With so many open source (or simply freely available) alternatives for nearly every programming tool category, which software do you (or your boss) pay for and why? Is the decision based on saving development time, better functionality, documentation or simply corporate policy?

+16  A: 

I bought VS2005 and VS2008. I also purchased Resharper. I use Tortoise SVN and Unfuddle, which are both free tools. Oh and I also purchased Telerik controls.

  • VS because I've found that nothing has the same functionality for coding c#
  • Resharper because I feel it's helping me to become a better coder.
  • Tortoise SVN because I wasn't happy with Ankh and I didn't necessarily need the VS integration.
  • Unfuddle because 1 project at a time is free
  • Telerik because their controls save me time and there wasn't really a good product that's free.
What's the point of selecting one answer as "accepted" in a question like this which cannot really have one definitive answer?
unfuddle is cool but github is where it's at these days :)lolz
+8  A: 

Visual SVN. Ankh just crashes my VS too much.

Kent Boogaart
Which version of Ankh were you using? I'm using the 2.0 version and haven't had any issues with it.
I tried the latest version as of around a month ago. Same problem on both my machine and a colleague's.
Kent Boogaart
Odd, what version of Visual Studio?
I had issues with Ankh, then upgraded to 2.0 - no issues since then.
Kyle Trauberman
VisualSVN rocks!
Chuck Conway
Ankh since 2.0 is ok, older version sucked though.
Andrei Rinea
+18  A: 

IntelliJ IDEA, which is by far the best Java IDE there is (imho). In particular, it's code completion, refactoring, search capabilities and a whole lot of little touches just put it head and shoulders above any other I've used (Eclipse, Netbeans, JDeveloper and years ago Jbuilder).

i find the latest eclipse rather fine, but thanks for the tip i'll give it a try
Yeah. Our team of 10 all use IDEA; most other tools are free.The license price of ~500€ is not that high if you consider what developers get paid. Even if it gives a small boost in productivity it pays for itself quickly (and it gives a BIG boost, not to mention making development more pleasant).
Guess what:
+35  A: 

Resharper, because once you get used to it, it makes coding a lot easier and faster. On top of that it greatly increases the refactoring abilities of Visual Studio .Net.

Gerrie Schenck
Totally, I feel naked with out it. It's the only tool that I've ever bought. Well scratch that, I did buy Visual SVN. Managing subversion check in and outs without it is a nightmare.
Chuck Conway
Bah I'd kill for resharper. I want to buy it but work says it's a luxury item and we don't have the $ for it
+57  A: 

Beyond Compare. It's just a fantastic compare tool and I couldn't live without it.

Kent Boogaart
WinMerge is free and perhaps better, KDiff3 is also free and useful.
Rob Williams
+1 vote for WinMerge. There is even a portable (thumbdrive) version available here
Ryan Taylor
+22  A: 

FogBugz. It's just so painless and streamlined compared to free options I've tried such as Trac and Bugzilla.

Kent Boogaart
I found Redmine to be even more flexible and easier to use.
Joel hasn't voted this one up to the top yet?
Jim C
Redmine is very nice. kent boogaart has a man crush on joel i think
They do have a free "Student and Startup Edition" for 2 'active'. Just sign up for the trial, then go to manage my account. There should be some kind of "Switch to..." link somewhere, even if it's small. This is what I do and it works great.
Lucas Jones
dude, joels gonna get so mad when he sees you are telling people how to game his software.
I haven't used redmine. But I won't deny the man crush ;)
Kent Boogaart
Fogbugz works well. I bought it to spend as little time as possible in it. The less time i spend in Fogbugz and the more I spend solving problems, the happier i am. Worth every penny so far. Hosted edition has speed issues once in a while but they seem to be fixing it often with their growth
Jas Panesar
person-b, thanks! I'll try FogBugz for my projects now :)
kent - haha, good sport
try as well, it's got a different approach but I liked it a lot. Fogbugz got a terrible UI and lack of startup guides for best practices to use the system. Mixing feature and bugs doesn't help either.
dr. evil
+2  A: 

TestDriven.NET. The integration with VS is perfect. Note that this is free for personal use.

Kent Boogaart

I pay for those tools, such as Resharper, FogBugz and the DevExpress suite for which there is simply no good free alternative. I use free tools such as Tortoise SVN or SubSonic if I am sure that they are stable, well supported and will be around for a long time.

Being free is not a particular attraction to me. A free tool actually costs more than all but the most expensive paid tools if it is abandoned in a few years and I have to spend time rewriting software to adapt to this loss.

