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Free (Or Nearly So) Programmer's toolkits?


I recently had the thought "If I was going to consult (run my own company) what would I buy or use?"

This is what I came up with:

Text Editor: TextPad ($50) or Pine (Free)
Programming Lang: Perl (Free), PHP (Free), C++ (Gnu - Free), or Visual Basic (Cheap)
Database: MySql (Free), or Access (Cheap)
Source Code Control: CVS or WinCVS (Free)
Bug Tracking: BugZilla (Free) or FogBugZ (Reasonably Inexpensive)
Web Hosting: Some cheapy $15/month deal where you get a domain and can FTP stuff.  They must have mySQL, apache, mod_perl

Other Stuff: WinZip

Other thoughts?

Matt H.
Thursday, November 07, 2002

My software hall of fame :-)

http://perso.club-internet.fr/ffaure/swhalloffame.html

Fred.

Frederic Faure
Thursday, November 07, 2002


I will definately add open office to the list.  There's a catch!

Matt H.
Thursday, November 07, 2002

Hmmm, here are some more that might be helpful:

Finances:  MS Money, GNU cash
Environment:  cygwin toolkit (if you're on a Windows box)
Languages:  There are many free ones.  Depends on your project... Ruby, Tcl/Tk, Java
Database:  postgresql
Text Editor:  vim, emacs, Visual Slickedit
Content Management:  CityDesk, Zope
Application Server:  JBoss

Ron E.
Thursday, November 07, 2002

Matt,

what's the diff between cheap & reasonably inexpensive?

Prakash S
Thursday, November 07, 2002


FogBugZ is free to evaluate, $90 for a single-user license, and $900 for a multi-user license.

That's 10X the price of anything else I listed ... so I wouldn't call it "cheap."

However, it does promise a "bang" roughly the same as some CASE tools and Rational Products that cost THOUSANDS per seat.

Since I haven't personally evaluated it, I'll just call it "reasonably inexpensive." :-)

Matt H.
Thursday, November 07, 2002

For one user FogBuz is actually less than half the price of Access which you call cheap.

Now if you're thinking of using Access to develop for MSDE, SQL Server, or MySQL, then I reckon it comes out pretty cheap when you think of the time it saves you, but in cash terms cheap it ain't.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, November 07, 2002


My take ( which pretty shows what I am coding in these days...)

Text Editor: EditPlus ($30) or Eclipse (free)
Programming Lang: Java (Free), Perl (Free), C++ (Free),
Web Server:  Apache and Tomcat
Database: Personal Oracle ($400 a head) and it is pretty much fully featured.
Database Access: JDBExplorer(?) ( free)
                            TOAD ( cheap, but only for Oracle),
OS: Linux or FreeBSD.
Misc:  CygWin, MSOffice ( still don't like StarOffice et al ), Visio,


Other Stuff:
much of the free stuff produced by GNU, Apache/Jakarta and IBM is good. Some of this things are under-implemented or over engineered but there are some real gems hidden in these guys offerings.

JB
Thursday, November 07, 2002

www.freshmeat.net

The amount of quality open source stuff there is staggering.

Granted, most of it is hosted on sourceforge

Having used both eclipse and IDEA, I'd pay for idea (actually, I did)

Adam
Thursday, November 07, 2002

<snip>
I recently had the thought "If I was going to consult (run my own company) what would I buy or use?"
</snip>

The best tools money can buy.

Starting a company on a shoe string budget is a bad, bad idea.

been there, done that
Thursday, November 07, 2002

Been there,

This is the crux of the matter.  The nearly free products are as good- and sometimes better- than the very expensive alternatives.

Personally, if I was developing for a number of customers and providing small executable I would definately use Delphi. 

The executables are so much easier to deploy into a new environment.  None of that runtime hassle.

Ged Byrne
Friday, November 08, 2002

Basic kit:

MSDN Universal
VMWare
XMLSpy

All of these cost some money but compared to what should be the turnover of a viable single person consultancy, these cost are most certainly not prohibitive.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, November 08, 2002

> Other Stuff: WinZip

Get Ultimate Zip instead which is free. One less expense!

Derek
Friday, November 08, 2002

>The best tools money can buy.
>
>Starting a company on a shoe string budget
>is a bad, bad idea.


Well, uh ... no.

I'm assuming you read PeopleWare and JoS, and know all about the performance benefits of buying the sharpest tools.

