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Thomas Scott
Thomas Scott

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Productivity Boosters: My Top Five Developer Tools Worth The Money

They say the best things in life are free, but when it comes to software... well, it’s not always true. Don't get me wrong - there are plenty of excellent free, open source tools I use daily. But tools that help you develop faster or more efficiently can easily pay for themselves in terms of time saved, because, as they also say, time is money.

I rounded up a list of the tools that I think are worth paying for and I hope you will find it useful. They all have a decent free plan or trial version available, so you can always kick the tires before you break the bank 💰


GitLive

GitLive is my team’s most recent discovery. It’s a peer-to-peer code streaming platform and IDE UI extensions (for VS Code and JetBrains) that enhance Git with real-time features such as online presence for team members and instant merge conflict detection.

Online presence for team members. The IDE plugin adds a team sidebar/tool window where you can see who in your team is online, what issues and branches they are working on and the changes they’ve made on those branches. This is great for remote teams and really helps when you want to view or share work in progress without resorting to a screen share or cut and pasting snippets of code into Slack or Teams.

Instant merge conflict detection. Indicators in the gutter of your editor show the difference between your changes and the changes of others. These update in real-time as you and your teammates are editing and provide an early warning of potential merge conflicts. They are a great way to get upfront insight into the potentially overlapping work of your colleagues without interruption.

Free plan. Includes:

  • Unlimited users
  • Social coding and issue tracking
  • Merge conflict detection on fetch/pull
  • One-to-one calls with codeshare
  • 40-min call duration limit

💲 Pro plan (10$/user/month or free for Open Source). Includes:

  • Everything from the free plan
  • Instant merge conflict detection
  • Group calls (coming soon)
  • 4-hour call duration limit
  • Priority support

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Wallaby.js

Wallaby is an integrated continuous testing tool for JavaScript, developed by the team behind Quokka and Dingo (fun fact: they name all their products after native Australian animals 🇦🇺)

This distraction-free javascript testing runs the tests as you type and provides the results directly in your editor, right next to your code (unlike traditional test runners that display feedback in your console), even on unsaved files.

Wallaby works really well on bigger projects where it can help you maximize your productivity by allowing you to focus on a specific set of tests, no matter how large your project becomes.

The tools come with a lot of great features like time travel debugger with edit-and-continue or value explorer and output inspector for viewing runtime values, to name just a few. Plus their docs are amazing and provide you with a vast overview of all the functionality that can really make you kick it off with the product in no time!

2-week free trial

💲 Licence required after two weeks
The regular price is 200$/user/year, but there are plenty of discounts that you can apply for (for example 40% for startups and non-profit, 10% for teams +20 ). Free for OSS.

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Code Time

If you’re anything like me, you surely appreciate a good data visualisation of how you spent your time during coding. Personally, analyzing the graphs helps me improve my time management and better organize my work - that’s why I love time tracking tools, I use them for my personal projects and encourage my team to use one as well. Recently we’ve been experimenting with Code Time 🕰

Code Time is an Open Source plugin for automatic programming metrics and time tracking in Visual Studio Code on JetBrains. Its advanced features can provide you detailed feedback on how productive you are at work (a big plus for a slick design!).

It has a lot of cool features that help you minimise distractions, find out your most productive time of the day and break down your coding stats (code time by project, lines of code and keystrokes.) With Teams plan, you can defend code time, see the impact of meetings, and improve work-life balance across your entire team, while your data is always private - when you create a team, you will only see aggregated and anonymized summary data at the team level—available to everyone on that team. In addition, to protect individual privacy, the minimum team size is five members.

Free plan. Includes:

  • Fast setup in less than five minute
  • Key DevOps performance metrics
  • 90-day data retention

💲 Pro plan (20$/user/month or free for Open Source). Includes:

  • Everything in the free plan
  • Unlimited data retention
  • Custom dashboards
  • Automated email reporting
  • Monitors and alerts
  • EditorOps workflow automation (coming soon)

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Tabnine

Most of the dev teams are constantly looking for solutions that will boost their productivity. One of the ways to increase the efficiency of developers (and decrease frustration) is faster coding. If you are among those who are always on a hunt for tools to speed up the coding Tabnine should definitely be on your radar.

