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In this article, we have demonstrated that many representative problems of optical technologies can be accurately and effectively solved with the commercially available FDTD software, provided that such software offers the flexibility applying partial analytical knowledge to the problems. This is the case with scalar 2-D or guided 2-D FDTD algorithms relevant to the analysis of PhCs or microstructured optical fibers, as well as periodic FDTD method applicable in the scatterometry of ICs. We have also demonstrated an effective approach of hybridizing the FDTD and scalar Fresnel approaches for accurate and effective modeling of lens imaging phenomena. We believe that further developments along these lines using FDTD methods, supported by the concurrent developments in computer technology, will lead to hybrid time-domain software tools becoming a breakthrough in optics and photonics.