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Most satisifying software you've used?

A good deal of the conversation here discusses bad software, bad specifications, bad project managers, and bad co-workers.  There is certainly no shortage of "bad" around, especially lately.

I am curious what software you've used over the years that struck you as satisfying - done right - worked well - made you say "I wish I had written that".

Utilities, compilers, whole operating systems, end-user applications, anything is game.  Share with us what it was and why you liked it so much.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Thursday, May 15, 2003

winamp 2.x

Thursday, May 15, 2003

- PuTTY.
- Glade, the GUI design tool for GTK+.
- Python.
- The Joel on Software Forum :-)

Tim Evans
Thursday, May 15, 2003

Back in the days of MS-DOS there was an early integrated office package named Enable.

Word processor, spreadsheet, and most importantly, a database product compatible with dBase file structures. Everything worked, and there was a cross-module scripting language which could create complete applications, similar in concept to VBA.

They never managed the transition to a GUI environment, and the product eventually died.  Oh well ... I guess Office would have killed it anyway.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

IntelliJ IDEA.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Generic CADD v6.0

In the days of DOS Shell and Edlin this was a tool without peer.  AutoDesk eventually bought and tanked it after it won 3 or 4 product of the year awards.  <sniff>

Thursday, May 15, 2003

In no particular order:
Tera-Term Pro
WordStar, Office97, OpenOffice 1.1+
Doom, Quake 2, Unreal, WarCraft, Total Annihilation, Command & Conquer
C++, Java, Perl, ksh

Mike Gamerland
Thursday, May 15, 2003

Octamed on the Amiga

Matthew Lock
Thursday, May 15, 2003

Borland Delphi
Editpad Pro
Snappy Fax
MS Excel
Opera 6.0, IE, Outlook
Commandos,The Sims

Thursday, May 15, 2003

I'd also like to add:

Thursday, May 15, 2003

xtree gold (about v2.5 for dos)
windows explorer (keeps getting better, search keeps getting worse)

edit.exe (seriously, and I don't mean
MSVC editor


cubic player

qpeg (dos image viewer)
winxp picture and fax viewer


Thursday, May 15, 2003

Interesting how many DOS apps have been mentioned already.

Forgot to add mine when I began:

VMS when running on the original VAX hardware
Brief editor on DOS
Borland Turbo C on DOS
Generic Cadd on DOS (good call by the earlier poster)
Quake I using OpenGL
MS Flight Simulator 2002

Honorable Mentions:

Borland Delphi
Symantec Ghost
Microsoft MSDN
Grand Prix Legends

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Thursday, May 15, 2003

There was a need for cool DOS utilities, because it didn't do... much.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

I second Brief editor on DOS

Thursday, May 15, 2003

I think the reason for fond memories of DOS software is that it actually changed the way in which we could work. Windows software rarely added/adds anything other than flashy special effects to getting the job done.

Think about it. Is the CONTENT produced in MS-Word any better than that of WordStar? It may look better, but often the improved appearance of documents has been at a considerable cost in time.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

3rd - Brief editor, DOS

The first real editor for the PC.  Often emulated.

Emacs ranks up there too.

Nat Ersoz
Thursday, May 15, 2003

Duke Nuken, 3D.  By far my favorite game of all time, multiplayer mode.  Quake I with Painkeep mods follows.

Nat Ersoz
Thursday, May 15, 2003

The phone book on my cell phone.  Really.

It has a simple job to do, and it does it in a simple but very usable fashion.  It stores home/work/mobile numbers under the same name.  (unlike my wife's phone, which requires separate entries).  It takes first and last name, sorting by last name.  Displays the caller's name when I dial, and let's me choose an alternate number when the first one doesn't work.  I've heard it also syncs with the computer, although I've never done that.  The phone book is the primary reason I've stayed with my carrier for the last few years.

(For the record, it's a Sprint Touchpoint 2200).

The Voice of Rationality
Thursday, May 15, 2003

The original Turbo Pascal
2002 FIFA World Cup on PS2
Almost Balance Of Power (read the book too!)