Mark Brittingham
+5  A: 

I mainly bought the following tools for personal use:

  • Visual Studio Standard 2008 (and the predecessors)
  • ReSharper
  • RegExBuddy

There are no better free variants for those tools, and they support my development work with many productivity tools to be worth the money.

I will buy IntelliJ IDEA as soon as I will have some serious Java projects to do, because I am fed up with various nagging problems in Eclipse.

Sebastian Dietz
+1  A: 

I have Versions and a Beanstalk account for version control. Apart from that, everything else I use is free.

Ian Turner
+18  A: 

Visual Assist X

Tim Matthews
Does this provide functionality that Resharper doesn't?
Support for C/C++
Rasmus Faber
+34  A: 

I bought TextMate when I got a mac, one of the best text editors for programmers. I also managed to get two copies bought for $WORK.

uh, if you did really downvote my answer just because you are a vim fan (which I am too BTW), that's not very nice.
Too bad that TextMate dead now :(
Erm no, it is not dead, I'm just waiting for 2.0 as many hundreds of other people...
+1  A: 

I'll just post the paid ones:

Visual Studio + Team System
Microsoft SQL Server
Kentico CMS

+21  A: 

Only the computer and a copy of Windows. It's actually the company's, not mine, but that's all they've had to pay for my programming. All the tools I use are free/open.

Adriano Varoli Piazza
Throw in a "me too" for this approach. Unless you count the database server, which is Oracle for us.
Mr. Shiny and New
"Me too". We'd like to buy some tools, but we don't have the budget for that right now.
Brian Knoblauch
-1 since your answer to the question asked is: None
@Stumproot: so your computer and your OS aren't tools in programming? You (or your employer) didn't choose them for your specific work? What about all the talk about 2 or 3 monitors being better?You might also want to downvote .
Adriano Varoli Piazza
+13  A: 

Red Gate ANTS profiler

+7  A: 

I purchased a license for JungleDisk. It's not a programming tool, but it allows me to sleep better at night, knowing that Amazon will take good care of my Subversion repository backups and other important data of mine.

Anders Sandvig
+1  A: 

RAD Studio (Delphi)

ugh! Delphi! ... you're not allowed to post anymore
+17  A: 

ViEmu. It's a VI emulation layer for Visual Studio. It rocks!!!

+1. I can't work sanely without ViEmu!
Kyle Walsh
That is awesome! I didn't know that existed.I'll have to try that out. Here's hoping it works with Visual Assist.
Eddie Parker
it does, I use them both with VS. Love that combo (VS + VA + VI) very much
Emile Vrijdags
I've been using a macro to open gvim to the cursor. This looks even better.
Judge Maygarden
You guys are nuts!
I'd pay a lot of money for a usable Emacs emulation layer...
Deniz Dogan
+30  A: 

Total Commander, and if someone ask how it is programming tool, I use it to:

  • diff / merge files
  • compare / synchronize directories
  • deploy using ftp / sftp
  • start / stop servers
  • browse source tree and edit files
  • start / stop services
  • kill / view processes and registry
  • and pretty much everything file related

(add below)

  • Pack/unpack files
  • Peek into a Linux RPM to just view/copy a particular file
  • Mount ISO image
  • Browse Linux / ext partition
Dev er dev
+1 (+1,000,000 if I could). Total Commander is the one productivity-enhancing tool that everyone must have. If you're still using Windows Explorer for your daily tasks, you're wasting A LOT of time.
Ates Goral
I've actually tried to buy this program in their web shop and I always fail :)
The only thing hard with Total Commander is actually transferring the money to them.
See also:
I think Total Commander is a logical step for anyone from Norton Commander era. It's the first application I install on clean Windows.
lubos hasko
Main reason why I can't work on MacHow do you mount images with it? I use demon tools
Zeljko Dakic
@desireco: just open a .iso as if it's a directory. Or use a ext2fs plugin to browse linux partitions:
Wouter van Nifterick
The first piece of software I ever bought. I had used the "trial" version for a long time, then realized that Christian Ghisler is just a working programmer like me. Well worth the money - I'd pay that annually.

For the most part my company will provide any paid tools I need, and for most of the programming I do outside of work I use open source tools. One exception was Enterprise Architect I like it enough that I wanted a personal, rather than company constrained license. (I tried StarUML and ArgoUML but feel like EA is more feature complete.

+2  A: 

CodeRush / Refactor Pro is worth every penny.

+4  A: 

Microsoft related

  • Visual Studio w/ MSDN
  • Expression Studio


  • Flex Builder
  • Flash
Brent Schooley
+31  A: 

Hardware. There just aren't free alternatives to physical hardware, so that's where my money goes to at the moment.

