Saturday, October 4, 2008


About a month ago I was asked to look at an application that has been
under active development and support for quite some time. Written in C
and C++ (my old stomping grounds for 20 years) I was really looking
forward to getting stuck into the code.

What I was not expecting was the lack of tool support. I sort of knew
that refatoring tools, tests and code coverage would be a bit of a
challenge but I did not think that it would be the challenge that it
turned out to be.

I have gotten used to being able to download tools, try them out and
if appropriate buy them and add them to my toolbox. Ideally there
would be an open source tool I could use instead to get the job
done. Moving back into the C++ world also took me back in time to an
era where evaluation downloads are not available. Instead I would have
to register my interest and someone would be in touch to talk to me
about the wonders of their application and to perhaps run the
application over my source code. Well first I tend to get about a bit
and at the time I was out of my home country and well away from the
tool vendors timezone. I was up against the clock in putting together
some initial findings and recommendations, and lastly it was not my
source code so I could not offer it up to someone else to go poking
around in anyway.

Strike one - keep on searching for someone with a little less of a
protectionist attitude.

Unfortunately this seemed to become a theme. Other suppliers had no
evaluations and insisted on money up front and land shipping. In a way
they may have been doing me a favour, if the software is so complex
that it needs to be demonstrated and the licencing enforcement so
strong that it becomes difficult to use (I have been hit before by
node locked liceses to machines that decide to die) then maybe this
approach has just saved me a lot of heart ache and pain.

On the plus side there are tools out in 'open source' land that can
help and there *are* a few companies that have moved with the times
and provide a more open licensing scheme. When I have time I will list
out the toolkit that I came up with.

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