Published Nov 12, 2023 ⦁ 12 min read

List of development tools to boost productivity


Developers today have access to a staggering array of tools to improve productivity and streamline workflows. With new tools emerging constantly, it can be overwhelming to determine which ones are worth adopting. This article covers some of the top developer tools across key categories like IDEs, source control, collaboration, debugging, testing, and databases.

The right tools can help developers code more efficiently, enable seamless team collaboration, improve product quality through extensive testing, and simplify complicated workflows. Evaluating and choosing tools that fit your work style, technology stack, and team culture is essential to boosting productivity as a developer.

So read on to explore some excellent options that will streamline your workflows and help you work smarter!

Integrated Development Environments

IDEs or Integrated Development Environments are indispensable for modern software development. They streamline coding with features like intelligent code completion, visual debugging, project management, and more. Some popular cross-platform IDEs include:

  • Visual Studio Code - A lightweight yet full-featured editor with thousands of extensions. It offers lightning fast performance and is free.

  • IntelliJ IDEA - An intelligent IDE optimized for JVM languages like Java and Kotlin. It has excellent code assistance and powerful refactoring tools.

  • Eclipse - An open source IDE with an extensible plug-in system. It has diverse language support and advanced debugging capabilities.

  • PyCharm - A Python-focused IDE providing tools for web development, database access, testing, and scientific tools.

  • RStudio - An open-source IDE tailored for the R programming language with tools for plotting, debugging, and workspace management.

  • WebStorm - Specialized IDE for modern JavaScript development with Node.js, React, Angular, and more.

IDEs improve developer productivity by providing integrated tools instead of having to stitch together disparate applications. When choosing an IDE, consider the language ecosystem, customizability, platform support, community, licensing, and cost. Most IDEs support extensions or plugins to augment their functionality too.

Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code has quickly become one of the most popular lightweight code editors. Its rich feature set, superb performance, and open source nature make it a favorite among developers.

Some notable features include:

  • IntelliSense for smart code completion and useful hints.

  • Built-in Git support with diff viewing and branching tools.

  • Streamlined debugging with breakpoints, call stacks, and an interactive console.

  • Extensive customization options and theming.

  • A huge extension marketplace with over 25K plugins.

VS Code runs on Windows, Linux, and macOS. The editor is highly customizable and supports a wide array of programming languages. With its active open source development, VS Code continues to improve rapidly.


PyCharm is an excellent IDE tailored specifically for Python development. It provides a rich set of capabilities:

  • Intelligent code editor with on-the-fly error checking and quick fixes.

  • Visual debugger to control program execution and inspect data.

  • Integration with major VCS/SVN, REST clients, SQL databases, Jupyter notebooks, and more.

  • Tools for web development, including JavaScript, TypeScript, Node.js, and frameworks like Django.

  • Powerful refactoring and code analysis to find bugs and improve quality.

  • AI-assisted coding, predictive typing, and an array of professional tools.

PyCharm comes in community and professional editions. The professional version offers advanced features like database management, remote development, profiling, and scientific tools. With its vast capabilities and intelligent assistance, PyCharm turbocharges Python development.

Source Control Systems

Source control systems are essential for managing code revisions and enabling collaboration during software development. Some popular options include:

  • Git - A distributed source control system that is versatile, performant, and widely used.

  • Subversion (SVN) - A centralized system that enables concurrent development and delegation of permissions.

  • Mercurial - A cross-platform distributed source control tool that is fast and scalable.

  • Perforce Helix Core - An enterprise-grade centralized system with advanced branching and versioning capabilities.

Choosing between distributed vs centralized systems depends on team size and preferences. But using any modern source control system can greatly improve team workflows. They make it easy to track changes, merge code from multiple developers, maintain revision history, and recover from errors. Many IDEs also integrate tightly with source control tools.


Git has become the de facto standard for source control due to its unique distributed architecture and non-linear development workflows. Notable features and benefits include:

  • Efficient handling of both small and large projects with speed and minimal overhead.

  • Powerful branching capabilities to support concurrent development and collaboration between developers.

  • Flexibility in committing workflow with local repositories and offline development.

  • Ability to create pull requests to propose and review code changes before merging into the main branch.

  • Strong community support across major platforms and IDEs.

  • Services like GitHub and GitLab provide collaboration capabilities on top of Git.