Getting the best software tools, be it free or commercial, is important, but having a good powerful machine for development should not be overlooked -- after all, what good is the newest IDE with code-completion and refactoring tools when those tools take 20 seconds to execute, leading to irritation and decreased produtivity, because the development machine is five years old?

Having a machine with a dual- or quad-core processor with plenty of memory, a fast hard disk and dual-monitor set up is going to be a serious productivity boost, compared to having to fight with a five year old machine which constantly disk swaps due to a lack of memory.

+1  A: 

I bought phpDesigner for PHP-development

I have this, but prefer Eclipse over it.
+3  A: 

IntelliJ IDEA.

I've been doing some programming in Groovy and nothing even comes close to IDEA's support for Groovy.

Nowadays, it's even suited for Flex, ActionScript, Python and Scala development.

Rui Vieira
+39  A: 

books.... unless i can get them online for free

+1  A: 

Quest's TOAD is pretty useful if you do database work. It's pretty fast and has lots of features. There are free alternatives and tools provided by the vendor but this tool has lots of stuff all in one place. The UI is not for the timid, but to use it you need to know how to write SQL, so that's not usually a problem.

Mr. Shiny and New
+1  A: 

dotTrace - the best profiler for .NET code.

+4  A: 

Balsamiq Mockups. It is an easy-to-use tool for creating mockups.


My IDE- Intellij IDEA. And yes have tried Eclipse (I had to learn enough of it to support my co-workers who use it). IDEA is just better at navigating large code bases.

Also, although it's not a "programming tool" per se, I would add OSX Leopard to this list. I used to be an avid Linux user, but it was worth the money for me not to have to "administer" my development environment anymore. Some things are just worth paying for.

Limbic System
+24  A: 

I like UltraEdit. It's easy to use, very configurable, does conversions and has macro recording capabilities. The free editor NotePad ++ is coming along, but it hasn't caught up quite yet.

Column Edit and Hex Edit have helped me troubleshoot many issues... now if I could just associate file extensions with "View As" types for .NET config files...
Easy to do: UltraEdit Menu -> Advanced -> Configuration -> Editor Display -> Syntax Highlighting -> Open. Search for "XML" (should be L6), at the end of the L(#) line, append "CONFIG" after WSDL. This will auto set .config files to be viewed as XML syntax highlighting.You are welcome.
Chris Porter
I started on UltraEdit. Then I got to use UEStudio, and now I'm hooked on that.
UE was nice, but at least some 5 years or so back it didn't support Unicode nearly well enough. So I went out and bought EmEditor -- for me it is great as not only it does Unicode perfectly, it also supports a full implementation of regexp search/replace and extensions/macros written in Javascript.
I used UltraEdit for years then last year changed to UEStudio - same backbone, with more functionality. Great tools both worth supporting.
+2  A: 

Personally, I've bought:

  • TextMate
  • Versions
Chris Stewart
Versions is on my to-buy list.
Kyle Trauberman

Ummmm... does my server count?

As noted, there's perfectly good free apps to do just about everything. I think I'll buy Balsamiq once I get back into freelancing on the side, but everything else I use is free.

+5  A: 

RedGate SQL toolbelt - the schema/data compare tools are awesome, as is the DB documentation tool. The prompt tool (i.e. intellisense for SQL) is also worth a look, although can be slow on a large DB

Paul Nearney
+36  A: 

Visual Studio

Say what you want about Microsoft, but VS is a great IDE.

Then why doesn't it have a decent way of managing project settings in large solutions?
I'm not saying it's perfect. There are things about it that I'd like to change as well. But I've never worked with a better IDE.
I agree that it is a great tool. That and TFS. And they are really trying to improve.
Wagner Silveira
I'm not a Microsoft fanboy - but if there is one thing they have done really well it is their development tools/languages.
Steve Cadwallader
Often a little too slow (or very) and it can freak out with solutions on occasion, but it's indeed a great IDE.
I also agree, it's a great IDE...but it's also getting alot into my way and it's slow sometimes.
+12  A: 

RegexBuddy is well worth the money if you use Regular Expressions at all.

I use Expresso, which is a) free; and b) awesome.
Dmitri Nesteruk
+10  A: 

you can find more info here:

Software worth buying


SQL Prompt (intellisense for SQL Server) - Any developer that touches a SQL Server database should get this tool.

Miyagi Coder
+1  A: 

Komodo IDE

+1  A: 

I'm a consultant so I pay for my own tools.

Resharper is invaluable. It pays for itself over and over. I'm amazed anyone writes c# without Resharper. If you write c# for a living and you don't own a copy, go download it now.

