7 Software Development Tools Supercharging Developer Efficiency
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What Are Software Development Tools?
How to Choose the Best Software Development Tools for Your Team
Software development tools will revolutionize your workflows when implemented well but they can equally slow productivity when they're poorly chosen. Finding the best software for your developers, technologies, and organization has huge positive effects on your business. Finding out what those optimal tools are, however, isn't an easy task.
To help, we've created this guide to the most productive software development applications by polling high-performance teams to ask about the most essential programs they use daily. These include IDEs for programming such as IntelliJ, Sublime text, and Eclipse; tools to improve team communication and collaboration such as GitHub and Jira, alongside domain-specific packages for containerization and automation.
What all of these tools have in common is that they increase developer efficiency and enhance productivity in the hands of our software teams. For every category of tool included here, we've given both our flagship pick and some alternate choices to help you find the ideal package to meet your goals.
What Are Software Development Tools?
Software development tools include everything you use in your development environment to write, test, and publish your code to production. They include software for creating initial design sketches and planning documents to the build system used to test and run code in its environment.
Good software development tools enhance productivity, accuracy, and their parent organization long before the first lines of code are written on a project. In short, the best software development tools make engineering teams better at their role.
Choosing the right tools for your teams isn't as easy as it sounds, however. There are a lot of shifting variables to consider when narrowing down your software development tools list. These include developer familiarity, the technologies used, and institutional knowledge that already exists within your organization.
How to Choose the Best Software Development Tools for Your Team
Finding the best software development applications goes beyond looking at just the performance stats to consider how they will fit in with your specific teams and technologies. In real-world use, you have to consider how these technologies are going to fit in a much broader picture.
Consider the software solutions that are already in use within your team. What packages and ecosystems does your team already know? What tools would they benefit from learning for future projects? What's the best way to import that knowledge?
As an example, one of the most common mistakes made when considering these factors is putting too much weight on licensing costs for new tools. In reality, the cost of software licensing is often insignificant in comparison to the time and productivity it unlocks. For example, if a software package costs $50 per seat per month to license but saves a developer even 5% of their time then the amount saved on an average US Developer's salary is hundreds of dollars every month.
Pay particularly close attention to how a tool might assist scalability and flexibility in your team. These attributes are often key to supercharging your future success.
7 Best Software Development Tools for 2024
GitHub is the most widely used and essential software tool used by teams. The power-ups it enables for engineers include enabling close collaboration on development, tracking code changes, and maintaining software securely in the cloud. For teams, GitHub is one of the most productive and remarkable services there is.
The reason Github makes it to the top of our list is because if you could pick only one tool to use from all of our software development tools examples then this would be it. The platform's built-in capacity for pipeline automations, version control, security, and documentation make it an invaluable asset in any organization.
Add to this the broad familiarity it has with developers and the widespread outreach it has in the open-source community and it makes an ideal development companion. Modern add-ons to GitHub also include AI-powered assistance to speed up development through GitHub Copilot.
- Version control tools.
- Great security tools including 2FA.
- Project management tools to suit most projects.
- Collaboration through pull requests, issues, and discussions.
- Integrations with external CI/CD tools.
Pros of Github
- Free tier for developers and small organizations.
- Benefits from a large and highly active community.
- Robust branching and merging capabilities.
- Extensive high-quality documentation.
- Extensive integration with third-party tools.
- Modern AI tools to speed programming.
Cons of Github
- Limited sets of roles and permissions to choose from
- Steep learning curve for new users.
Alternatives to GitHub
- Gitlab: Offers integrated CI/CD, a container registry, and high-quality pipeline automations.
- Bitbucket: Provides Git and Mercurial repositories with excellent Jira integration.
Jira offers teams the most instantly recognizable and broadly familiar project management packages available today. Both feature-rich and easy to use, Jira offers an impressive set of tools for teams of any size to track progress, manage bugs, and maintain long-term software projects.
First launched in 2002, Jira has a long history of project management through various eras of technology and programming styles. Today, it's the default solution for many teams with almost 60% of professional developers using it in practice.
Jira's Key Features
- Scrum and Kanban boards built to serve agile teams.
- An outstanding suite of visualizations and reports for projects.
- Ticket-based system ensures thorough documentation.
- Excellent integration with CI/CD Tools.
