5 Tools That Make Me a Better Software Developer

The tools of the trade…

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Every skilled craftsman needs the right tools to do their job well. Software developers are no exception. Here are my top five tools that help me do work and boost my productivity.

JetBrains IDEs

Throughout my career, I have switched back and forth between several different IDEs. Over the past year and a half, I have stuck pretty consistently with just using JetBrains IDEs. I use WebStorm for React projects, Ryder for .NET core projects, PyCharm for Python projects, and IntelliJ for Java projects.

For most of my software development career, I have been a consultant which means I am switching projects and programming languages fairly regularly. With a JetBrains subscription, I get a development tool for each language which not only gives me a place to write code but also tells me how I can write better code.

For years I used ReSharper with Visual Studio on Windows machines for .NET projects, but I have exclusively worked on Macs for the past few years. There is now Visual Studio for Mac, but the drawback is there is no ReSharper plugin for the Mac version.

That’s why I use Ryder now because it works on Mac and has ReSharper built into it. If you aren’t familiar with ReSharper it is a tool that analyzes your code and makes suggestions on how you can better follow conventions or suggest improvements. The first time it cleans up a nasty for loop into a tidy LINQ expression you will be hooked!

There is a subscription fee (yearly or monthly) to use, but for me has been well worth the investment. Even better if you can get your employer to provide you a license!

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DataGrip

Following along with the JetBrains theme they also provide a tool called DataGrip which is my favorite SQL client. I am no DBA by any stretch of the imagination, but DataGrip makes working with databases easy.

With DataGrip you get syntax highlighting and code completion for SQL. It will also stop and warn you if you do something like a DELETE statement without a WHERE clause.

It also provides other tools for working with dumping data to CSV files and also creating and importing a CSV file into a new table at the click of a mouse. I have used many SQL clients over the years, and this is the first I’ve found that I look forward to using.

The catch is DataGrip is not free. But if you already have all products JetBrains license then DataGrip is included with that.

VSCode

I have gone through cycles of using VSCode 100% for long periods. It may not be a full-featured IDE, but it has a massive library of plugins that allow you to import all the tools you need with a few clicks. It’s also free to use which is amazing when you consider everything you can do with it.

Even when I am not using it as my main IDE I’ll open it up often and use it as a utility formatting text or resolving merge conflicts with the git interface. There’s a reason you see so many developers using VSCode currently.

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Postman

Postman has been around for a long time and I have used it off and on throughout my career. For brief periods, I switched to other REST clients like Insomnia or the HTTP plugin for VSCode, but after using some of the newer team features from Postman I haven’t touched anything else recently.

You can create collections of API requests and share those collections with your teammates. This is incredibly useful for distributing not only the interfaces but also examples of parameters and all that. And you also have the option to sync your collections across multiple devices.

They may have more competition now than in the beginning, but to me, they are back firmly in the lead now with all the new features they’ve added recently.

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PluralSight

Whenever I am getting ready to start working on something new the first thing I do is dig into Pluralsight for a bit of training. They have a large breadth of options for topics for their courses and I can usually find what I am looking for and very quickly get a baseline understanding of a new topic.

The only drawback I see is you have to be careful how old the courses you watch are. Sometimes if you jump into something that is a few years old many of what they teach can be totally out of date. That’s not true for every topic, but especially so if you’re looking into newer JavaScript frameworks.

I have tried other education platforms throughout the years, but PluralSight has been the one I’ve consistently maintained a subscription with.

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Written by

I am the Director of I.T. at IN10T. My passions include software development, anything technology related, and cars.

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