What is your top tool that most devs would be surprised you use regularly?

jess profile image Jess Lee (she/her) ・1 min read

DEV is in the process of launching a podcast and we'd love for you to be involved! We're recording the episodes in advance, and this week we'd like to know:

What is your top tool that most devs would be surprised you use regularly?

If you'd like to participate, please:

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  • OR, if you don't want your voice recorded...just leave a comment here and we'll read your response aloud for you πŸ—£


Thank you!


Editor guide

The URL bar to convert rich text to plain text


Bro. This trick is so simple and yet useful but now only use it whenever CMD + SHIFT + paste doesn't remove formatting.


Yeah, it’s an old habit that will die hard.


Firefox also has the search bar which is one reason why I prefer it.


Many times I use Windows Run for that


Vs code has never let me down for this purpose.


I love when people paste AWS keys in there


Lol, I use Notepad for that xdd


I use notepad/gedit for that. Also for writing anything longer than two sentences because the chance of expiring session is bigger than a chance of a system shut down


I'm doing that too xD


Ctrl-T, Ctrl-V, Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-W :)

One hand and you don't even have to take your finger off Ctrl.


No, I suspect most of us would not be surprised.


Pen and paper.

  1. I never lose my work, even if the power goes out.
  2. It's 100% safe from ransom-ware
  3. GDPR compliance can be achieved with fire

Heard a counter arg, where πŸ”₯ could destroy'em.

But it'd rarely ever happen.


Servers are more likely to be destroyed compared to the paper:

  • Fire
  • Water
  • Power outage
  • Hardware issue

But it'd rarely ever happen. ;)


Been a moleskine user for decades. What's different about getpocket?

Rocket Book is endlessly reusable. It transforms the "real life" notes into digital ones and then you can wipe it clean again.



I use my homemade search engine... haha... what I mean, an HTML input box that creates a string for google to search from multiple sites that I love.

Saves lots of time. Try this one: manish.imfast.io . { by default articles from dev.to also get listed}

Put anything related to DevOps like ubuntu, cloud, Nginx.... etc... and see the magic.
I am using this since 2009 when I was doing my management degree. This type of homemade search engine then helped me and my friends to find a job in the recession.


I use photoshop even though the designers in my life tell me I need the new hotness


There's something newer than photoshop?


Everyone is using Figma for wireframing and general design. It slaps on collaboration.

Illustrator/Photoshop are probably still better for more granular stuff.


For photo editing ? No.
For wireframing, designing responsive mockups and stuff like that yes. There's Adobe XD or Figma for example.


I'm not a designer but for quick flowchart or figures I use Windows PaintBrush.


By far.... A huge margin..... SourceTree to manage git at work, where repos are large, multiple projects, etc.... Everyone I see uses IDEs like intellij but I can't live without the UI of SourceTree


I used SourceTree for quite awhile. Give Fork a gander, I've never looked back.


I remember using SourceTree and remember nothing but the crashes.


Tab Wrangler browser extension (Chrome, Firefox).

I have ~6 or fewer browser tabs open at a given time.


mermaidjs within codepen for on-the-fly diagrams.

The input is "markdown-ish" and the output is svg. I know you can change look and feel with CSS, but I haven't bothered to yet.



That is unexpected, clever, and useful to me.


Nice Austin, really a very useful utility


Here is a Sequence Diagram based on a true story to demonstrate how chaos can be captured quickly. Names have been changed but not forgotten πŸ˜‚


Nano. Discovered it when I started using Ubuntu. Won't give it up. Ever.


Pico/nano is training wheels for vim. Sorry, just need to throw that in. 😎


Crying intensifies


The GitHub Desktop GUI. Yeah, yeah, you’re a lot faster on the command line. Still, I find it convenient. It provides a nice overview of the changes Iβ€˜ve made, and is just good enough for most cases.


Lucidchart. I had a colleague recommend it to me and have never looked back since. I find it far easier to explain solutions with a prop or diagram. Other good solutions (e.g. drawio) exist but I have settled on this one and I'm happy with it.


+1 for Lucid Chart.


Something I highly recommend is code linting, it's essentially a code scanner that analyses your code for bugs and other issues such as stylistic conventions.

Python Linter Image Example

For example, Python has PyLint (there are other linters available too), it's really useful. They should be available on a majority of editors and IDEs I believe. A cool thing about PyLint is that it follows the PEP8 guidelines where it kindly reminds me that my variables should be snake case instead of camel case or that I need to add a docstring to my new function. Definitely worth a look!


