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Tools you can't live without

by Mutant (Priest)
on Aug 09, 2005 at 15:20 UTC ( #482243=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

There are a few tools I use in development that - once I started using them - I've found I just can't live without them anymore. I'm often surprised when I encounter other developers that don't use them, or use very primitive versions.

Here are a few of them:
  • A good editor. I use kate, but it is of course, a matter of opinion. This has been discussed many times.
  • Version control. I use cvs. subversion is meant to be better. One day I'll get around to switching to it.
  • grep (or similar). How else are you supposed to easily find all the calls to a specific function across many files?
  • ERDs, DSDs, etc. (i.e. diagrams of your database) - I use the fairly lightweight (and proprietry) DDS. I really can't understand how people manage to keep the whole DB schema in their head.
  • Testing tools - only fairly recently becoming essential for me, and I *could* probably live without them at the moment. But I seem to be becoming more and more reliant on them.

What other tools can't you live without?

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Tools you can't live without
by adrianh (Chancellor) on Aug 09, 2005 at 15:30 UTC
    What other tools can't you live without?
    • index cards & pens
    • post it notes
    • a whiteboard
    • google

      I find a digital camera useful, in combination with the whiteboard.

      After I've gone and drawn something on my whiteboard, if it's not something that's actively under revision, I can snap a picture of it, and save it for later reference, and clear up the whiteboard for later reuse.

      I can also then send off copies to my other project members (most of whom work 2+ time zones away), and it's a hell of a lot cheaper than those computer-backed whiteboards that track everything, and easier to use.

      Of course, I could live without it -- I've been known to put diagrams in ASCII art in comment blocks, but I find the camera useful for getting quick concensus on design changes, with a distributed team. (and good realtime comunications -- IM has significantly reduced our development time, even with the time I had to spend getting permission to violate the policy and the hoops they made me jump through)

        I find a digital camera useful, in combination with the whiteboard.

        Oh yes. Me too.

        I use a nice little tool that lets me tidy up any perspective distortion and improve the contrast of any shots I take.

Re: Tools you can't live without
by cog (Parson) on Aug 09, 2005 at 15:31 UTC
    A good editor

    I wouldn't be able to live without Vim anymore.

    Version control

    I use cvs too. Having a version control system can save you from a *lot* of trouble.



    Testing tools

    Hail, Schwern. Hail, Andy. Hail, all you (decent) test tool creators and testing evangelizers.

    What other tools can't you live without?

    How about Perl? :-)

Re: Tools you can't live without
by Old_Gray_Bear (Bishop) on Aug 09, 2005 at 16:07 UTC
    On my list of 'things to be installed on the new box before I can use it productively' are:
    • Firefox
    • Thunderbird
    • Vim
    • Open Office
    • Perl (or ActiveState Perl on a Windows box)
    • PuTTY (on a Windows box)

    I try to get the same toolset (FF, TB, Vim, OO, Perl) on all the machines I use so I don't have to remember different command sets when I switch from the Windows laptop to the Linux desktop to the FreeBSD Servers and back in the course of twenty minutes.

    I Go Back to Sleep, Now.


Re: Tools you can't live without
by revdiablo (Prior) on Aug 09, 2005 at 16:36 UTC

    Yours and other posts sort of hint at it, but one thing I really can't live without is Unix. The whole environment is just really conducive to me performing useful work. So much so that I have chosen a programming language (*ahem*, Perl) that tries to bottle up all the Unix goodness it can, and I usually install a Unix-like environment on any Windows machine that I have to use for any period of time (Cygwin usually does me good).

Re: Tools you can't live without
by samizdat (Vicar) on Aug 09, 2005 at 15:29 UTC
    I have to explain things to non-programmers often. I need a good (vector) illustrator/diagrammer. Since I've installed Gnome here at work, I now have Sodipodi to play with. Good bye Corel Draw!!! Other than my eCAD programs, Doze is now nearing the end-of-life stage!!!
Re: Tools you can't live without
by derby (Abbot) on Aug 09, 2005 at 17:28 UTC

    What other tools can't you live without?

    duct tape and wd-40. If it moves and it shouldn't - duct tape. If it doesn't move and it should - wd-40

    What? Oh development tools ... sorry ...

Re: Tools you can't live without
by ghenry (Vicar) on Aug 09, 2005 at 20:01 UTC

    My 1GB usb pendrive that has on it:

    • Perl CD Bookshelfs 3.0 and 4.0
    • the whole of perldoc
    • all TPJ issues
    • all TPR issues
    • all perlcast episodes
    • the latest stable copy of Perl
    Walking the road to enlightenment... I found a penguin and a camel on the way.....
    Fancy a Just ask!!!
Re: Tools you can't live without
by jcoxen (Deacon) on Aug 09, 2005 at 16:31 UTC
    PerlMonks...I have solved more problems that I can count with searches here. And I have discovered code snippets that have saved me days of codeing time.