Pros of Jira
- Advanced issue and project tracking.
- Report generating capabilities.
- Modern UI works well on desktop and mobile
- Highly customizable workflows and dashboards.
- Integration with various development tools.
Cons of Jira
- The large amounts of customization available can make it difficult to get started.
- Can be resource-intensive for small projects and teams.
Alternatives to Jira
- ClickUp: All-in-one project management solution with customizable features.
- Asana: A similar project management tool to Jira that prioritizes strong communication above all else.
- Trello: A lightweight project management tool that suits very small teams.
- Notion: A modernized productivity tool that is giving Atlassian tools some serious competition.
#3 Sublime Text
Sublime Text is a highly customizable text editor that's feature-rich, highly productive, yet surprisingly simple to use. One of its chief boasts is the ability to span multiple languages and technologies with ease while offering fully featured syntax highlighting, code refactoring, and debugging tools to developers.
Since Git Atom has been sunset at the end of 2022 few desktop-based editors offer so much lightweight freedom and flexibility to developers.
Key Features of Sublime Text
- Intuitive and easy-to-use interface that doesn't get in the way.
- Extensive IDE tools to support any language or technology.
- Git integrations to sync code with its repository.
- A lightweight approach to code editing — particularly next to other IDEs.
- Extensive community contributing add-ons and plugins.
Pros of Sublime Text
- Lightweight and customizable text editor.
- Extensive package ecosystem.
- Syntax highlighting for all technologies.
- Git integration and collaborative features.
Cons of Sublime Text
- Can suffer from performance issues when working with larger files.
- Limited built-in features compared to full IDEs.
Alternatives to Sublime Text
- Eclipse: Extensible IDE with a broad plugin ecosystem for languages and technologies.
- IntelliJ IDEA: Powerful IDE for Java development.
- Visual Studio Code: Lightweight yet feature-packed code editor.
Docker is the leading technology on the market when it comes to containerization. What Docker provides for developers is the ability to isolate the environment they build software in. This enables all of the libraries, supporting packages, infrastructure, and tools needed to run code to be bundled into a single shareable container.
Docker allows for these containers to be developed, shared, shipped, and run from anywhere — allowing infrastructure to be managed as easily as its application. For teams, this flexibility drastically reduces the shift between development and production environments while eliminating a vast number of potential errors and pitfalls that could crop up in the process.
Key Features of Docker
- Build once, run anywhere. A docker container should run anywhere, creating a truly isolated environment for software.
- Highly Scalable tooling. Containers are easy to scale up and down according to demand, making the software environment highly efficient.
- By being so highly modular, containers improve security and protect against widespread failure by isolating issues.
Pros of Docker
- Deployment will remain consistent regardless of the environment.
- Rapid application deployment and scaling.
- A highly efficient way to deploy quality software.
- More reliable way to debug, develop, and deploy software as the environment never changes.
Cons of Docker
- Steep learning curve for teams new to containerization.
- Limited support for Windows containers.
- Managing large numbers of containers can quickly become a pressing challenge.
Alternatives to Docker
- Kubernetes: Orchestration tool for managing containerized applications.
- OpenVZ: An entirely open OS virtualization technology for Linux.
Figma is an interface design and mockup tool essential to sharing ideas within a team and collaborating on them with clients. According to many of our design experts, it may well be the best product design tool currently available. It's unquestionably one of the most capable out there in allowing designers to create and share their vision for an application's UI/UX with ease.
Whether creating high-fidelity prototypes or low-fidelity sketches, software like Figma is an essential part of realizing, understanding, and sharing an application's design.
Key Features of Figma
- Allows collaboration on a file in real-time using cloud-based tools.
- A strong set of CAD tools.
- A rich array of import/export functionality.
- Provides space for shareholders to put notes and comments on design.
- Animation capabilities.
Pros of Figma
- Cloud-based real-time collaboration.
- Simple fast file sharing.
- Prototyping and design handoff features.
- Extensive plugin ecosystem.
Cons of Figma
- Internet connection dependency.
- Resource-intensive software.
- Limited offline functionality.
Alternatives to Figma
- Balsamiq: Rapid wireframing tool for low-fidelity wireframe designs.
