For many of today’s tech companies, improving the developer experience, or DevEx, has become a core mandate. There are a number of reasons behind this shift: better DevEx helps reduce turnover, makes it easier to hire, and contributes to making teams more engaged and productive.
When we talk about a positive developer experience, we don’t just mean ensuring your developers are happy—although that does play an important role. Improving DevEx also requires adopting the right tools, processes, and organizational structures to ensure developers can be agile, participate in strategic initiatives, and do the work that excites and inspires them without any barriers.
To help engineering leaders make informed decisions around what tools improve DevEx, we went to the source. We asked the developers at OpsLevel to share a list of technologies that help improve their day-to-day experiences at work, and they had a lot to share.
What follows is their top developer experience tools sorted into # relevant categories. Before we get started, however, it’s worth noting that a lot of these tools are open source and free. For engineering and DevEx leads, that means there’s an opportunity to share these resources with your team and make sure they know these are available for use.
Tools that promote collaboration (and best practice adoption)
Postman: Postman is an API platform that’s used for building and using APIs. It includes API tools, an API repository where you can store, iterate, and collaborate on all API artifacts within one central platform.
Why developers love it: It reduces the variability in APIs, shortens the time spent launching new features, and lowers testing time on API artifacts.
Notion Mermaid diagrams: Mermaid JS is a library for building architectural and process diagrams as Code. You start by writing a set of code that describes how the diagram looks, then use the library to render it as a diagram. Notion recently added Mermaid support to their code blocks, so you can select it as a language type and create flow diagrams in minutes.
Why developers love it: It makes it easier to craft visuals and share ideas with images, giving people a chance to provide feedback via a familiar platform in Notion.
Tools that make troubleshooting and debugging easier
Wireshark: Wireshark is a packet and network protocol analyzer. It is used for network troubleshooting, analysis, software and communications protocol development, and education. It can help developers identify security issues, troubleshoot network performance issues, and can even support them with traffic optimization.
Why developers love it: It gives developers the ability to identify problems and solve them quickly.
Fiddler: The Fiddler tool is a network proxy that helps developers debug web applications by capturing network traffic between the internet and test computers. The tool inspects incoming and outgoing data to monitor and modify requests and responses before a browser receives them. It provides developers with visibility of network traffic while they build apps.
Why developers love it: It promotes a holistic debugging and troubleshooting approach that is radically intuitive for developers.
React Dev Tools: React DevTools is a browser extension that helps developers debug React applications. It supports devs with verifying a component’s props and state, addressing performance issues, and inspecting context values.
Why developers love it: It’s a useful tool for anyone working with React.js applications as it helps you understand what issues might exist so you can address them faster.
Tools that provide useful and actionable resources
Why developers love it: It provides a wealth of materials that facilitate professional development and adopting best practices.
DevDocs.io: DevDocs is an open source repository that includes documentation for various developer tools in a single searchable user interface. It was designed to be very easy to use, and each API is laid out in the same clear hierarchy. It currently exists as part of freeCodeCamp.
Why developers love it: It offers lots of useful information that developers have shared for other developers, in a great interface.
Tools that empower developers to code with confidence
Rubocop: RuboCop is a Ruby code style checker and formatter that is based on the community-driven Ruby style Guide. It can be set up to support multiple coding styles, reports problems in a developer’s code, and can also automatically fix some problems.
Why developers love it: It acts like a live-in copy editor for developers working in Ruby, ensuring they don’t have glaring mistakes in their code.
Dependabot: Dependabot is a tool that updates dependencies automatically, so developers can spend more time building. It can be set up with key information such as the types of dependencies to update, where the manifest is located, and how often it should look for updates. This is useful from a security perspective as it ensures that any security-related dependencies are updated to mitigate vulnerabilities.
Why developers love it: Developers don’t have to spend much active time worrying about dependencies.
VS Code: VS Code is an intelligent code editor that supports developers with debugging, syntax highlighting, intelligent code completion, snippets, code refactoring, and embedded Git. Its IntelliSense feature completes code so that developers can move faster. It also has powerful editing features, and built-in source code control.
Why developers love it: It helps them create and deploy code with ease.
