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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 Diomidis Spinellis

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Portability: Goodies vs. the Hair Shirt

Deciding whether to write portable code or not should be the outcome of a cost-benefit analysis. The key reason to favor portable code is that it opens up the selection of resources available to our project. Diverse technology choices free us from vendor lock-in, allowing us to select the best technology in each area based on quality and price, and minimize technology risks. However, portable code can degrade functionality, expressiveness, and efficiency. A middle course involves drawing boundaries around the non-portable code to isolate it from the rest of the application. Another approach is to admit defeat and write code that gives the best native experience. In the long term, separately maintained code bases can be less complex than a unified one.


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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