Git's versatility in handling complex project histories has made it a favorite among open source projects. Its performance advantages and ubiquitous adoption cement its place as the dominant modern source control system.

Perforce Helix Core

Perforce Helix Core is an enterprise-grade centralized source control system built for large, distributed development teams. Some of its notable features:

  • Advanced branching and versioning capabilities.

  • Changelist-based workflows to track atomic code changes.

  • Access controls and permissions to delegate access.

  • Audit logs for compliance and regulatory requirements.

  • Scalable architecture supporting globally distributed teams.

  • Tight integrations with IDEs like Visual Studio, Eclipse, and IntelliJ.

With robust access controls and audit capabilities, Perforce brings order to complex development environments. Its scalability makes it well-suited for major corporations, game studios, and global organizations.

Coding Collaboration Tools

Real-time communication and coordination is crucial when coding as a team. Some collaboration tools developers rely on include:

  • Slack - Flexible conversations via channels/groups and direct messaging. Useful for both code discussion and casual chatter.

  • GitHub Discussions - Lightweight conversations integrated with repositories. Great for project-specific discussions.

  • Stack Overflow - Question and answer site. Excellent for asking coding questions and finding solutions.

  • Visual Studio Live Share - Allows collaborative code editing and debugging in real time. Integrates tightly with VS Code.

The choice between asynchronous forums like Stack Overflow vs instant messaging tools like Slack depends on the collaboration needs. But having easily searchable chat history helps knowledge sharing, while built-in IDE integrations can streamline team coordination.


Slack is a highly flexible platform used by developers for seamless team collaboration. Key features include:

  • Conversations organized into channels, direct messages, and private groups.

  • Threaded messaging maintains context in busy streams.

  • Searchable message archives with unlimited history.

  • Code snippet sharing with syntax highlighting across over 100 languages.

  • Excellent integrations like Jira, Trello, GitHub, and more.

With customizable notifications, secure file sharing, and ubiquitous mobile apps, Slack fits perfectly into developer workflows. Its popularity and excellent support for code collaboration cement its place as a developer favorite.

GitHub Discussions

GitHub Discussions provide lightweight conversations tightly coupled with repositories. Benefits include:

  • Discussions can be organized into categories like ideas, Q&A, show & tell, etc.

  • Support for polls, pinned discussions, and other engagement options.

  • Notifications keep contributors updated on new discussions.

  • Tight integration as part of the GitHub ecosystem.

As GitHub continues growing beyond source code hosting, Discussions fill an important niche for project-centric communication. The ability to have focused, searchable conversations linked to code makes Discussions highly promising.

Debugging Tools

Debugging tools help identify bugs and understand code behavior. They are invaluable for quickly diagnosing and fixing issues. Some popular options include:

  • GDB - The GNU debugger used widely for C/C++ development. Supports breakpoints, stack traces, and memory inspection.

  • LLDB - More modern, high-performance debugger for C/C++/Objective-C. Ships as part of Xcode.

  • Java Debugger - Comes built into the Oracle JDK for debugging Java applications.

  • Chrome DevTools - Feature-packed web development debugger built into Google Chrome.

  • Visual Studio Debugger - Supports breakpoints, live variable monitoring, and stepping through .NET code.

Having an efficient debugger that integrates into the developer's workflow is crucial. They should provide visibility into code execution, system state, and allow tweaking variables/state on the fly. Debugging tools complement IDEs and enable rapid diagnosis of issues.

Chrome DevTools

Chrome DevTools provides a rich set of web development and debugging capabilities tightly integrated into the Chrome browser:

  • Debug JavaScript code, set breakpoints, and step through execution.

  • Inspect page DOM elements, modify CSS styles, and understand resource loading.

  • Analyze network requests including headers, timings, and parameters.

  • Provides Lighthouse reports for performance, accessibility, SEO, and best practices.

  • Extensible via third-party extensions and themes.

With its ubiquity among web developers and powerful capabilities, Chrome DevTools is arguably the best web debugging tool available today. The integration with Chrome and constant improvements further solidify its position.


LLDB is a high-performance debugger that ships with Xcode on macOS. It supports C, C++, Objective-C and Swift development. Key features include:

  • Robust support for breakpoints, watchpoints and stepping through code.