S. Tanna
Friday, May 16, 2003

Miranda ICQ
Quake 1, 2 & 3

Friday, May 16, 2003

The QuakeC compiler (used to generate the bytecode used by Quake for almost all game logic). I learned more from messing with that game than from any other single thing.

Mike Swieton
Friday, May 16, 2003

Turbo Pascal
JoS forum
Window Monkey
MS developer's CD documentation search facility and database

X. J. Scott
Friday, May 16, 2003

GML+Xedit on a mainframe - edit on a green-screen terminal, print as beautifully-formatted documents
Brief - fingers got used to <Alt> key combinations
Softice/DOS - debug interrupt-driven software
Win 3.1 - prettier than DOS
MSVC - an IDE; no more editing make files
Win32 - didn't keep crashing
Softice/NT - worked as advertised, unlike WinDbg
pcAnywhere - easier than travelling by airplane
debit cards and telephones - ubiquitous and reliable
telco software - 'alarms' (a soft assert) make it possible to debug what's happening in the field
compuserve, nntp, JoS - a soft-real-time party

Christopher Wells
Friday, May 16, 2003

VisualWorks Smalltalk 5.4i

Giovanni Corriga
Friday, May 16, 2003

Borland Delphi (with GExperts plug-in)
Allaire HomeSite
Windows Commander
DOS Navigator (a powerful DOS shell)
Advanced Uninstaller Pro

Friday, May 16, 2003

Sibelius 2
Borland Delphi

Friday, May 16, 2003


Friday, May 16, 2003

Surely the discussion on JOS is about the process of producing software, and flaws in that, rather than about products as such?

Friday, May 16, 2003

Tabbed browsing inNetscape 7.0

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 16, 2003

As long as we're getting into real games (somebody mentioned Balance of Power):

Ancient Art of War

M.U.L.E. (The one where you program a robot who goes out and fights according to a "program". Why doesn't that exist today???)


Half-Life (Where have you people been???)

Other cats:
Literary Machine/TheBrain/Some personal KM software I haven't found yet.


Ricardo Mahntoban
Friday, May 16, 2003

Opera 7
Video Lan Client
Return to castle wolfenstein

Friday, May 16, 2003

Windows 2000
SQL Server 2000
Terminal Services Client

Blasts from the past (vague memories of true goodness):
Lucid Common Lisp
Think Pascal

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, May 16, 2003

The most satisfying software I ever used was Visual Dialogscript.  It's a scripting language that is just so beautifully formed.

The languge was simple, it had just 24 variables available, from %A to %Z, and only a string datatype, but that didn't matter. 

It no structured statements.  No subs, no functions, just goto.  That didn't matter either.

Visual Dialogscript just worked.  I could throw together a script to be used by non technical colleagues in 5 minutes and those scripts would never, ever come back to bite me.  They compiled to an .exe with a bound runtime weighing in at less than 200k, and you sent them by email and the person used them without any trouble at all.  The colleague would then have some complex task simplified to a touch button and they would use it without ever having to come back to me.

I was doing some complex stuff as well.  I remember on one occasssion I needed a mass of data from a dos database that didn't provide an export feature and used a propriatry file format.  I wrote a screen scraper and had all of the data safely in Access before lunch.

The program was just simple elegance.  A software house bought the rights and extended it to be more like a real scripting language.  They ruined it.

I still search for something else like it.

Ged Byrne
Friday, May 16, 2003

tcsh+grep+sed+tr+head+less+ls ..
FAR ( ) - resembles but better then NortonCommander and it is for win*
winamp 2.x
WindowMaker  +  dokings

Gestues for Mozilla
Tabs for Mozilla
Typeahead for Mozilla
DOM Inspector for Mozilla


ATnotes - stiky notes for win*

Friday, May 16, 2003


- Directory Opus
- PPMore


- Winamp 2.x
- Cygwin environment


- It's ports system.

Programming Languages:

- Ruby

I like emacs, but its still too quirky to be considered 'most' satisfying.

Gordon Hartley
Friday, May 16, 2003

OS X - a useable gui that runs on BSD (the ability to drop to a shell window is just way cool)

Cygwin - Most things I can do at least twice as fast in a bash shell than I can in explorer and whatever.