Re: Tools you can't live without
by xdg (Monsignor) on Aug 09, 2005 at 18:15 UTC

    For version control: SVK. See the SVK wiki, pictoral overview and the slide presentation. Written in Perl, built on top of subversion, and allows local mirroring of repositories. (E.g. mirror my subversion repository to a local depot on my laptop, disconnect from network, have full local version control on laptop, and push/merge upstream when I'm back online.) Also supports star merging, baseless merging, and other nifty features.

    I'm also very addicted to unixutils for native win32 ports of standard unix tools. Now I can "cd", "mv", "grep", "less", etc. from my win32 command shell without having to use Cygwin (not that there's anything wrong with it, but I just didn't want to go that route).


    Code written by xdg and posted on PerlMonks is public domain. It is provided as is with no warranties, express or implied, of any kind. Posted code may not have been tested. Use of posted code is at your own risk.

Re: Tools you can't live without
by perlmoth (Hermit) on Aug 09, 2005 at 16:12 UTC
    At work I swear by Beyond Compare. It is like diff on steroids. It is Windows only. If anyone knows a good Linux equivalent, I'd like to hear about it.

      hmmmm let met think... how about Perl, ftp, diff, vi, cvs, patch ??? Those seem to do what that thing does ?? Now all you have to do is write the code (Perl/Tk) to put them together! ;-)

      Go Fish!

      I use xxdiff on Linux and I'm very happy with it.
Re: Tools you can't live without
by b10m (Vicar) on Aug 09, 2005 at 20:58 UTC

    In random order:

    • ssh
    • mutt
    • mplayer
    • mpg123/xmms
    • Firefox and way too many of its extensions
    • sqlite
    • Vim
    • BASH
    • grep
    • find
    • Oh ... and Perl

    All code is usually tested, but rarely trusted.
Re: Tools you can't live without
by neniro (Priest) on Aug 09, 2005 at 17:17 UTC
    I really miss DbDesigner ( since I've switched to my Mac Mini, it is a tool worth mentioning here.

    My favorite Editors: Textmate ( and Vim.

    Data::Dumper is my favorite perl-module (I can't think of a structure if I can't see it dumped).

      Db Visualizer is a neat tool and works on Mac OS X, linux and windows (and perhaps some other, as it's java based):
Re: Tools you can't live without
by chester (Hermit) on Aug 09, 2005 at 17:50 UTC
    Vim with Perl support compiled in makes me happy. The perldo Vim command is nice so I don't have to keep switching back and forth between thinking in Vim-style regex syntax and thinking in Perl-style regex syntax. Especially when I'm writing Perl, it's sometimes hard to make that mental switch.

    So yeah, I'm a big fan of using Perl to help write code. Bang out a one-liner or two to spit out a bunch of HTML or rename a file full of variables or whatever. The only bad thing is resisting the urge to start copy/pasting code rather than re-factoring the code itself to make it shorter. Sometimes Vim + Perl makes it TOO easy to edit code.

Re: Tools you can't live without
by fauria (Deacon) on Aug 09, 2005 at 21:48 UTC
    Aside from version control tools such as cvs or svn, perl, and of course the standard GNU utils (coreutils and binutils), I would choose:

  • ssh: A must have. One feature i cant live without are tunnels.
  • vim: I need an editor and like this one. And no, i have never tried emacs.
  • screen: Incredibly useful when you need to deal with multiple terminals, but you dont want to switch between lots of windows, tabs or consoles.
  • zsh: Offers lots of useful features that other shells does not.
  • sed and awk: Yes, Perl does it, but usually i do it faster whith this.
Re: Tools you can't live without
by idsfa (Vicar) on Aug 09, 2005 at 16:37 UTC

    Super Search. This has been asked before.


    The intelligent reader will judge for himself. Without examining the facts fully and fairly, there is no way of knowing whether vox populi is really vox dei, or merely vox asinorum. -- Cyrus H. Gordon
      True, it has. But hey, it's been a year now ! It is completely possible that new good tools appeared in the last year, so it's still worth to refresh this information once in a while.

      P.S: Super Search is one of those great tools, no doubt.

Re: Tools you can't live without
by samizdat (Vicar) on Aug 09, 2005 at 18:35 UTC
    Further thoughts:
    • Intel++ (though iMAC G5 tempts!)
    • ten trees' worth of #2 pencils and yellow pads
    • 2 kilowatts of clean 110 VAC (coffeemaker and cooler, you know)
    • a Swiss Army knife that's too big for a pocket
    ... and, when all else fails:
    • percussive maintenance
Re: Tools you can't live without
by aukjan (Friar) on Aug 09, 2005 at 20:59 UTC
    The one tool which noone has mentioned yet... Caffeine! This has helped me many times to finish a project on time... Without it I would have never stayed awake long enough to meet the deadlines set!
    Go Fish!

