Writing code is only one part of the developer experience. One minute you get swamped with web development tasks and the next you’re in a team meeting. The best developer tools will help you manage every aspect of your job, from writing code to managing project workflows and checking backend website functionality. The 10 developer tools below will help you maximize your productivity across all of your responsibilities. Consider them a pack of apps that every programmer can use to be more efficient, whether writing code or just talking about it.
What Makes a Good Developer Tool? Who Is This List For?
If you were to take a random survey of 100 developers asking them about their favorite tools, you’d likely get 100 different tools back. Obviously, that can create quite a bit of contention. So to pick out these 10 recommended developer tools, we decided to break them up into different sections to include a wide variety of tools instead of just a string of command line utilities. In this roundup, we focused on three specific sections:
These tool categories are perfect for a full stack developer that needs to get the job done in more ways than just pumping out source code.
10 Developer Tools You Should Be Aware Of
Chrome Dev Tools
The Noun Project
The Best Source Workflow Developer Tools
Best social coding and code sharing platform
If you publish your code publically, GitHub contributors can conduct pull requests to submit patches on your coding. If you approve it or get approved, you’ll earn credit on that project and your GitHub profile. So hands down, GitHub is the most popular git repository online. It’s perhaps the best social coding platform out there to boot.
And the future of GitHub looks secure as well. It was acquired by Microsoft in mid-2018, with immediate promises to reverse some of the momentum-killing trends that the site has seen lately. While it’s always been a great platform, Microsoft aims to secure it as a platform that continuously empowers developers at every level.
GitHub Pricing: Free for unlimited public repositories. Developer plan starting at $7 per month for unlimited repositories (public and private) and unlimited collaborators. Free for students.
For a deeper dive into GitHub, check out our GitHub review where we discuss its features and pricing model.
Best for project/repository team collaboration
The biggest pro in Bitbucket’s favor is that the same parent company, Atlassian, owns Trello and Bitbucket, which makes it a developer collaboration dream. If you already use Trello, you can start utilizing Trello boards directly within the platform. That means you get unrivaled project workflows where you can even associate your code with specific tasks.
You can also use a project focused dashboard, which lets you organize your different repositories into separate sections and projects, even restricting access to particular teams and permissions. With the addition of boards and project-based repositories, collaboration is the bread and butter of Bitbucket.
Besides that, Bitbucket supports multiple add-ons that allows you to complete a multitude of tasks on the platform. Kanban boards help your team track and resolve issues. Or, you can track how much each of your developers contributes to a project. You can even render and edit 3D objects if you need to.
And on top of everything, Bitbucket works seamlessly with Slack to help communication flow freely between developers on your team. It also allows you to send and receive push notifications about important updates in Bitbucket. And you can send "shmentions" (or shhh mentions) that provide important references in Slack without spamming everyone with notifications. This is a great feature to keep your team in the loop without overwhelming or distracting them.
Bitbucket Pricing: Free for Small Teams plan for up to 5 users with full features and $10/month Growing Teams plan for up to 10 users.
For a deeper dive into Bitbucket, check out our Bitbucket review where we discuss its features and pricing model.
Best for streamlined development using Auto DevOps
GitLab offers developers a unique streamlined development experience. With their "Auto DevOps" platform, you get the benefits of dozens of tools in a single package that automates tons of manual work that you hate. It’s not just an SCM (source code management tool). It’s not just a builder. It’s everything you look for in a full stack without having to jump from program to program.
If you choose to use Gitlab, you’ll have access to syntax themes, a built-in Docker registry, continuous integration capabilities, helpful wikis, markdown-based readmes, and third-party integrations that expand your capabilities even further. And since they’re one of the oldest git hosting providers on the market, there’s a good chance that any public contributions to your git are going to be solid.
And the cherry on top? It’s incredibly easy to use, and it’s UI/UX friendly. It took us just minutes to set up an account, create a project, add team members, and automate the DevOps cycle.
GitLab Pricing: Free plan available for self-managed and GitLab hosting as well as upgradeable starter plan starting at $4 per user per month.
Best for open source automation and building at scale
Jenkins is a popular open-source automation server that’s used by many teams to help deploy their projects. Its main goal is to create an easy to reference source that helps you find and fix bugs in your build. And since it boasts the ability to pair with hundreds of plugins, you can tack, analyze, and fix just about anything.
Jenkins works by grabbing your code from the shared source, which then triggers a new build. When it creates the build, you get a simple email notification pointing you to any code errors, which can potentially save you dozens of hours a week on searching for broken code. It’s easy to install and use, and it even gives you preset plugins to download to get started.
Jenkins Pricing: Free
The Best Project Workflow Developer Tools
Best bug and issue tracker for all experience levels
Sifter is one of the best issue tracking software out there, whether you're a beginner or advanced. Typical issue tracking and monitoring tools are often more complicated than they need to be. Issues crop up on projects and subprojects daily, and even if you're almost ready for launch, there is likely a pile of issues that still need fixing.