I'm talking about a one-person consulting firm - and - in that environment - the performance benefit is from knowing that $0.75 out of every dollar goes back into -your own- pocket.

If there is a commercial tool that has the right bang for the buck, then it will make my list.  Access for one person (Remember:  Jet is _free_ for the end user!) is definately on that list, FogBugZ might be.

If the consultant can pass the cost of the materials on to the customer, then I might add ASPN.

I'm going to make another post about the tools that I think are missing, but the list so far is getting pretty good.  (Two more good ones:  AIM for instant messaging and Snagit for screen captures & AVIs.)


regards,

Matt H.
Friday, November 08, 2002

Gee, Oracle at $400 sounds cheap.

The developer version of ms-access is $800 US...

You get a ton of stuff..but it ms-access is not cheap

For the *long* feature list, check out:

    http://www.microsoft.com/office/developer/suite/fastfacts.asp

Albert D. Kallal
Friday, November 08, 2002

Programming Lang: Get Delphi 7 Personal - free download or $99 on CD with manuals. Excellent stuff, lot better than VeryBasic!

Marc Scheuner
Friday, November 08, 2002

Marc,

Unfortunately Delphi Personal cannot be used for commercial use.  You have to pay for it if you want to use it for commercial purposes.

Worth every penny, though.

Ged Byrne
Friday, November 08, 2002

Languages: You are pretty sorted here. There are a lot of good languages available for free (or even Free). GCC (The GNU compiler collection) includes C, C++, Ada, Fortran and Java. Perl and Ruby are also well handled in a cross platform manner.

Development tools. Under *NIX you are pretty much sorted for small sharp tools (grep etc). The Cygwin platform for Windows duplicates that functionality.

Editors. Flame wars abound. Personally I like Nedit under *NIX and Scite under Windows (bundled with Ruby).

IDE's. Can be very useful, a pain in the arse and all points in between.  No real prefernces here. I do use KDevelop, in some ways it rocks, but in others it is prehistoric compared to Visual Studio.

DB's. MySQl and Postgres do the business in many cases. But like languages, you pick you're horse for the course.

Best regards,
Steve

stephen hill
Friday, November 08, 2002

python
zodb
zope
mozilla
komodo($29 personal)

that's all I'm using

Dan Sickles
Friday, November 08, 2002

<snip>
Well, uh ... no.

I'm assuming you read PeopleWare and JoS, and know all about the performance benefits of buying the sharpest tools.

I'm talking about a one-person consulting firm - and - in that environment - the performance benefit is from knowing that $0.75 out of every dollar goes back into -your own- pocket.
</snip>

Matt, a few things:

1.  I AM a one-person consulting firm, sucessfully running for three years now.

2.  I started out much the same way you are describing now.  Its not a good plan.

3.  After your first year, expect your expenses to be much less than 25%.

I get the impression that you are targeting small clients.  Some of what you are suggesting may work.  However, if you decide to go after somewhat larger clients, you can be rest assured thier corporate policy doesn't include mySQL.

--------------------------------

Just me, suggested the following tools:

<snip>
Basic kit:

MSDN Universal
VMWare
XMLSpy
</snip>

He's bang on with these suggestions.  I have all three, and have almost no need for anything else.

been there, done that
Friday, November 08, 2002

Since the benefits go into your pocket, you should be more careful about hamstringing yourself than ever. Don't skimp and try and scrape by with whatever you can get on a shoestring.

Use the best tools money can buy.

Mr Jack
Friday, November 08, 2002

I agree with those who have said to get the best tools money can buy.  In most cases those tools will help you produce (1) more polished results or (2) quicker results, and in many cases both. 

It's a little bit like Microsoft's Total Cost of Ownership against Linux/Open Source.  MSFT essentially argues that even though MSWindows costs more than Linux, the extra labor costs involved with Linux outweigh the difference in licensing costs.

MSFT's argument that MSWindows is preferable to Linux based on TCO is pretty weak, in my opinion. 

But similar arguments are valid in many cases when justifying purchase of "best of breed" tools.  If a tool costs $1000 but saves me 20 hours of work and helps me produce a better product to boot, then it's a no brainer to purchase it. 

I think the only times when purchase of the best tools isn't a no brainer is when as a consultant I either (1) don't have enough jobs/clients to fill my time so I may as well bill some extra hours handcoding a solution -- but this costs the client more , or (2) have clients who are happy with less polished solutions -- but the client ends up with inferior solution. 