Vim (,gvim, etc) - For me, its faster than any text editor, because it's completely keyboard driven. Has a long learning curve and requires a shift in thinking. But for me, dd is faster than [home] [shift+end] [ctrl+x], :g/ /s// /g is faster than [ctrl+r], [tab] etc etc.... and having 9 clipboard things for cutting and pasting from is awesome.

IntelliJ IDEA - This IDE freekin rocks. You don't notice just how great it is until you've used it for at least a month - up front it seems simple, but it is increadibly powerful. And the best part - its cheap and has a sensible licencing model (per user - doesn't matter how many machines you own - this is the way software should be.)

LCD Monitors (the reason I went to laptops years ago)

Microsoft Entourage - Exactly what Outlook should be!

Rhys Keepence
Friday, May 16, 2003

Oops - missed Norton Utilities (DOS era).

Gordon Hartley
Friday, May 16, 2003

RE: LCD monitors... Guess the moron who got carried away and forgot the subject line :)

Rhys Keepence
Friday, May 16, 2003

Norton Utilities (DOS)
Clipper 5 (DOS)
MS Access


ZX Spectrum Emulators (ZX32/Spectaculator)

I'm, sure there are others, but these were the ones that came immediately to mind.

Paulo Caetano
Friday, May 16, 2003

Pmate my favouritest editor and I only stopped using it because it lost the plot when higher resolution happened and it didn't really understand paths.  I can still remember the macro language.

Search. A utility that came out of Victor and let you do with a DOS file system what you'd normally do with the usual Unix suspects.  Mind I had the usual suspects running on DOS as well from some internal MS source.

InfoModeler.  ORM modelling, liberated my data designing.

Pueblo.  Cool MUD client.

Simon Lucy
Friday, May 16, 2003


Forgot Wilbur, a personal search engine.

It's been a real time-saver.

Paulo Caetano
Friday, May 16, 2003


Rahoul Baruah
Friday, May 16, 2003

The Hobbit (game on the Spectrum, years ago) - great UI for its day.

JED (text editor) - does everything it says on the box, and then some.

Other than that the best software runs on a computer which is switched off.

Friday, May 16, 2003

xtree pro
turbo pascal
norton utilities

Friday, May 16, 2003

Norton Utilities(DOS)

SimCity classic
GP classic
GW Basic

Football Manager (BBC micro)

Friday, May 16, 2003

Format c:


Bryan Shaw
Friday, May 16, 2003

Gel -
Mozilla Firebird

Friday, May 16, 2003


Friday, May 16, 2003

Winamp 2.x

Friday, May 16, 2003

Visual Studio .NET
Wizardry (AppleII)

Clutch Cargo
Friday, May 16, 2003

Manic Miner (ZX Spectrum)

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, May 16, 2003

* SQL Server 7.0/2000, EditPlus, Terminal Server, VMWare, etc etc.

* Netscape 4.5, back when the alternative really sucked (FTP and console apps for example).

Low level stuff:

* The MP3 Codec and the various nice rippers, players for it, thank you everyone for using it instead of 40 different formats!

* JPEG, my modem, daytimer, hard drive thank you.

* Memory protection: the only reason why anyone still bother to continue to buy a Mac after the System 6-9.

* Open source stuff, after it takes you through hell and 500,000 lines of C and you learn from it.

* Other hard working low level sh*t of that general nature.

Li-fan Chen
Friday, May 16, 2003


moses whitecotton
Friday, May 16, 2003

>Netscape 4.5

Now here is one I never would have thought to make it on any of these lists. Realy surprised.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, May 16, 2003


The greatest game of all time!  Why? Because of its simplicity. It is exactly what it needs to be -- no more, no less.
I have a feeling that the reason so many old DOS programs have come up on people's lists here is for the same reason (simplicity). When you don't have much to work with, it forces you to *really* consider what's essential and what should be left out. More is definitely NOT better-- extra things just get in the way, and add to the signal-to-noise ratio.

