On average, it takes businesses as much as nine months to build a custom software product. Engage the right developer (or team of developers) for the task and equip them with the right software development tools, and you can cut this time in half!
This blend of people, processes, and technology lays the perfect foundation for breathing life into your unique idea. Once you use this recipe to beat time and realize your vision, you can easily leverage the software product as a competitive advantage!
While there isn’t much we can recommend on the “people” end of things, we sure have a few solid recommendations for the right set of technologies to curate perfect processes. Here’s a lowdown on some of the best software development tools.
What is a Software Development Tool?
A software development tool is a program or an application aimed to assist developers during the software development lifecycle (SDLC). These tools have distinct roles in the various stages of the SDLC and help in processes like creating, modifying, testing, debugging, and maintaining the resulting software product, program, application, or system.
11 Best Software Development Tools To Use In 2023
Here is our list of the 11 best software development tools, along with their cost, use cases, features, pros, and cons:
1. Nifty: An All-in-One Software Development Management Tool
Nifty is a one-stop productivity suite that can facilitate various facets of project management and development. For starters, it is a digital workspace that acts as an equalizer for all stakeholders, be it developers, managers, product owners, etc.
Nifty brings everyone on the same page, which eliminates the need for seeking or issuing constant updates and follow-ups. One can simply use the highly intuitive and visual dashboard that presents data visually to offer a bird’s eye view of all the progress and the tasks underway.
It also sets up channels of external and internal communication to improve chances of success. After all, nearly 1/4th of software development projects fail due to poor communication!
Next up, it serves as a centralized knowledge hub for all your software development documentation, from requirements to risk mitigation and control strategies to test logs.
Finally, it offers native integration with other popular software development tools like GitHub, Jira, Webex, Harvest, Miro, Slack, and more.
Nifty is not just the best software development tool, it is the mother of all software development tools!
- Free: $0
- Starter: $39 per month (billed annually)
- Pro: $79 per month (billed annually)
- Business: $124 per month (billed annually)
- Unlimited: $399 per month (billed annually)
Nifty is one of the best agile software development tools as you can use it for:
- Planning: Use Nifty as a Scrum Whiteboard to plan and strategize the software development process.
- Prioritizing: Assign priorities to various ideas, feedback, improvements, backlogs, and more.
- Roadmapping: Factor in priorities and dependencies to prepare a development roadmap.
- Documenting: Collect and share software-related documents such as product requirements, scope, specifications, deliverables, etc.
- Collaborate: Host daily stand-ups or collect feedback from the product owner, everything in real-time.
- Managing: Run sprint cycles, assign tasks and resources, build and automate workflows, track time/task goals, and more!
- Project Portfolios to organize different projects, control participation, manage ownership, and gain a high-level view.
- Visualize software development projects in the timeline, swimlane, list, Kanban, calendar, or master view.
- Time tracking to manage workloads, track costs, and progress, and improve efficiency.
- Centralize communication and collaborate with other developers/team members.
- Real-time reporting with granular insights on project status, milestones, budgets, etc.
Take the next step; Simplify your software development process with Nifty.
- Highly versatile and capable of adapting to any software development style or technique.
- Native integration with an assortment of software development tools.
- Multiple project views with colorful and value-loaded illustrations.
- Seamless collaboration and communication amongst the development team and with the stakeholders.
- Ready-to-use, intuitive templates to get started.
- Dashboard customization may feel limited.
- Time logs are immutable.
2. GitHub: For Community-Driven Software Development process
Git is an open-source, distributed version control system, and GitHub is one of the largest cloud-based Git repositories. Software developers use it to publish code, follow each other, do code reviews, peer codes, follow projects, and communicate with each other. Think of it as a social networking platform for developers!
- Free: $0
- Team: $4 per user per month (billed annually)
- Enterprise: $21 per user per month (billed annually)
As a software development tool, GitHub allows users to manage projects, store code, build software, review other’s code, collaborate on code security,, seek solutions, and pitch projects.
- Git-based version controlling to track changes to code.
- Collaborative coding to develop a community around a program or solution.
- Automation of various software development processes, like planning, approvals, management, etc.
- Private repositories for sharing codes only with authorized users.
- Threat analysis to identify vulnerabilities before they become a nuisance.
- GitHub Marketplace for plug-and-play software development tools or apps.
