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10 Must-Have Tools for Software Development

Are you looking to take your software development productivity to the next level? Then keep reading, as the 10 must-have tools for software development in this guide can help you achieve that goal through enhanced collaboration, automation, project management, monitoring, integrations, and other features.

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Software development teams use GitHub for collaboration and storing and tracking code changes. The programming tool tracks code changes through Git, a distributed version control system that allows for code collaboration without overwriting the previous work of team members. GitHub’s main features include:

  • Collaborative coding
  • Automation and CI/CD
  • Built-in security tools
  • Mobile app and multi-platform support
  • Project and task management
  • Thriving community and plenty of integrations

Developers can use GitHub’s issue tracking to track bugs, feature requests, and other code-related issues to stay organized. It has pull requests to ensure any code changes are carefully reviewed before merging with the primary codebase, Wikis to document and share processes, the ability to host code repositories, and discussions to facilitate communication.

The developer tool also features code reviews to pinpoint potential problems and improve quality and codespaces to minimize software installation and onboarding so team members can get started quickly. Lastly, GitHub offers CI/CD capabilities, automation, and integrations with popular third-party developer tools.

GitHub Pricing

GitHub has three pricing plans to choose from, including:

  • Free: Free with limited features
  • Team: $3.67 per user, per month
  • Enterprise: $19.25 per user, per month

The Free plan has limited features but is good for citizen developers or those wanting to try out GitHub in a limited format. It allows for unlimited repositories, automatic security and version updates, 2,000 CI/CD minutes per month, and 500MB of Packages storage. The Team plan has all of the features of the Free plan plus access to GitHub Codespaces, protected branches, the ability to have multiple reviewers in pull requests, and code owners. Finally, the Enterprise version unlock GitHub’s full potential and adds features like managed users, SCIM user provisioning, and an Audit Log API.


Jira Software

Jira Project Management Dashboard

Jira Software claims to be the number one tool for software development used by Agile teams. The flexible, customizable, and scalable project management software can handle teams of 1-20,000 users through its wide variety of features that start with Scrum and Kanban boards. Other features include:

  • Interactive Timelines view for epic and dependency tracking
  • Scrum and Kanban boards
  • Advanced reporting and dashboard templates
  • Customizable workflows
  • Over 3,000 integrations
  • Code and deployment status overviews

Templates for DevOps, tracking, Scrum, and Kanban limit onboarding and make it easier to get started, and roadmaps make it easy for teams to stay in sync.

The widely-used developer tool empowers project managers via multiple views, dashboards, reporting, and insights, plus offers time tracking and user workload capabilities to ensure team efficiency. Developers can save time on recurring tasks with Jira Software’s drag-and-drop automation and enjoy out-of-the-box bug tracking. Other Jira Software highlights include Open DevOps, custom workflows and fields, and third-party integrations with thousands of popular tools.

Jira Software Pricing

Jira Software has four pricing plans to choose from, including:

  • Free: Free for up to 10 users with limited features
  • Standard: $7.75 per user, per month up to 35,000 users
  • Premium: $15.25 per user, per month
  • Enterprise: Contact sales for more information

Jira Software’s Free version is has limited features and is available for up to 10 users. It comes with unlimited project boards, reporting, 2GB of storage, and community support. Standard offers everything the Free plan, plus support for up to 35,000 users, user roles and permissions, access to audit logs, data residency, increased storage, and business hours support. Premium adds onto Standard and costs members $15.25 per user, per month. It adds capabilities such as advanced roadmaps, sandbox and release tracks, project archiving, and guaranteed uptime. Enterprise pricing is available through the sales team and unlocks the software’s full potential, including unlimited sites, 24/7 Enterprise support, and centralized security tools.

Check out our Jira Project Management Software Review for more.


Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is an open-source code editor from Microsoft. Free, fast, and lightweight, the coding tool runs seamlessly on multiple platforms (Windows, macOS, Linux) and is used by developers of all experience levels, from beginner to advanced. Features include:

  • Multi-platform support
  • Code editing tools like syntax highlighting, auto-indentation, and bracket-matching
  • Support for hundreds of programming languages
  • Built-in code debugging
  • Plenty of customizations for workspaces and integrations
  • Build and scripting tools
  • Free and Open Source

VS Code’s integrated debugger lets you inspect variables in each line of your code. It has live editing to help front-end developers see how code changes impact the UI in real time, plus an IntelliSense feature that offers smart code completion based on function definitions, imported modules, and variable types. Visual Studio Code also offers built-in Git integration that allows for seamless code cloning, committing, pushing, and pulling from GitHub and similar repositories, a marketplace with over 200,000 extensions for ultimate customization, and remote development capabilities.



