Rachel Kroll asked an interesting question the other day:
For those people who have worked at multiple companies and thus have left a couple of jobs over the years, do you ever think about stuff you miss? These are the internal systems, build environments, tools, features, or other neato things that you had which made your job easier, better, faster, or maybe even possible… but which didn't exist on the outside world.
Thinking through all the places I've worked as a developer over the years, from an appliance repair shop to a printing shop1 to language schools2, plus a myriad of organisations I've worked with on a freelance basis, I can honestly answer "no" to the question as it's presented. The vast majority of the things I've worked with have either been publicly available3, supplied by me, or written by me … which is probably not something to be proud of. What I do miss about many of the places that I've worked at (or with) are the people.
If we're lucky, every place we've worked has had at least one person we've looked up to, learned from, or just plain enjoyed being around. Even as a freelancer, there are certain clients who are an absolute joy to work with. For me it's the people who give me a reason to get to work on time and give it my all, learning new and interesting things from them along the way.
Often times when I think it's time to move on to another type of company to take on a completely different set of challenges, I think about the people that I would be leaving behind and reconsider. Sure, there's email and social places available to maintain relationships, but it's not the same as when you're working together towards a common set of goals.
Internal systems, build environments, tools, features, and other neato things that are unique to an organisation are certainly nice to have, but they're not something I think I'd ever miss. Mind you, I've not worked for organisations that are even half as well known or respected as the ones Ms. Kroll has. Perhaps with more exposure to the various tools that companies use internally, I'd find a reason to miss something.
Not sure "shop" is the best way to describe the company, given they employed 400 people and had customers all over North America.
There are other places I've worked at, but these are the ones at each major geographic location I've lived where I've worked the longest.
Available either commercially or free.