Tools that make your team more effective
Netlify Dev: A tool for Netlify’s production routing engine users, Netlify Dev lets developers run a local instance of Netlify on their own devices. Its zero-config setup makes it easy to run an instance in minutes, pulling the correct environment variables from the site environment, so that developers can develop for the web in a productive and predictable manner.
Why developers love it: It brings confidence that the code they write on their local machine will behave as intended when it is published to the world.
Ngrok: Ngrok is an ingress platform that makes apps available on the internet via any cloud, private network, or device. It enables remote access to apps and APIs running on a local host, thus increasing productivity while building and validating software. It also fosters collaboration and allows teams to run integration tests with SaaS services and APIs.
Why developers love it: It eliminates repetitive tasks and reduces the time spent packaging and deploying apps during testing.
PagerDuty: PagerDuty is an incident response platform that receives data from monitoring systems any time there is a problem and sends alerts to the responsible individuals. Set up properly, it ensures only the right people are called at the right time, reducing the burden of being on call. It also facilitates incident learning after a problem has taken place.
Why developers love it: It makes incident response faster and more precise, and reduces on-call fatigue.
Tools that foster productivity
Espanso: Espanso is a text expander that helps people write faster by replacing established keywords with longer alternatives. For example, if you have a term or string of code that you write often, you could input it as a shorter keyword. It can also be used to write custom scripts.
Why developers love it: It saves time and helps developers get their ideas out faster.
Reclaim.ai: Reclaim is a smart scheduling tool that creates schedules based on a team’s priorities. It maximizes a person’s availability without jamming their calendar with meetings. It’s adaptive, in that it responds to changes in their schedule to shift events from “free” to “busy,” thus optimizing their time.
Why developers love it: It helps them use their time effectively and focus more on the work they want to do.
Okta: Okta single sign-on ensures developers are signed into all the tools they need, with just one login. This saves time and reduces the need for multiple passwords, thus improving password hygiene within the team. On the flip side, from a developer tooling perspective, Okta also has made it much easier for developers to build authentication into their products.
Why developers love it: They can access all of their work applications from one landing page.
Tools that rely on automation and enable developers to self serve
Github Actions: GitHub Actions is a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) platform that allows developers to automate their build, test, and deployment pipeline.They can create workflows that build and test every pull request in the repository, or deploy merged pull requests to production.
Why developers love it: It leverages pre-built actions from the community so developers can set up their essential CI/CD in minutes.
CoPilot: GitHub Copilot is a cloud-based artificial intelligence tool developed by GitHub and OpenAI to assist users of various development environments by autocompleting code. Developers can make requests in natural language, within the editor, and GitHub Copilot turns it into coding suggestions across dozens of languages.
Why developers love it: It helps developers write code faster, so that they can get features and products to market faster.
Codespaces: GitHub Codespaces lets developers spin up development environments that are hosted in the cloud. This allows developers to code from any devices, onboard easily into new projects, model and analyze data, and fix bugs from a pull request. It lets developers skip the tedious, error-prone stuff that normally stands between them and actually getting started on real work.
What developers love about it: It’s easy to spin up and it simplifies using or contributing to a repo.
OpsLevel: OpsLevel is an internal developer platform (IDP) that enables developers to self-serve on specific operational tasks such as provisioning infra, updating secrets, or creating a new S3 bucket. It also offers a single pane of glass view into all the information developers need to unblock themselves and move faster.
Why developers love it: Developers can take action immediately, without having to wait for platform engineers to respond to tickets.
Some honorable mentions
As you can tell, we got a big collection of submissions from our developers, and we couldn’t do them all justice. Below are some of the honorable mentions that didn’t make it to the main list.
- Visual Studio code workspace configs that let you share setups and plugins for each repo
- GitUp to visualize your gits and scale back changes as needed
Framework- and library-dependant browser extensions:
- Apollo Client Devtools
- Grid Ruler
- JSON Formatter
- SAML DevTools extension
- Vue.js devtools
- Zoom Closer
At OpsLevel, we’re empowering developers to do more with our internal developer platform. Our portal is designed to boost your team’s productivity and build, fix, and maintain your software more effectively. Talk to one of our specialists to learn more.