- Hosting a public repository is available for free.
- PullRequest allows developers to review, discuss, and merge changes to a code.
- Dependabot performs automatic vulnerability testing and updating versions.
- Offers diverse perspectives on a similar problem.
- CI/CD is a bit underwhelming.
- Difficulty in permanently deleting unwanted files and folders.
3. Jira: For Issue and Bug Tracking During Development
Jira is a subscription-based work management tool. It enjoys a solid reputation as an agile software development tool, primarily due to its issue and bug-tracking capabilities.
Additionally, its DevOps-oriented suite of cloud tools and services allows efficient tracking of backlogs, agile release status, bug resolution, security updates and patches, and more.
- Free: $0
- Standard: $7.75 per user (billed monthly)
- Premium: $15.25 per user (billed monthly)
- Enterprise: Custom
As mentioned, Jira is an excellent agile software development tool and must be used while following agile methodologies during software development.
- Interactive timelines for project road mapping and tracking.
- Project overview through agile boards (Scrum and Kanban).
- Backlog view to reprioritize tasks by importance and urgency.
- Custom workflows with access to importable templates in the Atlassian Marketplace.
- Rule-based automations.
Make the smart move; Choose Nifty over Jira.
Sign up for Nifty
- It is suitable for any kind of product development – software or otherwise.
- Seamless integration with a wide variety of third-party and Marketplace apps.
- Comes with RESTful API to push and pull data into Jira from other tools.
- High barrier to entry paired with a steep learning curve.
- An overly complicated user interface, which causes a trade-off in performance.
4. Bitbucket: Git Version Control System by Atlassian
Bitbucket is essentially a dedicated GitHub for Jira users. It is a Git repository hosted by Atlassian and performs revision and version control. Like GitHub, Bitbucket offers the option to host or access a public repository for the free version and a private repository for the paid version. Users can collaborate on code, pull requests, track bugs, and more.
- Free: $0
- Standard: $3 per user
- Premium: $6 per user
Bitbucket is typically used as a source code repository and for a centralized version control system.
- Powerful commit-level review system that fetches updated code easily.
- Allows multiple code reviewers to work collaboratively.
- Supports Cloud, Server, and Data Center hosting.
- Use in-line comments and conversation threads for code-level discussions.
- Built-in issue tracker that can be configured using variables like milestone, version, etc.
- Integrated query management systems and bug-tracking tools.
- Compatibility with other DevOps and agile software development tools.
- Works with GitHub for code authentication and private repository management.
- It primarily focuses on Jira customers, which limits its scope and reach.
5. Cloud9 IDE: For Software Development in the AWS Environment
Cloud9 IDE or AWS Cloud9 is a cloud-based integrated development environment (IDE) backed by Amazon. This software development tool combines the Ubuntu workspace with an online code editor, allowing developers to write, run, and debug codes using just their browser. This IDE setup includes a code editor, debugger, and terminal, along with a pre-installed AWS Command Line Interface (CLI).
Cloud9 has a pay-per-use policy where you only have to pay for the resources utilized while storing or running the code. You can connect with AWS specialists for a free trial and personalized quote.
Cloud9 IDE can be used for:
- Creating, running, and debugging codes in a Serverless Application Model (SAM).
- Software development in the AWS ecosystem and while using AWS services.
- Developing complex software products or working with disparate teams.
- Powerful browser-based editor to write, run, and debug codes.
- Built-in terminal with sudo privileges to Linux server.
- Cloud-based service that is accessible from anywhere.
- Serverless development with integrated software development kits, debugger, tools, and libraries.
- Code Completion suggestion and hinting makes software development quicker.
- Offers absolute freedom over the software development and testing environments.
- Compatible with almost all major programming languages.
- Bypasses the need for setting up, configuring, and maintaining individual development systems.
- Integration with AWS CodeStar enables the setting up of a continuous delivery toolchain for quick deployment.
- Project execution can be slow and even shut down in instances.
- UI looks obsolete and is difficult to navigate.
6. Bootstrap: Front-End Development Tool
Bootstrap is the best software development tool for working with Java, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and HyperText Markup Language (HTML).
- Free: $0 (limited to 10 users)
- Pro: $15 per month (limited to 20 users)
- Enterprise: $29 per month (limited to 30 users)
Bootstrap is best used for:
- Client-side software development
- Developing cross-platform, cross-device software solutions
- Teams familiar with HTML and CSS
- Pre-built components that make development quick and painless.