Also, possibly spending extra to purchase tools that help you do more in less time may not be cost-effective if you can't charge premium rates to clients.  But you should be able to charge premium rates when you're producing superior products in less time than other developers -- you've just got to communicate that to your clients.  Even if you charge a higher hourly rate than other developers, clients are still going to be getting a better deal than someone who charges a lower hourly rate but uses lower quality tools (assuming you and other competing developers are equally talented and your tools really are "best of breed").

I know it doesn't work out in all cases.  But in many it does.  Buying the best pays off.

Herbert Sitz
Friday, November 08, 2002

<snip>
Basic kit:

MSDN Universal
VMWare
XMLSpy
</snip>


I've never used VMWare.  Does it simulate how an application runs under different operating systems, or do you need to actually (buy and) install each operating system? I assume the latter, and if so, what operating systems would you add to the list?

Nick Hebb
Friday, November 08, 2002

VMWare Info:

http://www.vmware.com/pdf/ws_specs.pdf

been there, done that
Friday, November 08, 2002

Thanks for the link.

I attended a software presentation last year where the presenter said that there validation testing included 'simulating' the application's performance in various OS's using VMWare. I spefically remember him phrasing it that way, which made me think that VMWare simulated other OS's.

Nick Hebb
Friday, November 08, 2002

I tend to go with anything free for development purposes but did buy Visual SlickEdit for productivity gains.

Tom Vu
Friday, November 08, 2002

Don't you just use pirated stuff, like everybody else?

Alberto
Friday, November 08, 2002

Nick,

One of the other items listed was MSDN, this gives you all of the Microsoft OSs. Personally, I have every one of them installed here.


My Question:
I don't have XMLspy. I've never used it. What would I use it for? I know its an "XML developer", but what the heck does that mean? If I'm developing a VB.NET/SQL Server application, where would this help me?

My Tools:
I use MSDN and VMWare every day and can't live without them. Visual Studio is the best IDE I've ever used (and I've used a number of them).

One thing I didn't do was buy the Universal (I went with pro). To get the other items I needed (Office, SQL, Project, etc) I picked up the "Microsoft Action Pack" for $250. It had all of them (as well as some other items). You can get the action pack from Microsoft at: http://www.microsoftactionpack.com/

Marc
Saturday, November 09, 2002

If you use C/C++ and can afford it, get Purify or Bounds Checker. They aren't cheap, but they can save you a world of agony with stupid bugs and leaks.

If you are developing for Linux, grab valgrind which is almost as good in what it can do, and runs significantly faster. Alas, it doesn't do Windows and I suspect it won't in any reasonable way for a long time to come.

Ori Berger
Saturday, November 09, 2002

Personally I like the following (if I didn't have access to MSDN Universal ;-)):

.NET Framework SDK
SharpDevelop (www.icsharpcode.net) - .NET IDE - really good if you don't have VS.NET
Firebird DBMS (free/open-source/non-GPL version of Borland Interbase) (firebird.sourceforge.net)

Giorgio Galante
Saturday, November 09, 2002

TORA is a good, free TOAD clone that runs under Windows and Unix/Linux systems.  The UI is a bit slower than TOAD's, but it works with MySQL and PostgreSQL as well as Oracle.

PostgreSQL is infintely superior to MySQL for DB work.

OpenOffice removes the need to drop a small fortune on MS Office for most tasks (document exchange with clients).

I'll agree with those posters who think that if you intend making a living from this you ought to be prepared to buy tools if you make money from them - if you develop in Windows world, you'd be an idiot not to pick up MSDN.  If you can get an extra $20/hour for using a proprietary J2EE app server instead of the excellent JBoss, you'd be sensible to consider it. 

If you're selecting tools based on their philosophy, then obviously the money is secondary.  If you're saving on costs at the expense of losing revenue, well, that's dumb.

Rodger Donaldson
Sunday, November 10, 2002

Go to http://www.justcd.cjb.net.

There you can mail order your tools for Rp. 10.000 per CD (about US$ 1.10). So like for VS.NET Enterprise you will have to shell Rp. 50.000 (US$ 5.50).

Add to that the shipping costs, which won't be too much.

You can have all tools you want for less than 50 bucks.

zhu rongji
Tuesday, November 12, 2002

> Go to Pirate site and get everything for < $5.00

You could also walk over to someone else's computer and steal the CDs, total cost = $0.00 (net access and gasoline not included).

mb
Tuesday, November 12, 2002

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