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Jolt Awards 2014: The Best Programmer Libraries

, April 22, 2014 Astonishing collections of software bundled with superb design and coding tools
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Programmer libraries these days are astonishing collections of software: not only vast amounts of functionality, but, as many of the images in this slide deck illustrate, they come bundled with superb design and coding tools. This a far cry from the libraries of even ten years ago, when libraries were much more narrowly focused. Today, they are all rambling, omnibus offerings.

What they do lack, however, is portability. Almost all the libraries we examined in this round were Windows-only products. This disappointing platform-centrism is purely the result of the economics: Development organizations on Windows are willing to pay for their products, while those on other platforms (notably Linux and Java) have a deeply entrenched tradition of free, generally open-source, products. The dollars surely make a difference, as we can see by the quality of the offerings, especially Windows UX suites and their extraordinary range of features.

We evaluated nearly 20 nominees and ultimately chose seven finalists, which we then looked at in great depth. The vote tally ranked the top six products as follows: three finalists, two runners up who are awarded the Jolt Productivity Award, and finally, the winner of the Jolt Award for best programmer library released during the last 12 months. The write-ups  are presented in that order here. Unlike last year, in which the voting was very close, the Jolt Award winner this year led the field by a sizable margin — a comparatively rare occurrence.

The judges in this category were: Mike Riley, Gary Evans, Gaston Hillar, Robert DelRossi, and Andrew Binstock.

Before we get to the winners, we would like to thank our Jolt sponsors: Rackspace for providing virtual machines for testing, and Safari Books Online for enabling online access to innumerable texts and resources that helped us look up items we needed to check on.

To the envelopes, then…

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