Re: Tools you can't live without
by chanio (Priest) on Aug 10, 2005 at 02:35 UTC
Re: Tools you can't live without
by blahblahblah (Priest) on Aug 10, 2005 at 02:46 UTC
    I have a collection of aliases, shell scripts, and small perl scripts that are in my default path. They're simple, but they save me some work so I use them a lot. For example I have a command called "sl" that expands to
    ls -halt ... | less -E
    I do most of my work on a couple of unixes, all of which either share the same home dir or have copies of my scripts. When I occassionally have to work on a different server, I drive myself a little crazy because I keep typing these non-existent commands. So I guess that makes them tools that I can't live without :)

    update: I just put the sl script into the code catacombs here: expanded "ls".

Re: Tools you can't live without
by spiritway (Vicar) on Aug 10, 2005 at 02:39 UTC

    As one who is new to Perl, I have yet to figure out just what is a necessary tool. I'm finding out that I really don't need everything I've been using.

    I was using kdevelop, which is a handy way to keep stuff in projects. I found out by accident that all I really need is kate, which allows me to edit, and then pop down to use the terminal emulator for running the program. Sweet.

    Perl just doesn't need anything fancy. I don't need an IDE. Every day, Perl gives me some new surprise - making it much easier for me to get something written quickly. Kind of makes me feel like a kid at Christmas time.

Re: Tools you can't live without
by dorko (Prior) on Aug 09, 2005 at 21:49 UTC
    It's not a development tool, but I live in Florida and during the hurricanes last year, I learned I'd rather have running water than air conditioning.



    -- Yeah, I'm a Delt.
Re: Tools you can't live without
by Anonymous Monk on Aug 10, 2005 at 09:12 UTC
    A Unix (any Unix will be fine) box, a shell, a login account, a network connection, tar and an ftp or http client. That's all I need to bootstrap my preferred environment.

    Minimalist Monk

Re: Tools you can't live without
by themage (Friar) on Aug 10, 2005 at 14:02 UTC
    Like cog, I can't live without vim as text editor. There are basicly 2 things I do with visual interfaces:

    Browser: Galeon. Don't ask, I like it, and that's all.
    Email Client: KMail.

    Everuthing else I do at the prompt.

    The other Tools I can't live without are, mostly:
    • PIPEs
    • Vim for text editor
    • CVS (maybe soon I'ld look to subversion as everyone talks so good on it).
    • ssh
    • mysql (prompt client) - I not only keep almost all my data structs in my head as long as I am working in a project, but also create and change all my data structs in the prompt as needed.
    • some wiki. I use this to create and keep the documentation for my (clients) projects. I'm currently using MaBliki, that is a blog wiki engine, I wrote in HTML::Mason.

    Things I miss right now:
    • Bug control: I did looked to bugzilla, and I didn't like what I saw, but didn't found nothing better. Anyone have a simple and good one?

Re: Tools you can't live without
by dws (Chancellor) on Aug 10, 2005 at 18:54 UTC

    In addition to several of the things mentioned above, I depend on

    • Several square feet of desk-level surface space that is under my complete control (that is, nobody else is allowed to shuffle stuff around or drop new stuff on it)
    • A comfortable chair with good lumbar support
    • A low noise environment, or the ability to shut off interruptions

      A low noise environment, or the ability to shut off interruptions

      One of the first things I try and learn when I enter a new office environment is how to stop the phone ringing :-)

Re: Tools you can't live without
by zshzn (Hermit) on Aug 10, 2005 at 19:18 UTC
    Quite the awesome list of tools above!

    Myself, I probably couldn't live without the following:

    Linux and so much that comes with it
    My extensive collection of informative bookmarks (and Opera to browse them)
    My cd player to channel the heavenly music of Pink Floyd to my ears
    My notebook and pens
    Probably so much more that doesn't come to mind quickly.

Re: Tools you can't live without
by davis (Vicar) on Aug 11, 2005 at 11:26 UTC
    It's as much about environment (meatspace) as environment (computer).
    • A. Decent. Keyboard.
    • A decent mouse
    • My Leatherman
    • Music (with volume and track control — nothing worse than poor, poor jazz interrupting your flow)
    • Tea, because we don't have anywhere decent coffee
    • vim
    • screen
    • (Physical) desk space
    • CVS
    • Firefox, and lots of extensions...
    • Dead-tree reference material
    • Enough water

    Kids, you tried your hardest, and you failed miserably. The lesson is: Never try.
Re: Tools you can't live without
by inman (Curate) on Aug 10, 2005 at 07:45 UTC
    There are people who couldn't live without:
    • An iron lung
    • A dialysis machine
    • A pacemaker
Re: Tools you can't live without
by Anonymous Monk on Oct 08, 2007 at 07:50 UTC

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