Jordan Lev
Friday, May 16, 2003

Symbian OS
Aurora (DOS editor)
Ralph Brown's DOS interruption list
Watcom's C/C++ compiler for DOS.
Flash MX

Beka Pantone
Friday, May 16, 2003

Forgot Norton Navigator for DOS.  :)

Beka Pantone
Friday, May 16, 2003

In no particular order
- Ruby
- gcc
- valgrind
- linux

OK, so it is linux /unix centric, but frankly it all started one bad day when I got pissed off with yet another button telling me something I couldn't care less about, and demanding that I OK'ed it before it did anything else.

That said, Visual is an awesome package!

Friday, May 16, 2003

1) Borland Delphi. It just felt right to me, immediately.

2) Help and Manual. It worked, out of the box, exactly how I expected it to.

3) ICQ. Early incarnations of it were just amazing, and it created (or, at least, popularized) a new way of communication.

4) Windows 2000. More taste. Less filling.

Tim Sullivan
Friday, May 16, 2003

Mac OS X and many of the "i" applications are truly a joy to use.  Safari is also shaping up to be a great browser.  After suffering through the worlds of MS DOS and Windows for so long, it's such a pleasure to work with software (and hardware for that matter) that is designed as well as some of the Apple products.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Mechwarrior 1, 2, & 2: Mercenaries
Wing Commander 1 & 2
Lode Runner
Wings of Fury
Settlers 2
Demos (Future Crew?)


Web-based email
Streets & Trips
Terminal Services
Winamp 2.x

My Timex watch - it looks the same as the one I had 10+ years ago, but it works /so/ much better.. it's hard to describe.  I was learning new functionality within the watch for several weeks.

Friday, May 16, 2003

---"Now here is one I never would have thought to make it on any of these lists. Realy surprised. "---

As he's talking about Netscape 4.5 as being the only alternative to FTP I rather think he has got his versions mixed up. Presumably he started with Netscape 2.0, which was pretty well the only player on the block, and got as far as Netscape 4.5 before he found out about Internet Explorer!

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 16, 2003

No particular order:

- Edit Plus:
- Windows Commander:
- Mozilla:
- IrfanView:

Chi Lambda
Friday, May 16, 2003

Windows XP

Friday, May 16, 2003

BeOS -- a fabulous operating system
MacOS X -- the OS itself.  Not as perfect as BeOS, but nothing else is
PalmOS' bundled applications (address book, date book, etc.) have struck me as very well-designed.

Brent P. Newhall
Friday, May 16, 2003

* Wildcat!
* Empire
* Kingdom of Kroz
* SlickEdit (Non-Visual Version)

Friday, May 16, 2003

WBS Chart Pro
Pert Chart Expert
iGrafx Flowcharter
BlitzBasic 3D
Adobe Illustrator 10

Philippe Back
Friday, May 16, 2003

Current Tools:
Debian GNU/Linux
Internet Explorer 6

Some Old Games:
Raid on Bungling Bay (C64)
Gunship (C64)

Steven E. Harris
Friday, May 16, 2003

Original Turbo Pascal
Synplify FPGA logic synthesis (it's a hardware thing)

Hardware Guy
Friday, May 16, 2003

Game:        Ricochet on the Apple ][
Language:  Forth
Application: Lotus Improv
Utility:        Gawk

Steve Wheeler
Friday, May 16, 2003

Galactic Civilizations

Friday, May 16, 2003

UCSD Pascal system on a AppleII+.

Incredible, but that was the first high quality IDE I ever used on a pc.    Just fabulous. It was slick, and even had type-ahead (that was a big deal back then!).

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Albert D. Kallal
Friday, May 16, 2003

(Speaking of UCSD, the Fortune program on the Unix terminals was fun. So was asking the command prompt, "Why?")

I've really seriously considered this question, and the only answer I've come up with is Google.


Friday, May 16, 2003

Winamp 2, the only program that's never made me unhappy.
google search
programs I write

I wish dr. scheme could make this list.

Friday, May 16, 2003

I see Mitch & Murray (topic starter) lists the racing simulation (notice I didn't same "game") Grand Prix Legends.