Jenkins CI/CD tool

Jenkins is a highly-regarded and award-winning open-source automation server that helps developers become more fast, efficient, and productive while reducing errors and improving quality. Known for its flexibility, scalability, and customization, the programmer tool with continuous integration and continuous delivery/deployment (CI/CD) capabilities automates and streamlines software development in several ways. Its features include:

  • Continuous integration and continuous delivery tools
  • Easy to install and configure
  • Highly extensible with support for hundreds of developer apps
  • Distribution across multiple platforms for fast builds, tests, and deployments
  • Free to download and Open Source

Developers can automatically integrate code changes on a continuous basis with Jenkins, plus automate building, testing, and deployment to development, staging, and production environments. The programming tool’s distributed architecture boosts performance and scalability, while its flexible and customizable pipelines let developers define their complete delivery workflow with perks like parallel execution, conditional logic, and more.

Reporting is another Jenkins feature, and perhaps its top highlight is a massive, community-built ecosystem featuring over 1,800 plugins for source code management, build management, user interface, and more.



ClickUp Project Management Software Review

ClickUp makes the list of must-have developer tools for its multiple features that help project managers and software development teams stay on the same page. The highly-rated project management software has hundreds of templates to minimize setup time and over 20 views (calendar, board, list, etc.) for visualizing progress in real-time. Its features include:

  • Birds-eye view dashboard to monitor every aspect of a project
  • Task and user management, including customizable tasks
  • Nested subtasks and checklists
  • 15 views, including grid, Gantt, and timeline
  • Code-free customizations and automations
  • Hundreds of pre-built templates
  • Built-in collaboration tools
  • Document sharing
  • Advanced reporting

Extensive task management (subtasks, epics, sprints, critical path, and milestones) is one of ClickUp’s biggest strengths, and collaboration (comments, chat, whiteboards, notes, email, and proofing) is another area where it truly shines. ClickUp has pre-built and custom automations to save time, ClickApps for added no-code functionality like dependencies and custom fields, time tracking, and real-time reporting. And, if anything is missing out of the box, you can extend ClickUp even more with 1,000 plus integrations.

ClickUp Pricing

ClickUp has four pricing options, including:

  • Free: Free with limited features
  • Unlimited: $7 per user, per month
  • Business: $12 per user, per month
  • Enterprise: Contact sales for pricing

The Free plan comes with 100MB of storage, unlimited tasks, two-factor authentication, Kanban boards, and real-time chat. Unlimited has everything that Free offers, plus unlimited storage, unlimited integrations and dashboards, Gantt charts, resource management, and more. Business has everything in Unlimited plus unlimited teams, advanced automations and time tracking, workload management, and Mind Maps. Finally, Enterprise pricing is available through sales and unlocks everything the project management software has to offer, including white labeling, an Enterprise API, unlimited custom roles, and live onboarding training.

Read our ClickUp Project Management Software Review for more.



GitLab project management

GitLab is another CI/CD tool that is a must-have for software development. With it, developers can automate code building, testing, and deployment to enjoy enhanced productivity and quality without sacrificing security. Some of its main features include:

  • Methodology-agnostic project planning and management
  • Source code management
  • Code review workflows
  • Built-in Web IDE
  • Support for remote development
  • Continuous integration and continuous deployment tools
  • Application monitoring
  • Governance capabilities, including dependency management, audit events, and security policies

Flexibility is one of GitLab’s top features, as it works with all of the most popular frameworks and programming languages to fit your team’s precise needs. The programmer tool is not just flexible, though, as it is also secure with its security test reports, dependency and container scanning features, and more.

Developers can save a ton of time with the Auto DevOps feature and its pre-configurations, and they can collaborate through the ChatOps function. The Code Quality feature makes code concise and minimizes maintenance, and the browser and load performance testing features can give developers extra insight into how impactful new code changes may be. You can connect GitLab to external repositories for added convenience, use the programmer tool’s interactive web terminals to debug running jobs, run CI/CD jobs in Docker containers, and much more.

What is the best part of those features listed above? They only describe what GitLab CI/CD can do, as “GitLab” encompasses an entire Agile-friendly DevSecOps platform with project management capabilities, Scrum and Kanban boards, roadmaps, epics, merge requests, milestones, issue tracking, Wikis, and time tracking.

GitLab Pricing

GitLab has three pricing tiers to choose from:

  • Free: Free with limited features
  • Premium: $29 per user, per month
  • Ultimate: $99 per user, per month

GitLab’s Free plan comes with 5GB of storage, 10GB of transfer per month, 400 compute minutes per month, and 5 users per top-level group. Premium costs $29 per user, per month and adds additional features like code ownership, protected branches, advanced CI/CD, and Enterprise Agile planning. Ultimate costs $99 per user, per month and adds capabilities like security dashboards, suggested reviewers, vulnerability management, and dependency scanning.

