Investing in tools

On every project I've worked on, I've come to a point where performance or memory usage of the application is an issue. And every time, the company has no license for a profiling tool, nor do they want to invest in it.

Every time, we've had to resort ourselves to free trials of tools, which only last for a couple of days. When that trial period is over, and you encounter a similar problem 3 months later, you have to find a new tool with a trial period.

Also, depending on your skillset, it might take a while before you get up to speed with the tool.

All this inefficiency, to save a couple of bucks. These are the current prices of profiling tools:

  • JetBrains dotMemory and dotTrace (in a pack including other great tools like ReSharper): €239/year (second year free)
  • Redgate ANTS memory and profiler (in a pack): €895
  • Telerik JustTrace memory and profiler (in one application): €399

Those are some well-known products that I know of. The cheapest one of the three is Telerik's JustTrace, because JetBrains has a subscription model. On the other hand, the JetBrains option includes other great tools, including the superb ReSharper.

But for a company that wants to provide decent software, €239-€300 shouldn't be a big problem. Especially considering the time and money lost on finding the problem and solution without proper tools. Or worse, having these issues in production.

This is one of the advantages of going independent.

First of all, the cost isn't as big for my one-man company as it would be for my private funds.

Secondly, it makes me a better programmer, which makes it easier to sell myself. Tooling is important and makes you more efficient. A good profiler is one of those important tools. And now I can tell potential employers I come with these tools.

And finally, it's a much less frustrating way of finding bugs and problems in your code.

If you're an employee, I encourage you to request a license for this kind of tools. Maybe you will have more success when the need is urgent and you can explain how many lost hours you will spend or have spent. But if the company won't budge, it might be interesting to buy the license anyway. Even as an employee, you might be able to get tax reduction because it can be seen as a job-related expense. Don't quote me on that, but it might pay to contact a bookkeeper, your union, or maybe even the financial team of your company.