I work as an Intermediate software developer for a company that primarily uses the Microsoft Stack. When a new employee starts they are given a virtual machine which has there standard tooling installed:

  • Visual Studio + Resharper
  • Sql Developer
  • Slack
  • SVN
  • Etc

Now, while i have no problems with these tools and revert to them for pair programming i prefer to use other tools most of the time and as such I've installed:

  • Emacs
  • Vim (Yes i know i installed both, lets move on)
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • Racket

Recently an IT guy (manager?) scanned my machine and was concerned that i installed these applications, he seems to think it indicates I'm a security threat. He asked me to explain why i used this and also informed my boss (The Software Development Director). There is no problem with us installing our own applications like Spotify, Jing, Vlc, etc. So he seems to think these programs / languages are somehow related to hackers/ing.

Luckily my Boss knew that i like to use these tools and he had no problem with them however i still needed to explain why i use them to the IT guy and he seems to want me to uninstall them, although he hasn't said this.

Finally, My question is: Is it unprofessional of me to install these tools given that no one else uses them here and that i was given different tools to work with? Also: should i uninstall them, or perhaps document why/how i use them?

  • 2
    @WesleyLong The languages were just for scripts i used to automate parts of my own workflows. The bulk of my work is still in C#.
    – axwr
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 2:04
  • 20
    I wouldn't worry about the opinion of an IT guy who thinks developer tools are somehow a security threat. You boss handled it, and all's well. Just move on
    – Rob
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 3:57
  • 12
    @Kilisi If a developer were sacked for installing extremely well known programming tools, it's probably for the best. I'd really like to see the argument coming from this 'IT guy', saying emacs is a security concern, yet VLC and Spotify are not.
    – Rob
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 4:04
  • 3
    Reading your question title I was thinking "No, of course not". But then I read you use emacs and vim. This is entirely unacceptable, you will have to choose the right editor for you. Oh, and of course emacs is insane and you should chose the one and only editor worth having: vim
    – dirkk
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 7:38
  • 2
    Did you get permission or at least inform your boss before you installed them? Then all you say to the IT guy is that you cleared all this with your boss, and it's between them and not you.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 12:17

3 Answers 3


Unless you have a strictly controlling IT dept whose objection is based on not going through their hoops to install them it shouldn't be a general professional issue. However you should confirm with someone (generally either in IT or your supervisor) that IT isn't going to make a big deal of it before you start installing stuff left and right.

Making an issue of it while pair programming would be problematic, but you said you're not doing that.

Unless you're asked to do so I don't see any general reason to writeup how the tools work. IF you end up building some sort of significant labor saving infrastructure/automation with them, that should be documented. But that would be equally the case if you built extra tooling using the standard software stack.


It's not inherently unprofessional to use whatever tools help you in your job.

There's nothing wrong with using a tool that no one else uses, per se. If something helps you be more productive in your work, then it is professional to use it (if allowed).

However, being able to work easily with others is a big factor to consider here. It's possible that tools increase you personal productivity, but lower the team productivity if they put up barriers to working together.

You are obviously aware of this issue (since you revert to the standard tools for pair programming), but make sure you have fully counted the cost of your way of working. Using a different text editor is probably no big deal, but is it really ok to use other languages like Python and Ruby? If you are writing code that no one else understands (even for quick utility scripts and the like), that may be more of a problem.

Company expectations and policies vary.

There are two different issues here: installing software on your machine yourself, and using software that is different from the team's standard. On both issues you will find company policies that vary from complete freedom to complete lockdown. And even if there is no formal policy, there might be informal expectations. Obviously you need to work within the boundaries set by your employer.

Have a chat with your boss to clarify expectations and the way forward.

Your boss already knows about this, which is good. But it would be good to check with him that really knows everything you are doing, he is truly happy with your way of working, and that you are not pushing the boundary here.

If your boss has no objection to what you do and is willing to back you up, then I would not worry about the IT guy.

  • I didn't think about the difference between policy and expectation, Thank you. I'm going to take your advice and check with my Boss just to make sure we're on the same page.
    – axwr
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 21:28

Yes, it's unprofessional to install programs without first consulting the IT dept. I'm not saying it's harmful, but anything on machines that is unknown to the IT people is a potential security concern. Quite possibly they have excellent reasons that you are unaware of.

  • 7
    If the IT department doesn't want you to install things, they should make it impossible to do so. Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 4:39
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    This is very company-specific, not universally true. Many employees (especially developers) have the freedom to install software as they see fit.
    – user45590
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 8:36
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    @dan1111 sure they do, but the professional thing to do is clear it, which is what I answered on, all these comments are fluff
    – Kilisi
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 8:43
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    Clearing it should be taken (I assume) as talking to them once about the overall policy? I know that IT here would be irritated if I had to ask to install every individual piece of software that I use. We have a "no one installs anything" policy at our company, but that does not extend to devs. We get a reallllly long leash, as our job sometimes requires non-standard software. IT would lose it if I were in there with "hey, I need codecompare, mind if I install it?" and "Oi, I need fiddler, you okay with that?" every time I needed something. Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 18:07
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    Any company that prevents the programmer from using his preferred tools has a broken IT policy. Ignore broken things and get your work done. Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 3:18

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