- InVsion: A visual collaboration platform designed for visual workflows
- Adobe XD: A heavyweight visual design tool for teams
Jenkins provides developers with one of the most widely appreciated open-source automation servers available to developers right now. In simple terms, Jenkins escalates the quality and reliability of software produced using its tools by a significant margin.
By providing an automated environment for building and testing software daily, Jenkins provides developers with a road map to creating high-quality software through continuous integration. In daily use, few tools do as much to ensure the longevity or performance of software as Jenkins does for teams.
Key Features of Jenkins
- Continuous integration and continuous delivery tools.
- Highly extensible with a large community ecosystem.
- Free and entirely open source solution.
- Relatively easy to set up and get started.
Pros of Jenkins
- Extensive plugin ecosystem.
- Wide community support.
- Distributed architecture promotes a high degree of scalability.
- Flexible workflows for any use case.
- Configurable and extensible automation.
Cons of Jenkins
- Complex setup and configuration.
- Older interface design.
Alternatives to Jenkins
- Ansible: Automation tool for configuration management and application deployment.
- Gitlab: Pipelines integrated into Gitlab offer a strong suite of deployment automation
- Travis CI: A highly capable CI service used to build and test software automatically
KeePass is an open-source password manager for creating, maintaining, and sharing secure credentials. While password management software isn't directly tied to software development — it's a tool that developers can't do without.
Software developers will need many accounts and credentials spread across multiple applications and services. Managing them well is key to daily efficiency.
Keepass allows developers to maintain their own secure credentials in local storage and share secure databases of application credentials locally to ensure everyone can maintain access to systems and software they need to use.
Features of KeePass
- Several layers of security with options for user keys and passwords.
- Password generator to create secure passwords.
- Rich plugin ecosystem.
- Auto-type to save time filling out web forms and logins.
- Desktop, mobile app, and browser extension for ease of access.
Pros of KeePass
- Completely Open-source password manager.
- Full control over your data at every stage.
- Lots of available plugins and add-ons.
- Two-factor authentication.
- Secure storage and generation of complex passwords.
Cons of KeePass
- Less user-friendly interface.
- Limited feature set without plugins.
- No Application support.
- Syncing across devices may require additional setup.
Alternatives to KeePass
- LastPass: A commercially available password manager with improved sync features.
- 1Password: A multi-platform commercial password manager developed by AgileBits.
Why the Right Tools Matter
Having the right tools on hand to kick off a project will streamline workflows, reduce errors, improve software, and enhance collaboration within teams. The right tools contribute to better code quality and overall success while the wrong choices slow down progress.
Choosing the Best Tools for Your Project
Tailor the tools you select as closely as you can to your project requirements, expertise, and long-term goals. If longevity is a key priority, for example, pick out tools that work towards that goal such as high-quality CI/CD software, and ensure you have the expertise and experience on-side to manage it.
If this is something you've struggled with in the past then we can help you get it right today. Our teams routinely offer expert guidance in selecting, implementing, and optimizing software development for the specific goals organizations aim to hit,
To benefit from their guidance fill out a brief and tell us about your goals — we'll find a team with the right skill set, tools, and expertise to make the difference in a flash.
What Are SDE Tools?
Software Development Environment (SDE) tools include all the applications necessary to design, develop, test, deploy, manage, and maintain software development projects. These tools assist developers, designers, and project managers by streamlining the process to create high-quality software for their clients.
SDE tools can have a broad range of goals from enhancing communication within a project, to improving code quality, collaboration, or collecting feedback from end users. The best SDE tools for teams should enhance their workflows, reduce the amount of cognitive work necessary to complete tasks, and ensure things run more smoothly than they would without access to the same tools.
What Are Developer Tools in Application Software?
Developer tools are software packages that assist programmers in building, debugging, and testing applications in a development environment. Some of the most common developer tools are integrated development environments (IDEs) that allow programmers to write and debug code rapidly with features that improve code quality.
Tools that developers commonly lean on include code completion, performance profiling, version control, and Lint applications to enhance the quality and readability of their code.
What is Tooling in Software Development?
In software development, tooling refers to everything needed to build software starting from scratch. This includes physical items like the computer itself, keyboard, and build server. Software applications used in this process would include the integrated development environment (IDE), profiling tools, testing framework, and build server software amongst others.
Assembling the right tools for your software development team is crucial to success — enabling a greater deal of efficiency and productivity than would otherwise be possible.