- Contains an extensive list of components like drop-down menus, alert boxes, navigation bars, alerts, progress bars, etc.
- Sass variables to customize global CSS values in one go.
- Includes jQuery plugin library to incorporate advanced functionalities.
- Responsive utility classes for multi-screen displays.
- Mobile-first development grants the software application an edge.
- Bootstrap templates and themes are readily available online.
- Copious community support with ample resources.
- Lacks distinct customization capabilities.
- Clunky and heavyweight architecture that hinders performance.
More than 120 teams signed up or migrated to Nifty last week.
Be one of them
7. Node.js: Best Server-Side Software Development Tool
Free and open-source.
You can use Node.js for:
- Developing streaming solutions, chatbots, and collaboration tools,
- Building real-time data applications like dashboards and Single Page Applications (SPAs),
- Creating solutions based on the microservice architecture.
- Asynchronicity Node.js applications to handle high volumes of requests.
- Single-thread request handling also ensures non-blocking of I/O operations.
- The single-thread, event-driven loop imparts high scalability.
- Generates self-sufficient and cross-platform executable codes.
- Efficient resource optimization saves time and money while speeding up software development.
- Supports application growth in horizontal and vertical orientations through the addition of nodes.
- Carries high technical debt, which brings down performance, especially during heavy computation.
- Takes up an inordinate amount of memory resulting in out-of-memory error.
8. Linx: Best Low-Code Software Development Tool
Our list of best software development tools will be incomplete without the mention of Linx. After all, no-code and low-code software development frameworks have triggered a wave of citizen developers by making software development accessible to all.
The Linx development platform comes with a Linx Designer (IDE), Plugins, and Server. Such a comprehensive software development tool helps develop customized, scalable, and robust backend solutions
- Starter: $149 per month per server (billed monthly)
- Business: $299 per month per server (billed monthly)
- Enterprise: $599 per month per server (billed monthly)
- 3 Solutions: $599 per month (billed annually)
- 9 Solutions: $1,399 per month (billed annually)
- 20 Solutions: $2,599 per month (billed annually)
- 40 Solutions: $4,999 per month (billed annually)
Linx can be used for:
- System consolidation through integration
- Business process automation
- Low-code development
- Low-code implementation of backend logic and process automation.
- Integration of dissimilar systems to supercharge developer productivity.
- APIs to enable communication between disparate systems.
- One-click deployment on-premise, in the cloud, or both.
- 100+ built-in programming functions, services, actions, and automations.
- Interactive and easy-to-use interface with drag-and-drop functionality.
- Adding plugins or features and extending API capabilities is easy.
- Supports rapid build and quick deployment.
- Lacks the ability to import project files from other commonly used IDEs.
- Has a steep learning curve.
9. Vim: Powerful Text Based Software Development Tool
Vim is a software development tool that expands on the capabilities of the UNIX editor Vi. As a full-featured text editor, Vim comes equipped with advanced capabilities that help with efficient text editing while coding. It offers a seamless user experience and lightning-fast speed, thereby making it popular amongst developers.
Free and open-source. However, all contributions to Vim development go to International Child Care Fund Holland, earning it the title of “charityware.”
Vim is primarily used for code writing, rapid development, and editing. That said, you can also use this software development tool for text editing and manipulation.
- It is a highly configurable, screen-based text editor (technically, not an IDE).
- Since it lacks a GUI, it makes use of keybindings (key shortcuts).
- Comes with Vimscript, a native Vim language that aids in the creation of custom automation and plugins for efficient workflows.
- Uses a distinct modal editing system assigned to specific tasks, such as normal mode for text manipulation and navigation, insert mode for text editing and insertion, and so on.
- Supports syntax highlighting for a variety of programming languages.
- Lightweight, open-source, free to use, and enjoys community support.
- High customization capabilities allow developers to tailor Vim to their specific needs, preferences, and styles.
- Has built-in features like syntax highlighting, search and replace, code folding, and regular expressions.
- Lacks an interactive GUI, which can be difficult to navigate by keyboard alone, especially for beginners.
- One has to have prior knowledge of the UNIX environment to utilize certain features.
