All-time favourite Tools

Who doesn’t have them? Those all-time favourite tools. It’s not just software, it’s passion. Those tools are tools that you always have to use. Tools where all objectivity seems to fade away when it comes to making recommendations. Tools where you actively monitor (or even participate in) the developement. Tools where you, though they are free, gladly donate some money. Tools you love.

Of course, I too know of some tools. And this is my list (in no particular order):

  • Exim is an UNIX MTA (mail server). It is not only extremely configurable, it’s even easy to do so. Back in 2000, Exim was the only MTA capable of being used in a environement where all accounts are stored in a MySQL database. Since then I am using Exim for all my mail serving needs and I still have not stopped discovering new ways the incredibly flexible configuration scheme can be used to do even fancier stuff. But the greatest thing about exim is it’s creator, Philip Hazel. Phil is a ingenious programmer. A really pragmatical one. I love to read his emails on the exim mailinglist. I love to see his solutions that are quite often so much easier than what others suggested but leave nothing to ask for at all. Btw: During summer 2001 I even extended my Accounts-in-MySQL-Configuration and put it on the web as a .txt-File. Oliver Siegmar was convinced enough to build XAMS on it. I really like Exim
  • PostgreSQL came to my rescue when I desperatly needed a RDBMS that really merits that name. I constantly run into limitations of MySQL, so I was on the lookout for a better alternative. With the TOAST tables of PostgreSQL 7.1, it was finally possible to have length-unlimited columns which I needed in the webapplication I was working with (for storing long comments), so it became a real solution. Since then PostgreSQL never failed me or any of our customers. In my journey with PostgreSQL I learned a lot about programming database systems while reading through the posts of people like the ever so conservative Tom Lane and others. What a great community. What a great database server!
  • InnoSetup (and it’s graphical frontend ISTool) is a easy to use and extremely powerful generator for Windows Installations. I know that you are supposed to use MSI these days, but InnoSetup works, has any feature you could dream of and – that’s the point – is terribly easy to use. My journey with InnoSetup is a long one. It began back in 1996, where I was the first translator at all (now long outdated) and it goes on through nearly all releases till’ today. Inno’s programmer, Jordan Roussell is another one of those extremely talented ones. Reading his posts in the support newsgroups is a real pleasure – reading Inno’s sourcecode is very enlightening. How powerful such a little tool can be!

And you? Do you have such tools in your toolbox? Do you use the words love and software in the same phrase? I certainly do!