I recently bought Visual SVN. Very nice if you are using subversion.

I've owned the latest version of UltraEdit for 10+ years now.

+7  A: 

MSDN subscription, with Visual Studio.

Bob King
+5  A: 

I have paid for ActiveState's Komodo IDE in the past. It's kind of like Visual Studio for Perl, Python, Ruby and Tcl. And it runs on Windows, Linux, Solaris and OS X. Probably not something that hardcore emacs/vi people would like, but I found it to be wonderful when debugging relatively large bodies of code (5000+ lines of Python for example). Komodo even has an emacs emulation mode which works pretty well but of course doesn't mimic emacs exactly.

The full edition of Komodo costs somewhere between $200 and $300 and is well worth the price in my opinion. That being said, I don't currently use it now - I almost exclusively use emacs these days. I would love to find a nice embedded Python debugger for emacs. . .

+1: I bought 3 licenses for the company, but I didn't upgrade anymore, because its a bit too slow on a mac for my taste. Since the I switched to textmate for programming and use Komodo as a python debugger if needed.

AdeptSQL Diff, a great tool for managing different database versions and pushing modifications on running databases.


Not strictly programming tools, but the Red Gate SQL Tools save loads of time and hassle maintaining databases. Well worth the money.

+1  A: 

Most my software is free but if it weren't I'd certainly pay for things such as Subversion and VIM.

Adam Gibbins

IntelliJ IDEA, Beyond Compare and UltraEdit -- all terrific tools.


dreamweaver because I can't stand to do css by hand



Its search capabilities for usage, type or filename is a big improvement over Visual Studio. It provides additional refactoring support that is very useful. Plus the hash marks it uses to indicate errors, warnings and info for the whole file at glance is cool.

I have not compared it to other addins, so I cannot say if it is better. I just tried it and liked it so much that I have not looked around.

Larry Fix
+1  A: 

I work in a Mac shop and we use Coda.

It is definitely worth it, especially for non-programmers who need 3-4 different tools to update their website. Great fully customizable syntax highlighting, even if you change the extension for your templates, for example. I wish it would run on PC.

+1  A: 

I'm considering buying Expression Blend so that I can quickly edit Silverlight xaml and share it with any designers that I work with. It's pretty inexpensive.


I have purchased Balsamiq which is a great tool for wire framing websites.

Else, nothing much else.

Eclipse, Apache Tomcat, Java, Spring, these pretty much save my pocket. :)


Visual Studio 200x and Beyond Compare 3.0 (Personally), MS Gold Partner for the Office.


Windows - for the purpose of debugging Web pages and plugins with its browsers.

Rich Apodaca
+3  A: 

LINQPad - Not just for developing LINQ stuff, can execute any arbitrary C#/VB.NET expressions and statements. Super helpful for exploring the classes and methods.

LINQPad is free.
Lucas B
@Lucas while LINQPad is free to download and use, purchasing the software enables Auto-Completion / IntelliSense. You really don't get the full product unless you pay to unlock it.
Excellent point! Sorry I missed that.
Lucas B
+1  A: 
  • My Eclipse
  • BeyondCompare
  • SQLyog Enterprise (great MySQL manager/query browser)
  • SnagIt
+2  A: 

Prince XML, which is expensive (at nearly US$3,800 for a server license but if you want a robust, fast, superb HTML to PDF converter that understands CSS2.1 (and even quite a few CSS3 features) then there is no other choice.

Prince XML even passes the Acid2 test.

Just look at the samples. It's a truly extraordinary piece of software.


Resharper. And worth every cent. I am not sure I completely agree (yet) with it's obsession with the use of 'var' (or at least how liberally is suggests it) but it rocks my world.

+1  A: 
  • TextMate
  • ZendStudio for Eclipse
  • VisualParadigm UML
+1  A: 
  • +1 for Komodo IDE. Just keeps getting better. On of the best features for me is the simple source control integration - now supports Perforce, cvs, svn, Bazaar, Hg and Git - phew - thats a lot of options. Day to day I use all cvs and svn for work stuff ( in the process of migrating to svn ) and Bazaar for personal stuff. Syntax highlighting for almost any file type. Nice plugin architecture and decent of available plugins to go with it.
  • BeyondCompare Best diff-merge tool you'll find for the money. The new Version 3 is fantastic.
  • SmartCVS - Great tool for managing CVS repositories. I'm liking it better than things like TortoiseCVS ( although thats also good) for its repository admin features. There is also SmartSVN - the same idea but fo Subversion.
  • SqlDbx - fast and lightweight Sql query analyser for multiple DBs. Works great for a most backends - just wish it had better DB2 support.

