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Jamie Swift
Jamie Swift

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2021 Tech Highlights: Best Software For Dev Teams

How would I sum up 2021? For me and my team, the last 12 months were filled with constant learning and adapting to the new trends that completely changed the way we used to work (remember the habit of actually going to the office and wearing pants to work…?!). It wasn’t always easy, but the challenges we faced pushed us into searching for convenient software that could help us handle the new normal. In this short post, I would like to share with you the discoveries I made this year in the field of developer tools.


GitLive

This tool is for all you team players out there, GitLive makes Git LIVE. It adds a tab to your IDE where you can see your fellow collaborators, if they are online, what issue and branch they are working on and even their uncommitted changes, all updated in real-time. Any non-stale branch ahead of master/main is considered work in progress and you can inspect diffs of the files changed as well as view the associated issue or pull request.

Their flagship feature is automatic merge conflict detection. Your teammates’ changes show in the gutter of the editor (addition, deletion, modification or conflict) where you can inspect them to see the diff, what branch it’s from and cherry-pick them straight into your copy of the file if you need to.

GitLive can be very useful for larger teams and especially useful for open projects as these features even work across forks. What’s also cool is as the data comes straight from Git, there’s no manual entry required to keep it up-to-date.

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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 tool comes 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!

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GitPod

The problem developers often face is a huge amount of time wasted on setting a development environment. Gitpod aims at automating this cumbersome process by allowing you to spin up fresh, automated dev environments for each task, in the cloud, in no time. By providing always ready-to-code development environments, GitPod eliminates a tone of pain points that we all know too well: project onboarding, context switching, dependencies that no longer work - you name it.

Dropping your local development environment can mean a huge boost of productivity for you and your team. It is open core, so there are some features that you have to pay for if you want to host them yourself, targeted at larger teams, but the free plan is pretty generous for everyone who’d like to try it.

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Retool

Retool is an internal app builder. As we all know, setting up internal tooling and applications is time-consuming, repetitive, and keeps developers from the actual problems they are trying to solve. Retool offers a collection of drag and drop components that allow you to build an elegant UI for your app in minutes. Plus, everything in Retool is a JS object that you can easily manipulate; you can also build your own custom React components. Out of the box, Retool will connect to nearly anything with a REST or GraphQL API. A growing library of native integrations makes it even easier to connect with your data sources.

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FireHydrant

FireHydrant is a tool that puts out “fires” at work and handles your system reliability. It helps document the system, integrate the tools you already use, and gather data and alerts for handling incidents. With FireHydrant you can automate incident handling workflows e.g. create a new Slack room, status page update or a Zoom bridge.

FireHydrant gives teams the tools to maintain service catalogs, respond to incidents, communicate through status pages, and learn with retrospectives. The paid plan may seem quite costly (20$ per user per month for smaller teams and 44$ per month for teams 5+), but there is a free plan available that lets you test if the platform suits your company’s needs.

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Thanks for reading, hope you’ll find the tools I presented above interesting and useful. Happy New Year 2022!

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