15 of the best software development tools for 2019

Software developers have very little time on their hands, and it shouldn't be wasted on mundane tasks. These tools will make your workflow efficient.
Jan 23, 2020 • 5 minute read
Adam Smith @HomebrandAdam
Technical Co-pilot
Cover photo for 15 of the best software development tools for 2019

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Good tools make software development more efficient and less prone to bugs. Here are some of the best

While it's the poor workman who blames his tools, let's get real: if your tools suck, it's likely your finished product will too. This holds true in just about every discipline, including software development.

Fortunately, there's no shortage of tools available for programmers. But it's easy to be paralyzed by the sheer volume of development tools vying for your attention (and sometimes money). We've sorted through and come up with 15 of our favorites. 

Best code editing tools

Software development all comes down to your code. Sure, you could choose just about any text editor or integrated development environment (IDE) for coding, but these tools will help you work faster and with fewer mistakes.

1. Atom

Atom is a text editor that supports Windows, Linux and Mac OS. It's open-source, which is a big plus, and it has embedded Git Control. It has all the usual features of a good text editor: smart autocomplete, find and replace, a built-in package manager and the ability to work across multiple panes. But what we like about Atom is the ability to customize it to your tastes.

Atom comes pre-loaded with four different UI themes and eight syntax themes, but you can create your own theme or browse some created by the text editor's active developer community. There's also a huge library of plugins. Moreover, if you don't find what you're looking for, you can create it in HTML and JavaScript.

2. NetBeans

NetBeans is another open-source tool, and it's a true IDE with debugging and compiling. While NetBeans is the official IDE of Java 8, you can also code in PHP or C++. It helps you organize your project and integrates with Git for version control. And, as any good Java application does, it runs on Windows, Mac or Linux.

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3. Komodo

Komodo isn't free, though it does offer an open-source text editor tool. What you get for your money, though, is support for just about any language you want to use, including Perl, Python, Ruby, PHP, Java, C++, Visual Basic (seriously. Visual Basic) and more.

Sure, all the regular features are here. There's autocomplete, a customizable interface and a project manager. But by upgrading from open-source, you also get unit testing, live previewing, a dependency detector, universal package management, visual debugging and code refactoring. And that's just scratching the surface of Komodo IDE's features. If you're looking for a powerful, full-featured IDE, Komodo is one of the best.

Best code documentation tools

A good developer makes sure to document. It's not just a useful tool for any other developers who need to understand your code. It also helps refresh your memory when you need to return to a project you've left on the back burner.

4. Haroopad

Haroopad runs on Windows, Mac OS, Ubuntu and Linux, and lets you create documentation in formats as varied as slide decks and blog posts to emails and flowcharts. It supports Markdown, and you can choose a variety of themes. You can publish to Evernote, Wordpress, Tumblr and MediaWiki, and can export to PDF, RTF or EPub. It even supports MathJax for mathematical expressions. And it's open-source. 

5. SimpleMDE

SimpleMDE is a JavaScript markdown editor that renders your markdown while you write to show you the expected result. It also has built-in spell check and an autosave feature. Our favorite feature of SimpleMDE is the UI, which is built like a WYSIWYG editor. It makes documentation a more comfortable process for those who might not be experienced in markdown.

Best code review tools

Even the best software developers make mistakes. These tools will make sure those mistakes don't become fatal errors.

6. Barkeep

Barkeep bills itself as the "friendly code review system," and it's actually an apt description. The open-source tool has an easy-to-navigate UI, and allows you to view the commits made to any Git repository. You can email committers, view diffs and comment.

7. Gerrit

Gerrit is an open-source tool from Google is great for team collaboration. It integrates with Git to let your team review diffs in a side-by-side view, and allows for inline commenting. Changes can be viewed on a web browser, and authorized contributors can merge changes into the Git repository once they've been reviewed. 

Best framework tools

Frameworks can massively improve your productivity and cut through a lot of the drudgery in coding. Here are a few of our favorites.

8. AngularJS

AngularJS is great for web development. The JavaScript framework lets you use HTML to define a web app's UI by extending HTML's syntax. This means you can code a UI in a more declarative way that's easy to understand for non-developers working on your project.

9. Phalcon

Phalcon gets the best out of much-maligned PHP by moving lightning fast with much better memory utilization than other PHP frameworks. It's written in C so it's highly customizable, but you don't have to know C to work with Phalcon. Laravel tends to be one of the most popular PHP frameworks, but for speed and power, our money is on Phalcon.

Best source control tools

Tracking changes to your code is crucial even if you're coding solo. It becomes even more important if you're working in a team. These tools will help you keep track of all your branches and diffs.

10. AWS CodeCommit

AWS CodeCommit is fully managed code control, meaning you don't have to host and maintain your own source control servers. It allows for easy collaboration with branching, merging, pull requests and code reviews, and seamlessly integrates with existing Git tools. You can also use your preferred IDE and all its plugins.

11. Plastic SCM

Plastic SCM is great for distributed teams. Developers can bypass using VPNs and instead pull and push changes to any Plastic server. It also uses a clean, easy-to-navigate UI that allows even non-developers to understand version control. The tools has side-by-side diff views and built-in code review as well.

Best productivity tools

Software development requires some pretty keen organizational skills. Having the right tools can help you code smarter and faster.

12. Jira

Jira has quickly become the industry standard for software development project management. It allows you to customize your workflow and keep track of every issue your team is working on. It's easy to assign tasks and keep track of where code is in the development cycle. To get the most out of Jira, choose the "Agile" template for your project management board.

13. Slack

If there's a better enterprise messaging software out there, we haven't found it. Slack is a great system for keeping everyone involved with your project on the same page. Its best feature is its integration with just about every development tool you can imagine to send automated messages that update you on the progress of all your projects.

Best learning tools

Learning to code is a lifelong process. No matter how good and efficient you become, new technology means you'll continue to evolve as a developer. These tools help you keep your skills sharp and your talents marketable.

14. Coursera

Coursera has partnered with higher learning institutions around the world to provide online access to courses. While you can actually get a degree from certain institutions through Coursera, it's also great for continuing education. There are plenty of high quality computer science courses available, and while some might not offer much in the way of official certification, they'll certainly help you build your skills.

15. Devslopes

Devslopes is online learning specifically targeted at developers. Its strength is its agility in keeping up with new trends in tech. Devslopes courses favor newer technologies and programming languages like Swift and Kotlin. You can learn standard computer science and development, but also dabble in areas like machine learning and blockchain.

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