What industry: Nonprofit/religious
Job title: Author, Web page developer
Flavor: Develops on Macintosh for Web
Tool I love! BBEdit. The HTML syntax checker keeps me on the straight and narrow, and Preview in BBEdit lets me instantly see changes, saving me lots of time in fine-tuning the HTML code.
Tool I hate! TextEdit. It has a nasty habit of giving me nonstandard carriage returns, which confuse even Microsoft Word when I copy paragraphs into Word from the text file. I have to go back and clean up the text file with BBEdit.

Who: Kevin O’Shea
What industry: Technology vendor (software, hardware, etc.)
Job title: Software developer
Flavor: Develops on Windows for Windows
Tool I love! WinKey. The program gives me quick access to opening all my other favorite development tools. It allows me to define short-cut keys to opening applications or running commands.
Tool I hate! Outlook. I find the menu structure and options menus very difficult to navigate. The options are not grouped well, and each new version of Outlook moves things around just a little so it’s hard to find common items.


Originally published in Queue vol. 4, no. 9
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