Had a little task I wanted to accomplish this weekend, and — since it was a pretty straight-forward file-system manipulation — I elected to go with your basic DOS batch file.
It worked fine, but since this script was not for me – but for a less savvy user – the issue of error trapping came up. Is this drive mounted, is the disc full, is the file locked, was the copy/move/delete successful and all that.
As usual, it was about five minutes for the actual work that needed to be done, and hours of error-trapping.
And it still wasn’t what I thought I needed: DOS just isn’t that flexible. Not to mention that a “black screen” popping up weirds out folks.
So I turned to VB (Visual Basic, for the uninitiated….)
Not counting the time it took me to reacquaint myself with VB (how do you refresh a file list on drive change???) and so on, using VB was a lot like using DOS (or – face it – any language): The initial work – for a user knowing exactly what to do – was relatively trivial.
Again, the error-trapping was the tough part. Think of all that could go wrong and then build in this exception handling, reseting variables, setting error messages and so on.
But with VB it was more of a problem as to exactly what I wanted to do/say, as opposed to the limitations of the language and its tool.
I’d forgotten how good Microsoft tools – mainly, Visual Studio – are. Very nice. (Note: I have Visual Studio v6; sure, I’d like Visual Studio .Net…anyone want to buy it for me??? I don’t use it enough to justify it right now.)
I’ve used a lot of tools – maybe not as many as hard-core programmers, since I’ve been doing a lot of scripting languages – but I have used a fair number.
Microsoft’s tools are, far and away, the best of the bunch. No wonder — it keeps the developers happy and coding (
Let’s take Java tools: Borland’s JBuilder is pretty good, but the Personnel Edition I have (free) is clunky. I’ve used Forte, which sucks. My favorite was Syamntec’s Visual Cafe. It was very much like a Visual Studio interface, a nice debugger and so on. Symantec then sold this product to WebGain, which – since it is in the process of going under – to TogetherSoft (which appears to have been acquired by Borland…shit, I can’t keep up….). I really haven’t seen the product since v1.1, but it was a great tool. (Hmm….looking at the Togethersoft site — labeled “Borland” — I can’t find a reference to Visual Cafe. *sigh* Looks like they killed it…..)
ERwin, as a data-modeling tool, is incredibly useful and I love what it can do, but — face it — the product looks like a 16-bit app. Ugly, clunky, non-intuitive but powerful. Not exactly a four-star review…
On the scripting-language side, Allaire’s (oops! Macromedia’s) Homesite and Cold Fusion Studio are, to me, the best Web editors out there. But I’m a hand coder: For HTML/scripting use, I just need a file browser, a slew of (customizable) menus and good color coding. I don’t need validators (I have the W3C) or WYSIWYG tools. I hope Macromedia keeps these tools alive…
Speaking of WYSIWYG tools, Dreamweaver is the best of the bunch that I’ve used.
I’ve used Dreamweaver most of the times I need a WYSIWYG tool (rarely); I like the way it doesn’t screw with my code. FrontPage — a Microsoft tool — is a disaster, but I can see it’s appeal for the very newest of the newbies. GoLive is fairly strong, but I still like Dreamweaver better. Probably because it’s more code-oriented than GoLive (Adobe product – more visual/drag-and-drop, which makes perfect sense).
Good tools are hard to come by, which is why some many people are so protective of their tool choices. Part of this is human nature – the refusal to change and the inability to admit wrong choices made – but part of it is just that, when you have a good tool, you hang on to it. You talk it up. You hope it lives (unlike Visual Cafe, I guess…damn…).