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Nine Developer Productivity Tools to Keep You Focused

Nine Developer Productivity Tools to Keep You Focused

From the satisfying clack of a new mechanical keyboard, to the latest noise-cancelling headphones to block said keyboard, every developer has their own productivity recipe to keep them focused in the code.

We asked programmers to share their can't-work-without-it tools of the year. From newly discovered standbys, to just-launched productivity boosters, here's what the community had to say.

In no particular order...


Via GraphQL.org

Though it could be debated whether an API query language is a productivity tool, developers are loving GraphQL. Created by Facebook and open sourced October 2015, GraphQL boasts lower payloads and less bloat compared to REST.

Nominated by Pedro Parra, a senior dev at MarketGoo, GraphQL is quickly gaining steam and may replace REST in the coming years.

Pedro told us, “GraphQL helps me define service APIs and connect me with the server in the most efficient way possible.”

Rather than making, say, five REST requests, developers are able to accomplish the same task with just one well-formed GraphQL request.

This fall, GitHub made news when they announced they would soon release a more scalable API in GraphQL. Third-party apps (hi!👋) will soon be able to fetch all the info they need with far fewer requests.


Via Gettoby.com

In a world of clunky tab managers, Toby stands out. The add-on allows you to sort tabs into lists and sync lists across devices. Developers praise its UI and “ease of use”; unlike other tab managers, Toby’s search bar allows users to quickly uncover what they’re seeking across all their tabs.

Toby founder Arthur Camara told us he originally developed the tool for himself. As someone who kept all his tabs open so he could easily go back to them, Arthur says he wanted to create a “dashboard” where he could “close tabs without fear of losing them.”

Though not without some early hiccups, the app blew up on Product Hunt and was featured in publications like LifeHacker.

“I was very surprised with the positive response from the community," says Arthur. "Since we released, about 35,000 people have tried Toby – and the response has been amazing.”


Via Babeljs.io

Browsers are notoriously slow to support upcoming JavaScript versions, and that’s where Babel comes in. It’s a JavaScript compiler that translates code written with the newest syntax – or even future syntax – into a version of the language with wider support.

Developers prize high levels of compatibility with the newest Javascript versions, as well as how it integrates with build tools like Gulp, Grunt, and Webpack.

Developer Pedro Parra says, “Babel helps me test and use syntax from the newer JavaScript versions without waiting for them to be compatible with browsers. [It makes me] so efficient that there is no room to lose focus!”


Reveal is kind of like the Chrome Developer Tool of iOS applications. Need to debug an interface problem? Reveal will visualize, and allow you to manipulate, the view hierarchy of iOS apps.

Reveal was brought to us by Sam McEwan, iOS developer at Timely, who mentions, “when building for iOS, interface detail matters – whether it be padding, font sizing, colours or animations. Revel lets you manipulate any element of the interface stack to get it perfect. Reveal [...] allows for dynamic debugging and manipulation of the interface of the app I’m working on.”

It’s especially helpful, Sam says, for developers who work closely with designers.

“Changes that would typically require a recompile can be adjusted and tweaked on the fly. It will knock days off your dev time if you’re working with autolayout by helping you debug interface issues. Also, the exploded 3D hierarchy interface is pretty rad!”

That rad hierarchy interface doesn’t come free, though. Business licenses for Reveal clock in at $119 USD per user.


Via GitHub.com/scrooloose/syntastic

The most insidious bugs can easily go unnoticed. Luckily there’s Syntastic, a Vim plugin and inline syntax checker.

Says Sam Kaufman, CEO at BugReplay: “With JavaScript, it’s so easy to leave out semicolons or misspell a variable, or do something that’s generally bad practice like using == instead of ===. JavaScript is still perfectly happy to compile, but bugs like that can cause serious issues with your software down the road.”

Syntastic automatically runs in the background, reporting on any syntax or stylistic issues it finds with your code before you compile it. It’s able to run code linters for “almost every programming language”, mentions Sam.

“I’ve been programming professionally for over 10 years, and I rarely come across tools that increase my productivity significantly, but Syntastic has really altered the way I program.”

JetBrains Resharper

Via Jetbrains.com/resharper

Resharper isn’t a new tool – it was originally released under the name IntelliJ back in 2000 – but continues to impress as a developer productivity tool.

Resharper extends Microsoft Visual Studio with over 2000 inspections in a variety of languages, providing quick fixes, unit tests, and more.

Jorge, a co-founder and software developer at LittleSleepyTigers.com, believes Resharper is – in his words – “the most useful coding productivity tool out there.”

“Resharper does it all, from enhanced autocompletion, refactoring suggestions, built-in, on-the-fly code quality analysis, performance and memory monitoring. Resharper has literally saved days off of an item's time to completion. It’s a developer’s Swiss Army knife [and] I don’t know how I’ve lived without it.”


Via CloudSploit.com

If you’re one of the 1M+ Amazon Web Services users out there, you might want to check out CloudSploit. This security tool hooks into your AWS instance and regularly scans for vulnerabilities and misconfigurations that could otherwise place your infrastructure at risk.

“While AWS provides an incredible amount of security options, and truly offers solid protection for its users, the onus is on the user to properly configure them,” notes the company.

CloudSploit aims to find these misconfigurations, then provides suggestions for users to secure their account.

“Cloudsploit regularly checks our team's AWS accounts for misconfigurations and security vulnerabilities,” says Josh Rosenthal from REPlexus.

“Instead of having a developer responsible for keeping our scripts up to date, CloudSploit does it. It's free and open source, but we use a subscription to have it scan regularly.”

For extra features – like a Slack integration, email notifications, or API access, you’ll have to shell out around $7 USD per month. It could be a small price to pay for a vulnerability-free product.


Via Mizage.com

Startup desks often resemble ad-hoc art installations with geometric combinations of monitors and collages of windows arranged just so. Dealing with all those windows may not be the biggest time waster of all, but it might be the most annoying.

Enter Divvy, an effortless window management tool that eliminates the constant sizing and re-sizing of windows across monitors.

Duncan, a programmer who heads up product at Jebbit, says that “Divvy is a window management tool that enables me to move and resize windows without taking my hands off the keyboard."

"You can set up hotkeys to fill a given space on your screen with any window. It makes it really easy to set up my workstation, and my subconscious is never distracted by strange-sized windows.”


Via Kapeli.com/dash

Several developers raised a hand for Dash as their best-loved productivity tool. Dash is a documentation browser for over 150 APIs, and operates as an offline functional search engine.

Users can search in a global search box for specific functions, and the tool returns the appropriate calls by language. It comes with a pretty extensive set of integrations, from Atom, to Terminal, VisualStudio, and Sublime Text, plus lots more.

Earlier this month, however, Dash was removed from the App Store after being accused of review fraud by Apple. The story is a bit convoluted on both sides, but in any case, Dash founder Bogdan Popsecu will continue supporting the desktop version of Dash.

This list is hardly extensive! Go ahead, send us a tweet about our glaring omission telling us why you love it, and we might just add it in!

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