  • In-depth inspection of stack frames, threads, and variables.

  • Debugging across multiple processes and threads.

  • Customizable formatting and views while debugging.

  • Programmatic access via Python scripting.

  • Integrated into Xcode workflow.

For Apple developers, LLDB provides a modern, polished debugging experience tightly integrated into the Xcode IDE and toolchain.

Testing Tools

Testing plays a crucial role in ensuring code quality and functionality before release. Some popular testing tools include:

  • JUnit - Simple and ubiquitous Java unit testing framework.

  • pytest - Full-featured Python testing toolkit with great extensibility.

  • Selenium - Automates web application testing across many browsers.

  • JMeter - Load and performance testing for web applications.

  • Mockito - Java mocking framework for isolating class dependencies during testing.

Good testing frameworks make it easy to write and organize tests. Features like test fixtures, assertions, mock objects and test runners help streamline testing. Integration with CI/CD platforms allows running tests automatically.


JUnit is the most widely-used Java unit testing framework. Key features:

  • Annotations like @Test, @Before, @After to set up test cases.

  • Assert methods like assertEquals() to test expected vs actual results.

  • Runner classes to automatically execute tests and generate reports.

  • Tight integration with Java IDEs like Eclipse, IntelliJ, and NetBeans.

With its simplicity, extensibility, and ubiquitous adoption, JUnit is the de facto standard for unit testing Java applications.


Selenium automates testing of web applications across a wide selection of browsers. Some of its capabilities:

  • Supports all major browsers including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and mobile browsers.

  • Powerful locators to target page elements like dropdowns, buttons, and forms.

  • Cross-language bindings for Java, Python, C#, Ruby, PHP, and more.

  • Easy record and playback to generate tests capturing all interactions.

  • Distributed testing across multiple machines for parallel test execution.

For comprehensive testing of complex web UIs, Selenium is the leading industry-standard solution. Its cross-platform and language support make it fit into any web testing workflow.

Database Tools

Working with databases often requires specialized tools for querying, administration, and data access. Some useful options include:

  • SSMS - Microsoft's SQL Server Management Studio for administering SQL Server.

  • MySQL Workbench - For MySQL server administration, database design, and migration.

  • TablePlus - Modern, cross-platform IDE for multiple databases with a beautiful UI.

  • JetBrains DataGrip - Excellent multi-database IDE tailored to developers' needs.

  • DBeaver - Free universal database tool for developers and database administrators.

  • pgAdmin - Open source administration and development platform for PostgreSQL.

The right database tools can streamline tedious tasks like query building, performance monitoring, and schema migrations. They complement libraries and frameworks used in code to access and manipulate data.


TablePlus is a versatile cross-platform tool for working with relational databases. Key features:

  • Supports MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, Microsoft SQL Server, and more.

  • Connects to local and remote database servers.

  • Beautiful and intuitive UI design.

  • Visualized query execution explain plans.

  • SSH tunneling for secure remote connections.

  • Customizable themes and keyboard shortcuts.

With excellent multi-database support in a refined interface, TablePlus is a robust single tool that meets diverse data management needs.

MySQL Workbench

MySQL Workbench provides an integrated environment for MySQL databases including:

  • Visual database design, modeling, and schema management.

  • SQL development with syntax highlighting, autocomplete, and refactoring.

  • Administration for configuring servers, user management, and monitoring.

  • Database migration tools to convert between database systems.

  • Integrated data and query editing and execution.

  • Support for stored procedures and triggers.

For MySQL developers and DBAs, Workbench delivers an all-in-one tool for simplifying database administration and development.


The wide range of developer tools available today provides solutions for just about any workflow. Evaluating options based on language ecosystem, customizability, community support and pricing is key to improving productivity.

This article covered some of the popular tools across categories like IDEs, source control, collaboration, debugging, testing and databases. There are always new and innovative tools emerging as development practices evolve.

If you're overwhelmed by the choices, start by focusing on the fundamentals based on your stack like a solid IDE, version control system, and testing framework. Complement with collaboration tools and other utilities over time. Platforms like DevHunt also showcase new developer tools to evaluate and incorporate into your workflow.

With the right toolkit, developers can boost their productivity, streamline workflows, improve code quality, and spend more time building rather than debugging. So explore some new tools today to level up your development environment!