This is really an amazing program.  It came out in 1998 and is still arguable the best sim out there for car racing.  Papyrus (the same company that made Grand Prix Legends) has concentrated on their Nascar Racing series since then, but really hasn't improved much on the physics model much other than to add modeling of tire wear and aerodynamic downforce, the latter of which wasn't really discovered in car racing until the 1970's.

For a game to last 5 years and still be a candidate for "best of breed" is absolutely amazing.  In part this is due to GPL having an amazing physics engine, in part because the multi-player internet play was ahead of its time and still has been equalled only by the same company's NASCAR series, and in part it's because the GPL game community has continually provided graphics updates, new tracks, etc.  You can see evidence of the still-thriving community at this gpl link page:

If Doom was the groundbreaker for first-person shooters, then Grand Prix Legends is its counterpart for racing sims, and GPL is every bit as impressive although it's never gotten much public notice.

Herbert Sitz
Friday, May 16, 2003

Norton Utilities (DOS)
Windows XP
FTP Explorer

Todd Rosenberg
Saturday, May 17, 2003

The best piece of software I ever used was Partition Magic by Powerquest.  In 15 minutes it re-partitioned my hard disk "on the fly," something that previously had taken days due to the software reloads required.  It's an amazing product.

Interesting the number of posts mentioning Delphi and TP. I'm learning Visual Studio .Net now and its interface sucks compared with Delphi.

Karl Perry
Saturday, May 17, 2003

Most -

Turbo Pascal
Delphi 3

Least -

MS Word

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Enterprise Architect

Walter Rumsby
Sunday, May 18, 2003

Windows Server 2003 Enterprise
(I'd call it Windows Server 2003 Luxirius)

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Imho Winamp 2.x is the best here ;) Could any one calculate top 10?

>Netscape 4.5
I whould tell you, that Netscape _Communicator_ 4.* as whole is really great software. I am web developer, network admin and IT manager. We still usign it (as mail and web client) and have no problem with viruses for 4 years. It is not the _web_ client solely, so I will not compare it to IE. Personaly me have used it up untill Mozilla 1.0 (or M19?).
Just 2 examples. It is great for computer classes, where anyone could use any computer and get all his mail&settings. It is cool tool for CD presentations (it could run directly from CD without installation and you will not have version incompatibility).

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Word Perfect 5.1 - I build a complete database application with menues (press '1' for search, press '2' for edit record, etc..) for a customer in '93. Still remember a lot of the shor cuts...

Innocent Bystander
Sunday, May 18, 2003

airbourne on the original mac - but i was young at the time

Monday, May 19, 2003

find, grep, tail -f, bash, xargs, awk, sed, you get the idea

René Nyffenegger
Monday, May 19, 2003

borland turbo pascal - dos, c. 1991
norton utilities 4.5 - dos, c. 1989
QEMM (quarterdeck expanded memory manager), c. 1991
Freelance 3.0 - dos, c. 1989
Wordperfect 5.2 - dos, c. 1989
vim/gvim - Linux, W2K, current
VMWare - W2K host, current
MS Excel - since c. 1992, ver 3 & all since
Old Equation Editor from MS WinWord v 1
Arena (discrete event simulation software built on top of SIMAN)
Corps Battle Simulation -- amazing to watch a full-up exercise run, hugely useful. (DEC VAX 6000 or 7000 for game, MicroVax 3100-40's driving workstations), c. 1992
VBA -- yep. you can laugh if you want, but when your organization won't let you have any automation capabilities, and MS Office is all you have, then you make do. I have accomplished a lot of work using VBA, warts and all.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Nothing beats: [Start] -> Shut Down -> [OK]

nobody you know
Wednesday, May 21, 2003

With so much DOS users, I´m surprised no one mentioned The SemWare Editor (TSE for short), formerly QEdit, an incredible editor for programming in ANY language and for any text related tasks!  "".
Also on DOS world:  the so cloned Norton Commander!

On Windows world:

Clarion, a wonderfull RAD tool (THE BEST!) for development of data base applications.  ""
Opera7 browser ""
SmartDraw, a charting tool ""
PrintMaster, a incredible tool for make banners, folders, cards, brochures, etc. ""

Flavio Suarez
Friday, June 4, 2004

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