Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Good Software and Bad Software

The Good

I recently started using a program called TUGZip for working with ZIP files. Prior to that I used WINZIP. Unlike WINZIP, TUGZip is free software; it is almost as fast as WINZIP; and it has a very attractive user interface. It's particularly useful to have if you share archives with open source types, because it also recognizes a bunch of other archive file formats like RAR and TGZ. You can get TUGZip here.

The Bad

At work I am using PVCS 6.8 from Merant. It is absolutely dreadful. The front end is written in JAVA and uses the AWT windowing classes, so it doesn't look like a 'proper' Windows app. I can hear the head-in-the-clouds 'architect' behind this now: "If we write in Java, we have a cross platform app!". Well that's great but this customer uses - and wants a tool designed specifically for - Windows; I don't give a crap if that makes it harder for Merant to support other platforms!

We've got some big source files which have gone through a lot of revisions. This means I am now waiting upwards of 40 seconds for each file to be checked in or out. We have one source directory with 300 files in, and when you hit that directory in the GUI, you can go grab a cup of coffee before the list of files appears. The archives themselves are 'serialized Java classes'; great if you like that sort of thing, but absolutely useless if you want quick response times!

The worst part is the tools they give you, like VLOG, to help integrating your own build tools with the repository. They are hardly documented at all, and when you do find out how to use them you find they are so unbelievably slow you don't want to.
1 - You will never beat PKZip for Windows - the one and only original program of it's kind! (hahahahaha - some code I wrote 10 years ago is still in that thing)

2 - Whomever writes a proper front end for PVCS in Windows stands to make a lot of money. Whomever invented AWT and/or Swing ought to be shot. I still can't believe someone hasn't written a good VM that converts that AWT and Swing crap into proper window structures.
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