10. Docker: For Unit-Based Software Development
Docker is an agile software development tool that grants developers the freedom and flexibility to code in the language, framework, or architecture of their choice. It does so through a process called containerization, which packages the executable code with the operating system (OS) libraries and dependencies to make it platform-agnostic.
- Personal: $0
- Pro: $5 per month
- Team: $9 per user per month (minimum 5 seats)
- Business: $24 per user per month (minimum 5 seats)
Docker is most well-known for the delivery of microservices and for building a microservice-based architecture.
- Build once, run anywhere – a Docker container will operate the same anywhere, regardless of its environment.
- Highly modular and lightweight application that can scale efficiently depending on the workload.
- Follows a distributed application model with a service-oriented architecture.
- The distributed nature of the application makes it more secure and reliable as failure or threat remains isolated.
- As an agile software development tool, it focuses on the development aspect and delinks operations.
- Software applications built using Docker will be highly consistent in terms of design, development, performance, maintenance, etc.
- It is far more efficient to create, test, and debug bite-sized code and use it to build a larger solution than the monolithic approach.
- Offers a high degree of security and threat neutralization.
- Managing large volumes of containers can get progressively difficult.
- Docker applications lack cross-platform compatibility.
11. Azure: Best Full-Cycle Software Development Tool
With nearly 2.5 million websites as Azure customers, it is a software development tool that needs no introduction. Backed by Microsoft, Azure is one of the best software development tools used to build, deploy, debug, and manage cloud-based web applications.
Microsoft offers comprehensive Azure pay-as-you-go packages with high variability and flexibility. Contact support for an accurate estimate.
Microsoft Azure supports end-to-end serverless, full-stack software development. As a result, you can use it during any stage of the SDLC or throughout. Further, it packs tons of advanced features, and functionalities, such as Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS), which also makes it one of the best agile software development tools.
- It can be configured as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
- Hybrid cloud-native architecture, where organizations can choose on-prem infrastructure or hosted Azure services.
- Comprehensive cloud-based data storage and management services.
- Single-pane operations to get an overview of your hybrid environments.
- Grants developers absolute freedom to pick and choose the coding language and style of their choice.
- Access to 90+ compliance certifications, of which 50 are region or country-specific.
- Optimum blend of high security, availability, scalability, and cost-effectiveness.
- The feature-packed nature of the platform can make it seem overwhelming, especially for beginners.
- Requires expert management and platform proficiency to maximize returns.
How To Choose The Best Software Development Tools?
Choosing the best software development tools for your project can significantly impact its success. Here are several factors to consider when selecting software development tools:
- Project Requirements:
- Start by understanding the specific requirements of your project. Consider factors like the project’s size, complexity, and purpose (e.g., web app, mobile apps, desktop software, etc.).
- Technology Stack:
- Identify the programming languages, frameworks, and platforms you’ll be using. Your tools should be compatible with your chosen tech stack.
- Development Team:
- Consider the skills and preferences of your development team. Some tools may be better suited to the expertise of your team members.
- Evaluate your budget constraints. Some tools are open-source or free, while others require a subscription or one-time purchase. Factor in licensing costs, if applicable.
- Think about the scalability of the tool. Will it be suitable for your project’s growth and expansion? Does it support multiple developers working on the project simultaneously?
- Community and Support:
- Check if there is an active user community and good support for the tool. Active communities often mean more resources, plugins, and updates.
- Consider how well the tool integrates with other tools and systems you use, such as version control, project management, and deployment tools.
- Ease of Use:
- Evaluate the tool’s user interface and ease of use. A steep learning curve can slow down development initially.
Use the best software development tools shared above to cut short time-to-market, optimize resource utilization, develop a feature-rich solution, and increase ROI.
However, before committing to any of the software development tools, make sure that it can satisfy business requirements, and that your software projects team can work with it. After all, your software development team is as good as the software programming tools that they use – and vice versa!
What are software tools used for?
As the name indicates, software development tools are used to create software applications, as a whole or in part, to address a specific issue or innovate an existing solution.
What are the tools used in software development?
Some of the best software development tools include:
- Cloud 9
Which tool is best in software development?
Unfortunately, there is no direct answer to this question. Your choice of “best” software development may depend on multiple factors, such as the nature of the application, its technical specifications, the skills and capabilities of the developer, and the existing tech stack of your organization, to name a few.