I work on a project where the build fails if you break the linting rules. It's awesome.


is there a quick fix auto applied when possible. I once had set up something like that and after adding --fix or something like that I never had to worry about cases for that project.

Aslo faling on warning in rust was a good eay to learn proper language style

yep auto fix, which works up to a point. I'd rather have it manual that completely trust the linter to fix everything though, oldschool like that :)


They'd be surprised if they knew I don't use a language server, just good ol' universal-ctags.

Instead of a regular snippet plugin for vim I use abbreviations. What are those? read this to find out.

Recently I started using this task runner for project specific commands. Kinda like make, but cross-platform and uses YAML.

And also, I rarely use the mouse thanks to an innecesary complicated combination of tools that includes but it's not limited to qtile, rofi, neovim and vimium-ff.


just a few days ago I replaced Rofi, thing I would neve thought possible, is pretty awesome; the thing is that after years trying terminal emulator after term emulator, I've never found something better than XFCE4-terminal (yes I've used st, and yes I've patched it but with more tan 8 terminals open in fact eats more RAM than most and that without any goodies), I just found that XFCE4-terminal has dropdown included as an extra mode that does not affect the rest of the instances, even with it's own settings (you can even make it appear in the middle of the screen), so, new shortcut to my i3 (no, I don't use Arch) and got rid of my trusty Rofi, sorry Rofi, and now whenever I need a quick command or run something I just get the dropdown and voilΓ‘ (I know there are many dropdowns but having more than 1 terminal emulator feels wrong, although I also have cool-retro-term, but is too visually awesome, it doesn't count as terminal, count as eye candy :) )

That's it, I just wanted to share my new discovery, maybe nothing new, but I really like it.


I have had iabbr :poo: πŸ’© in my .vimrc for a million years. Very useful, these abbreviations :)


As a vim user, ctags is indispensable. Wish people would use it more.


I spend a lot of time with unix tools and set up a lot of automated scripts for my daily work, while most of my colleagues all push forwards much more complex, heavier, and harder to learn (imho) tools to do the same job.

My top tool is probably grep


And I still use sed and awk with grep and sometimes perl too.


I also chain them together, but since it was only about one tool, I decided to go with grep, which I also use as a standalone tool

switch to ripgrep, come to the dark side :D

  • pdfsplit and pdfunite to quickly, well, is self explanatory
  • html slide presentation, got rid of PPT and alike
  • restructuredText or MArkdown instead of wordprocessors
  • Git as "backup" to all my system and user settings, to migrate to a new Linux install is just cloning a few personal repos and making some soft links
  • a RaspberryPi as "git server"
  • a BeagleBone Black with Pi-hole to filter a lot of "unwanted content", nothing FB in my LAN
  • an old Android phone, like, old Android 4 old and that after I rooted it with Cyanogen, it came with Android 2, circa 2012
  • Gentoo in an old laptop with a broken screen and with an external keyboard as a main machine

Windows Clipoard. Win key + V. No need for extra tools like clipx for me. Maybe more supprised that I use windows at all but hey man's gotta game sometimes


Steam with Proton enables a good 75% of my Steam library under Linux, no issues at all. Another few games work, but have issues (performance, crashing, some anti-cheats don't work for MP, etc.), but by and large it's very rare that I feel constrained as a gamer running only Linux.

You do you, but it's something to consider if you aren't otherwise tied to the Windows platform :)


Heard about it but forgot. There's actually one more thing. My wife is using loads of Adobe and dislikes shifting around. So WSL on it and I have to be fine with it.


Windows Subsystem for Linux, the terminal runs tests much faster for me than powershell. So I've been using its bash shell primarily lately.

Something I use on my Chromebook is Code-server. It's VS Code, but not in a full electron app. You start it as a node server, and access the frontend as a url in Chrome - which you can save as an app-shortcut. The UI is so much faster running in Chrome than running the whole Electron app via Crostini. Still run the node part in Crostini though


Hum... I've spent a lot of time picking tools that go well together so that's a tough one...

Well, I when I need to copy/paste a secret between two computers, I use WhatsApp web, send it to my wife, open WhatsApp web on the other computer and then delete the message.


