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Non free software and ebay

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I've been restraining myself from spamming you with my ebay sales, but this one's actually gamedev related.

Bid early and bid often!

Given my previous lists of free stuff I use, I will now present my list of non-free stuff that I use even though there are free alternatives available. . .

Microsoft Office. Yes, I know that OpenOffice 2.0 is a hundred million times better than Microsoft Office. Unfortunately, it's not. While the deficiencies aren't enormous (except for the parts that aren't there, like an Outlook or Visio clone), Microsoft's product enjoys decades of polish and improvements that OpenOffice just doesn't have. And yes I know that StarOffice is about to celebrate its tenth birthday (mainly because I owned a source license to its foundation classes years before it went open source). Most of that ten years, though, has been spent making it a pixel-for-pixel clone of Office and catching up when there's a new release. Mind you, it's a good product. It's basically MS Office six years ago. MS Office six years ago was quite nice, but it's just not as good as MS Office today.

Paint Shop Pro. Again, I know that Gimp is a hojillion times better than PSP or Photoshop, as any Gimp fan who has no experience with the other two will boast. Again, though, it's not the case. The Gimp was designed and written by a hundred different people and it shows. And yes I'm also referring to the version that was reskinned to look more like Photoshop. It's not bad, but it ain't Photoshop or PSP. That doesn't make it bad, but it does keep it from being at the top of the heap.

Yeah, I did (with some trepidation) upgrade to PSP X with my remaining Best Buy Bux. Thus far it's a good upgrade. Nothing earth-shattering has been added, but nothing earth-shattering has been broken either. Performance was improved a bit, which was my only real complaint with PSP 9, but I don't think that's worth the price of an upgrade from version 9.

FrontPage and Dreamweaver. Yes I use both. Dreamweaver is clearly the more capable of the two products, but that's also its undoing in a way. It's huge and is designed to maintain large sites and supports all of the latest cascading styles and scripting beautifully. It also enforces all of that with a heavy hand. If I am, for example, writing a review for gamedev, I just want a simple and fast on-screen editor that'll do the simplest HTML formatting like bolding and italics and setting the proper sizes of pictures in your IMG SRC tag so that your page renders nicely, and FrontPage does that very well.

And yes, I do note the irony that I use FrontPage because it's smaller and faster and produces clean uncluttered HTML. The two biggest complaints that the pundits had about FP were that it's a giant lumbering beast and that it produces nightmarish HTML that'll only render on Microsoft's browser.

Also, FP has inline spell-checking (putting a squiggly line under misspelled words), which is a feature that I've grown so used to that I can't write without it. Despite Dreamweaver's bewildering number of features, it'll only spell-check the old 1980's way of pulling down the "spell check" option from the menu and having it step through all of your alleged errors.

Macromedia Flash Pro 8. There are some fairly compelling new tools for making flash applications in a more developer-friendly (read animator-unfriendly) way, like Flex Builder and MTASC/Eclipse, but I have grown to like the way Flash does things. I like building multiframe animations of game sprites and letting 'em animate themselves on the canvas. It's just nice.

(edit) In the "developer friendly Flash tools" arena, I just found out that NeoSwiff is outta beta. It's expensive at $595, but it's a pretty cool product. Basically it's a C# compiler and class library working under VS.NET that can target the Flash player. Neato.
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