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Welcome to Tools of the Trade

This podcast of an ongoing IEEE Software column explores the interplay between you, the software practitioner, and the tools you apply to the development problems you face. Skilled craftsmen set themselves apart from amateurs by the tools they use and the way they employ them. As a professional, I feel I'm getting a tremendous boost in my productivity by appropriately applying tools to the software construction problems I face every day. I also often find myself developing new tools, both for my personal use and for wider distribution. Column installments will discuss specific software construction activities from the standpoint of the tools we can employ — the tools of our trade. Future topics include editing, compiling, documentation, debugging, testing, configuration management, issue tracking, the development environment, tool building, and domain-specific tools. Of course, your suggestions are always welcome; email me at dds@aueb.gr. Diomidis Spinellis

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Systems Software

Systems software is the low-level infrastructure that applications run on. As an applications programmer, first try to find existing systems software rather than writing it from scratch. Once you start writing systems software, use the most efficient algorithms and data structures that gracefully accommodate the workload. Have your code check for all error returns, block when it has nothing to do, and avoid repeatedly processing data in memory. You can accelerate stress testing your software by configuring your testing environment to exercise its edge cases. To debug your software, instrument it with copious amounts of configurable logging.

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About the Speaker

Diomidis SpinellisDiomidis Spinellis is a professor in the Department of Management Science and Technology at the Athens University of Economics and Business and the author of Code Quality: The Open Source Perspective (Addison-Wesley, 2006). Contact him at dds@aueb.gr.