Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash “Why should I pay money for this tool? I’m a developer, I can write this myself!” This is what many developers, Microsoft Access developers in particular, think. – I did so myself. While this is basically true, it is also very wrong to think that way. I wrote several tools and applications for my business. Here are just a few examples: A simple accounting database which became obsolete, when my business became required to do double entry bookkeeping and I didn’t get to extend my application.A bug tracking web app, which was very useful 15 years ago when I started it but is too ugly and lacking too many features to let employees, partners and clients use it today. We replaced it by a commercial solution now.A billing application to track time and create invoices based on those records. I still use it to create invoices and I hate it because it is difficult to use and lacking a lot of features. Was I too incompetent to make these applications better? – I don’t think so. I simply did not have time to put more work into these applications to make them better or even maintain them long-term. And that is ok. These were applications for standard processes. Writing such applications is not our core business. The mistake was that I tried to create these applications in the first place. Value your time! So, you don’t want to spend the money to buy a software application or a tool? You think, you can do it yourself and don’t need to pay a penny? – You do not value your time enough! How much do you or your employer charge per hour? 25 EUR, 50 EUR, or 100 EUR? – Even if it is just 25 EUR you would earn 200 EUR in an 8-hour workday. Now, ask yourself: What kind of application or tool can you build in just one day? And which quality standards would you reach? Would a similar tool cost more than 200 EUR to buy? – I’m certain, the answer is: No! Image by nile from Pixabay So, save your time and your money and buy a tool instead of writing one. If someone earns money with building and selling software, they have an interest to improve the tool and make it better. You’ll get a much better product than you would be able to build yourself in reasonable time. You don’t need to take care of maintenance yourself. Free open source tools What about free open source tools? If there is an open source tool to do the task at hand, check it out. There are many great open source applications with a thriving community of contributors. If you find such a tool, which is fulfilling your requirements, by all means use it! There are also many open source applications that were released as “works for me” by its developer and then left in that state without any further maintenance. – The majority of free Access tools are in this category. – Maybe they work for you too, maybe not. Maybe you can make them work for you when you invest some time and effort. – But keep the value of your time in mind! We don’t use third-party developer tools at all I worked in a couple of projects where the philosophy was just to use plain Access without any third-party tools for Access development. The reasoning was, that every developer would be able to work at each computer with a default Microsoft Office installation and it would reduce administrative effort and the time developers would need to get used to specific tools. – This is so stupid! Today I would outright refuse to work without a basic set of tools. Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash The Microsoft Access and VBA development environment is lacking quite a few features which are increasing productivity and are common in other development environments today. Developers, regardless whether employees or external consultants, are an expensive resource. Deliberately denying them additional tools to increase their productivity is throwing away money. When to build? So, am I saying you should never build a tool or application yourself? No, certainly not. Just evaluate carefully what you want to build and why you want to build it. Here are some valid reasons to build a tool yourself: You did some research and you are reasonably sure there is no ready-made tools available for what you want to achieve. Then it might make sense to build one. Even a quick-and-dirty tool you are able build in a couple of hours or days is better than no tool at all.You find want to learn a new technology or investigate a topic by building a tool with it or for it. The process of building it and learning on the way is more important to you than the resulting tool itself. Go ahead. It does not matter too much how the resulting tool will turn out. You will gain knowledge and experience in the process. Learning new stuff is priceless.You really want to build a tool. Not because you need it for some task, but because you want to go through the full process of creating a software application that is used by others without your direct support during installation and initial operation. You should be aware that this involves much more work than just getting a tool to “works for me”-state. There may be many scenarios and issues someone else will encounter you can’t even think of at the beginning. It will be a much longer and more tedious process to get a product to a distributable state than you expect. If any of the above scenarios fits your situation, then do it. But don’t build a tool just to save some money. It is not going to work out that way. Am I Biased? I am selling tools for developers. Am I biased in telling you all the above? Yes, I certainly am. – But I also got more than 20 years of experience in software development. I wrote countless technical articles and recorded dozens of tutorial videos sharing my experience and technical expertise, which are all available for free. I made, or was involved, in all the mistakes and incorrect assumptions mentioned above. This text reflects my experiences and those are what I want to share here. Conclusion Don’t make the mistake of wasting your time to build a tool or application yourself, when you can save a lot of time and money by buying a ready-made tool.