I use VIM but when I need to do a find and replace I open up my project folder in TextMate and I do a search on there because I'm not smart enough to remember the find all and search command in VIM.


On Windows:
Cygwin or Babun for a git that "just works". This way you can have even two git accounts signed in on your computer (one for work and one personal). I use native windows git for work and git in Babun for personal stuff.

On Linux:
PDF X Change editor running via Wine because linux just does not have any PDF editor/viewer that works the way I want.


Oh yes, Cygwin rocks.


Project is discontinued for Babun, but it looks awesome.


'Meld' tool to compare two folders. By this I mean when a repo is used as a dependency in another repo, and I made changes in the folder present in node_modules, how do I make sure to not loose any of these changes and push them to the actual repo? Using this meld. I got to know this from one of my colleague some years back and I still use it.


Code/SQL generation by Excel/Sheets spreadsheet.


Also I used whatwpthemeisthat.com/ a lot when I did wordpress dev.


Ice packs and little fans. They make my computer go faster, because Linux.

If we're allowed to get a bit metaphorical with the word "tool," it's listening. Yes, I know, that doesn't really count as a tool. I am the tool.


File explorer address bar to run shell commands in that directory... cd in windows is so painful without a good history or autojump


Whimsical.com, for brainstorming simple wireframes, flowcharts and mind maps all in one canvas.


Pencil and paper


Surprised? No. Impressed? Yes.


For Git operations, I use VS Code purely for making commits and resolving merge conflicts. For anything else, I use the Git CLI in Bash. I've used GUI alternatives before, like the GitHub Desktop app, Source Tree, and they've all lacked features in one way or another. I end up using the CLI anyway, so deviating is just a waste of time. I wish it wasn't the case, but that's the reality I've found.


Something they would be surprised? My fingers! πŸ˜…

I like automation, shortcuts and existing solutions as much as the next dev, but I also love typing, especially boilerplate code πŸ™ˆ


I use this for like wire frames or mocks or to take notes too. It is awesome but simple to use.

  • Windows Virtual Desktops + On Board Memory Mouse macro keys to switch to previous/next virtual desktop
  • Mouse Without Borders (I have always my mouse+keyboard connect to the desktop, but I have a work laptop which I control with the same kb/mouse)
  • ShareX (I started recently to use as replacement to Instant Eyedropper, because it has the color picker + more functionalities)
  • Windows Clipboard History

Probably using Keyboard Maestro for some code snippets and aliases that I like to have synced across my machines.

Yes, there are other tools, I even have some of them but the muscle memory of the shortcuts is firmly planted in my brain and they just work.


I do all git and docker operations on vscode.
It feels 'wrong to open an empty vscode to stop a container but Its quick and awesome


Ditto clipboard manager. Multiple copy being preserved has to be fundamental tool baked in a gui manager


xfce4-timer-plugin to run my pomodoros πŸ…


Okay, hear me out - VS Code.


The devtools console for testing anything that's commonscript


Can't wait to hear this pod!!


An online RegEx website to work with data and strings.


Tmux si the best terminal multiplexer, yet so underrated 😏


I take notes inside Gmail’s drafts.


Textpad 6.x for Windows is a powerful tool to search in LOG files, even in code files ... recurse subfolders and other options may be helpful.


Sublime Text 3 πŸ˜†

At work, I think all of my pals use Visual Studio Code. They were surprised when approached my desk and found my editor to be ST3 πŸ˜ƒ


I use ST3 too, I have very few plugins and no autocompletion (well, aside the one that suggests you the symbols within the open file) and I use the command line A LOT (grepping, git, diffing, running tests and so on).

I used to use VSCode but I switched back, don't have a plan to reverse that decision


Yes, command line for git and tests. Some pals use VS Code because it's "easier" to have the terminal in the editor.

I prefer to have multiple terminal tabs to run git commands and tests.


Best text editor I've ever used. I much prefer it to VSC


Of course I do:

"All Autocomplete",
"Dockerfile Syntax Highlighting",
"Ruby Slim",
"Sync Settings",
"TypeScript Syntax"

My favorite one is sync settings. It lets me saved my ST setting in a github gist and use it across the machines I use. It's a time saver.


It's just so fast.
There are some plugins that I miss and sometimes I use VSC as Xdebug client, but else, Sublime Text is sublime.


Its search and replace is quite a bit slow compared to VSCode though, it's the only thing that I find annoying.