The trouble then becomes maintaining projects with proper information, assignees, and collaboration. That’s where Sifter excels and is why we chose it as a top ten tool: it brings all of these complex and pertinent issues into a simple platform. The process to create an issue is just a few simple clicks: Fill out a subject and description, attach your screenshots or docs, and then assign them to your team members with a category and project. With their "Audit Trails" technology, you’ll get a fresh feed of changes that you make on issues allowing you to know exactly which team member did what and when. That means you can process out your issues to give clear guidance to new members in the future.
It’s that easy to manage new issues and ensure that they get addressed. And since it integrates with your favorite applications like Slack, GitHub, and Bitbucket, you have no shortage of automation to run too.
Sifter Pricing: Plans starting from $29/month for 10 active projects, 10 GB storage, unlimited users, and same day support.
Best for small teams looking for simple, collaborative task management
Issues can arise in dev work faster than in just about any other industry. Due dates get moved around like they’re nothing, which throws a giant monkey wrench in your schedule. On top of that, new additions or small side projects get added out of thin air from brainstorming sessions.
Keeping track of everything and their due dates is virtually impossible without a project workflow tool. Yet most project management solutions can’t offer you a simple way to collaborate on projects and share common notes and due dates with clients or coworkers. That’s where Asana comes in. Asana’s easy to use interface helps you plan out tasks on a single comprehensive dashboard.
On your dashboard, you can manage projects that normally would take multiple tools to do. For instance, you can message your team members or view their daily tasks by clicking on their profiles. Your project pipeline is always available on the left-hand side for quick access. Upon loading, your daily task view is front and center letting you know if other team members have assigned you new tasks and what you have on your plate today.
No more shuffling around your notes to figure out what was on your agenda for the day or if that task was meant for you. Need to add notes to a project? Start a new conversation with any team and link it directly to a specific task or project:
Conducting dev projects with multiple devs? Assign them to individual subtasks within a project and allow them to add comments and mark the subtask complete.
Asana is like Google Calendar, Trello, and Pipefy combined into a simple project workflow solution with all of the features you need.
Asana Pricing: Free with unlimited tasks, projects, and conversations for up to 15 team members. Premium and Enterprise plans available from $9.99 per user per month.
For a deeper dive into Asana, check out our Asana review where we discuss its features and pricing model.
The Best Website Development Support Tools
Best for building responsive, mobile-first sites.
Bootstrap is a web developer tool geared toward developers looking to produce mobile-responsive or mobile-first design, a critical component in marketing today. As an open source kit for HTML, CSS, and JS, you can get started on projects from testing to full-on app development. With custom examples, you can quickly get familiar with Bootstrap and edit/modify existing base templates.
And because Bootstrap was built to be responsive and mobile-friendly, it utilizes a grid system containing responsive classes (rather than tables), allowing page elements that you use to scale in size. All of the templates and examples scale to any mobile device size, perfectly adjusting elements as you shrink or expand.
In our testing, we confirmed what many others would echo in regards to Bootstrap: It is extremely easy to use, learn, and develop beautiful, responsive web pages. With a vast array of support docs, creating a web page takes minimal lines of coding to look stunning.
Bootstrap Pricing: Free
Best for plugin based debugging and **visual confirmation
Chrome DevTools is one of the easiest ways to debug on the spot and receive visual confirmation of your efforts before pushing changes live on your server. With the ability to inspect source code on live web pages and making adjustments on the fly, you can see what line of code worked, failed, or just didn’t satisfy. The built-in debugging makes it easy to diagnose issues you need to fix, and you never have to refresh to see changes, which means quick edits in real-time. Using Device Mode, you can test code changes and visualize them on any modern device.
Chrome Dev Tools Pricing: Free
The best place to source icons for web development
Developing a website is more than just writing lines and lines of code. It’s about telling a story and crafting a site that brings that story to life. Beautifully made sites have seamless design elements, from windows to page breaks to interactive features and icons.
If you’re looking for a vast library to source your icons for web development, look no further than The Noun Project. We chose The Noun Project as a top website developer support tool because it contains over a million icons created by community members. The library grows every day.
Whether you’re developing a site for medical, construction, marketing, or any other industry, you can find icons to bring your work to life. The Noun Project’s royalty-free icons (available in PNG and SVG file formats) can be customized to fit any scale, allowing you to edit colors, backgrounds, and more.
The Noun Project Pricing: $9.99/month or $39.99/year for Noun Pro. Other plans are available for teams and education.
Best for learning and advancing your career in development
As a developer, you never stop learning. There are always ways to progress your skills or learn new tricks of the trade. But finding credible sources to turn back to that are free is difficult. Thankfully, there's Stack Overflow. The online community has over 50 million developers posting on forums, sharing their knowledge with others, and providing the right learning materials for those looking to expand their portfolio.
Like Quora, Stack Overflow lets you post your questions and get fast answers on anything from utilizing jQuery to setting environment variables in Jenkins.io. You can also follow new posts by marking topics, which ensures you stay in the loop. There is no better place to learn, share knowledge, and advance your career in development than Stack Overflow.
Stack Overflow Pricing: Free
No matter what you are working on in development, a good set of tools can help you get the job done faster and more efficiently with fewer hiccups. For a complete stack, pick up some of these tools for website development, project management, and source workflows. Better yet, combine them for more efficient development and leave the days of juggling your efforts behind you.
Title image by Freepick