Learn more by reading our GitLab Review.


IntelliJ IDEA

NetBeans IDE for Android

JetBrains released IntelliJ IDEA in 2000 as a programming tool to help Java developers. The integrated development environment now supports various programming languages and boosts developer productivity through many features, which include:

  • Easy setup and configuration
  • Plenty of keyboard shutcuts for enhanced productivity
  • Customized themes and accessibility features
  • Access to JetBrains ecosystem and third-party integrations
  • Code editing tools like code inspections, code completion, and context actions
  • Code search and navigation
  • Built-in testing and debugging tools
  • Built-in build tools and profiler
  • Version control

The coding tool’s top feature is its intelligent code assistance. Developers can enjoy increased speed, confidence, and efficiency when coding thanks to its intelligent code completion, automatic refactoring, and more. Customizable live templates are another way IntelliJ IDEA increases coding speed. That is not all that is customizable, though, as developers can tweak the interface with custom themes to get that desired look too.

The Search Everywhere tool helps developers quickly find what they are looking for, as can the Find in Files function. IntelliJ IDEA also offers many integrated tools to make life easier (database tools, terminal, profiler, decompiler, etc.), collaboration (JetBrains Space, Code With Me, etc.), and third-party integrations with popular programmer tools like Gradle, Ant, Maven, Kubernetes, Docker, and others.

IntelliJ IDEA Pricing

IntelliJ IDEA has two pricing plans:

  • IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate: $599 per user for the first year
  • All Products Pack: $799 per user for the first year

The IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate version starts at $599 per user for the first year and decreases in price for the next two consecutive years. The All Products Pack is $799 per user for the first year and also decreases substantially if you sign up for either two or three years. It comes with all of the IntelliJ IDEA features plus 10 IDEs, 3 extensions, 2 profilers, and the collaborative development service.

Learn more about IntelliJ IDEA’s features and pricing in our IntelliJ IDEA Review.



Red Hat Ansible is a flexible and customizable open-source automation tool that helps development teams scale and save a ton of time on recurring tasks. It has cross-platform support, configuration management capabilities, and automates application deployment. Its features include:

  • Automate IT tasks with user-defined and rule-based constructs
  • Automated execution environments
  • CI/CD pipelines
  • Build, test, and deployment automations
  • Easy setup and configuration

Ansible pricing is available via the company’s pricing page.

Developers can rely on Red Hat Ansible to orchestrate complex workflows, and they can extend the automation tool’s functionality even more with a vast library of community-contributed modules and third-party integrations that include the likes of GitHub, Bitbucket, Jenkins, Travis CI, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.


New Relic

New Relic DevOps tools

New Relic is a highly-scalable deployment management DevOps tool that offers real-time application monitoring and analytics. Project managers of software development teams can use the handy tool to spot performance issues before they get out of hand. It’s features include:

  • Easy to setup and configure
  • Customized instrumentation and dashboards for flexible data collection
  • AI and Machine Learning “guides” to help find application performance issues faster
  • Real-time error analysis
  • Integrates with popular DevOps tools
  • Cloud support
  • Highly scalable

New Relic pricing requires a set of calculations based on the user’s needs. You can check pricing on their pricing calculator page.

New Relic is highlighted by AI-powered anomaly detection. It automatically detects behavior deviations, instantly notifies DevOps teams, and allows them to make quick fixes. The developer tool also offers team collaboration, comprehensive monitoring (network, infrastructure, and browser), and integrates with 600-plus third-party tools.



Dynatrace APM tool

Dynatrace is another DevOps deployment management tool that relies on AI to make developers’ lives easier. Its AIOps feature facilitates time-saving automation via machine learning models, and the developer tool also offers top-notch application performance monitoring, analytics, and reporting. Some of its features include:

Dynatrace has the following features:

  • Infrastructure and application observability tools
  • DevSecOps features like application security monitoring
  • Built-in business analytics and real-time business observability
  • Highly extensible with other DevOps tools
  • Deployment across multiple cloud, containerization, and other platforms

Dynatrace’s pricing can be complicated and requires user input. Check out the Dynatrace pricing page for more.

Other Dynatrace features include application security, distributed tracing, insightful dashboards, and integrations with popular cloud-computing platforms and test automation frameworks.


Final Thoughts on Must-Have Tools for Software Development

Adding just one of the tools listed above to your routine can significantly increase your software development team’s productivity and efficiency. Combine the capabilities of multiple developer tools, and you can get even closer to reaching your full potential.

Read: Top Collaboration Tools and Software for Developers

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