It is an AI code completion tool that indexes your code and finds statistical patterns to create customized suggestions based on how you write your own code. It allows you to code faster with fewer syntax errors and more code snippets to look into right in your IDE. The best bit is that it gets better with time as it gains more material to learn from, which brings enormous value for dev teams (as we use the same project-specific modules, APIs, code patterns and conventions, whatever the AI learns from each one of the team members is very likely useful for the rest of the team when working in the same context) 🚀

Free plan. Includes:

  • 1 user
  • Completions based on Public Code

💲 Pro plan (12$/user/month or free for Open Source). Includes:

  • 1-50 users
  • Completions based on Your Code
  • Advanced Completions based on Public Code
  • Insights & Analytics
  • Customization Options
  • Priority Support

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JetBrains IDEs

For each his own, but I couldn’t really leave it out, could I? There is no need to present them to any developer, the JetBrains IDEs are widely used for professional development.

JetBrains IDEs come with a lot of “out-of-the-box” functionality dedicated to a specific language. They are also known for their great code refactoring possibilities and code analysis functionalities. Except for IDEA Community and Android Studio the IDEs cost money, but if you consider the amount of work you have to put into configuring other products, the price seems reasonable.

30-day free trial

💲 Licence required after 30 days
To start with, most of their IDEs cost 199$ per user year, excluding WebStorm which is cheaper (129$) and ReSharper(299$) and Rider(349$) that are more expensive. The price goes down significantly after the second and third year of using the product.

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Time is money, and when it comes to software development then well, there is no doubt about that! I hope you will find my choice of paid developer tools worth checking out and after weighing the benefits they provide you’ll agree that spending money on quality tools is worth the cost.

Discussion (15)

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tabnine profile image
Tabnine

Thanks for this comprehensive and useful article, Thomas!
Can you please DM us? We want to send you swag :)

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anotherdevuser profile image
Thomas Scott Author

Thank you 😊

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tabnine profile image
Tabnine

Waiting for your DM :)

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peterwitham profile image
Peter Witham

Many tools here that I have not heard of, will take a look at them, thanks for suggesting.

One that I have heard of and use is JetBrains, it's nice to have a suite of tools where I only have to learn something once and apply to the many. JetBrains get's my vote for sure.

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blaisep profile image
Blaise Pabon

JetBrains also has a monthly plan which works out well for me.

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steakeye profile image
Andrew Keats

I love it when companies have free plans so you can try the features before commiting to a paid plan.
What I applaud even more is when open-source projects get the paid version for free! 👌

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adophilus profile image
Adophilus

Yes exactly

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joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

What about GitKraken? It's literally the only tool I pay for 😆 It's quite useful to me.

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anotherdevuser profile image
Thomas Scott Author

Hey, GitKraken is definitely a good suggestion, but since I don’t really use it, didn’t want to include it here.

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joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

Sorry just realised that it literaly sais "MY top five" 😆

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zucchivan profile image
Ivan Zucchi dos Santos

I loved GitKraken to solve conflicts, but overall git integration from JetBrains IDEs are matching my needs nowadays.

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joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

I was used to Jetbrains IDEs but I make an 2-week effort and see that VSCode was lighter, faster and more convenient, at least working with JS.
GitKraken is much cheaper than JetBrains IDEs so... 1+1 :laugh:

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isaacdlyman profile image
Isaac Lyman

Have you tried GitHub Copilot? How does it compare to TabNine?

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fahl profile image
Max Fahl

Copilot is better working with JS, I’m my opinion, can’t speak for other languages.

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adophilus profile image
Adophilus

Tabnine 🔥🔥🔥