As other people mentioned I use:

  • VS2008 and VS 2005
  • Resharper (definitely pay for it)
  • SVN, Tortoise and Visual SVN
  • CCNET (free)

Over the last months I've been using dotTrace from JetBrains (definitely worh it as well). This is basically a .NET profiler like any other one you may have tried before but I though this one is heaps better! This is a tool which helps you to become a better coder. It's really easy to use and you can compare you code line by line and see what you can do to improve it.

I thought that SVN is free.
+4  A: 


If you ever inherit a mountain of legacy .NET code base and have trouble weeding through the hundreds of thousands of lines of code figuring what assemblies, namespaces, classes make use of what other assemblies, namespaces, classes.

+1  A: 

LINQPad with Intellisense. Very handy when working with Linqtosql.


Visual Studio 2005


Visual Assist Its brilliant intellisense allows me to concentrate on the logic instead of name of the variable, function parameters, variable scopes etc.


StrokeIt -- mouse gesture recognition engine and command processor

+4  A: 

Lots of Books!

The best tool out there that can teach you more every day.

Make your employer add a book budget in if you do not have it. I've never been turned down, they're cheap compared to standard training.

Plugin's I personally pay for: vimui -

and of course MSDN


TextMate because it is just so good and yet cheap.

Mateusz Kubiczek
+2  A: 

Most of the stuff we buy is big ticket items

  • JIRA because it works well.
  • Confluence for the same reason.
  • Adobe Design CS because we occasionally need to use Illustrator, Photoshop, and Acrobat.
  • RVDS because it makes our code run faster.

Pretty much everything else we use is free other than the obvious stuff like Visual Studio, XP, Leopard... We've got TextMate. Can't think of anything else off-hand, though I'm sure I'm missing something.

Airsource Ltd
+1  A: 

I bought a license for Textpad.


Hardware and Windows license, VS 2008, Visual Sourcesafe (Even though its not great), and TextPad..

Everything else i use is Open source..

+1  A: 

TextMate and VMWare Fusion

+1  A: 

I'm something of a tool junkie, I guess

  • Intellij
  • Ultraedit
  • SmartSVn & SmartCVS
  • Araxis Merge
  • JGSoft Regex Buddy & PowerGrep
  • SparxSystems Enterprise Architect
  • DbVisualizer
  • Structure101 (Headwaysoftware)
  • StylusStudio (XML editor, I use it for xslt transformations)
+1  A: 

Well I have a MSDN subscription of my own. Then I bought a copy of CodeSmith when I got tired of basically typing in the same thing over and over for some blocks of code I couldn't do any other way. Between the two, worth every penny.


Resharper / Beyond Compare / EMS MySql Manager / TDD.NET

  • FlexBuilder Standard
  • Adobe CS3 (Web Premium)
  • Visual Studio Pro & MSDN Premium (annually)
  • UltraEdit
  • FogBugz
  • Vault

.. and lots and lots of books! (And noise-canceling headphones, if those count.)

Christian Nunciato

TextMate just because it's a great text editor. I also use VMWare Fusion to run Visual Studio, so add that to the list.

Also, my Sennheiser HD580 headphones -- You wouldn't think so, but they're the most valuable programming tool in my arsenal. :)

Brant Bobby
  • MyEclipse
  • Advanced Find and Replace
  • Unfuddle

VB6.. back in the'day.

Kyle G
+1  A: 

We pay for Visual SlickEdit. It's one of the best text editors I've used for writing code, plus it works with a variety of programming languages (a requirement for us).

Jedidiah Thomet

Code Collaborator which is an awesome peer-review tool. Our team purchased seats for it, and it has been a huge assist in making peer-reviews painless and effective.


I like textpad. It has a nice simple interface and can record macros. It also can be set to highlight just about any language syntax.


Borland C++ Builder. I still find it better than the free MSVC.

  1. VisualSvn
  2. LLBLGEN (always good to have as another option to NHib)
  3. Monotouch

Thinking about grabbing a resharper licenese as well as an MS partner pack


+1  A: 

NDepend for .NET developers is a tool worth its price. NDepend helps .NET teams to manage large and complex code base. You can think that while Resharper focus on micro-flaws (inside methods) NDepend focuses on macro-flax (spaghetti codes).

NDepend comes with a dependency graph, a dependency matrix, a treemap/metric view, and a Code Query Language dedicated to explore the code base and it can diff 2 versions of a code base, see a few screenshots below:

alt text alt text alt text

Patrick Smacchia - NDepend dev