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What’s on Your Hard Drive?

Over the past couple of years we’ve sorted through thousands of your submissions and developed a keen sense of which tools our readers love and loathe most. What’s interesting is that our data says nothing about the overall popularity of any one product: some of the most-lauded products are used by very few developers, while some of the most-loathed tools are ubiquitous. You can add to our tally at

Who: Daniel Pezely
What industry: Consulting and systems integrator
Job title: Programmer
Flavor: Develops on Mac OSX for Mac OSX, FreeBSD, Linux, Windows
Tool I love! Emacs + SLIME (Superior Lisp Interaction Mode for Emacs) + SBCL (Steel Bank Common Lisp). One programming language family to customize the editor and to develop software really keeps your head in code-mode when you need it. It’s wonderful having tools disappear into your subconscious, so all you need to think about is the task at hand. No mouse to break your focus helps too!
Tool I hate! Visual Studio. If you’re doing the mundane 80 percent, it’s probably fine. Likewise if it fits nicely with what it was built to handle. But step outside the proverbial box, and it’s a nightmare! Tools should bend to the human—not the other way around (hence a new generation adopting Lisp today).

Who: Anonymous
What industry: Technology vendor (software, hardware, etc.)
Job title: Analyst
Flavor: Develops on Windows, Linux, xBSD for xBSD, Linux, Windows
Tool I love! TCC (Tiny C Compiler; With a special bootloader, TCC can boot a Linux kernel from source in 15 seconds. Small and swift doesn’t even begin to describe it. Think old-school Turbo Pascal and Turbo C all over again, but even smaller and swifter. It does Windows, too: a complete native-code Win32 development environment in just 750 KB in 2006. Nice!
Tool I hate! Eclipse. Bigger is better? Try telling William of Occam, if you can get him to stop spinning in his grave long enough. Make JavaScript, or AJAX, or Web 2.0, or any of this “collective intelligence” drool, an equal worst along with Eclipse.

Who: Fernando Berzal
What industry: Education
Job title: Assistant professor
Flavor: Develops on Windows for Windows, Linux
Tool I love! Eclipse. It provides all I need from an integrated development environment. In case I need something else, I just look for the right plug-in to do the job (and it integrates nicely with the rest of the tools in Eclipse).
Tool I hate! vi/Emacs. Like it or not, the days when you could impress people by typing cryptic macros and key combinations are finally gone (for most of us). These skills might still be useful for some situations, but not for your whole working day.

Who: Nick Johnson
What industry: Consulting and systems integrator
Job title: Coder
Flavor: Develops on GNU/Linux for GNU/Linux, .NET/Win32, Web Browser (as a platform)
Tool I love! flex+bison or lex+yacc, because everything needs an interface, and LALR (look-ahead left to right) languages make great ones. I also love vim, cvs, gdb, gcc, mcs, make, and many others. Libraries such as libpng, gtk2 and pygtk, and SDL are also great!
Tool I hate! JavaScript and the Web browser as a platform. There is no standard definition of the platform, and there is no good debugger. You really do need to port your application to each browser and each version of each browser. I hope that the W3C standards become widely adopted in the future.


Originally published in Queue vol. 5, no. 1
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