Top Five Software Development Tools [An Overview]

According to recent statistics, properly set and documented requirements, sufficient budgeting, healthy team management, ample testing and robust development tools are among key factors that contribute to avoiding software project failure. While developers cannot influence budgeting, they can certainly choose efficient tools that will increase team performance and produce a high-quality solution.

Before diving into software rankings that app developer teams find most useful, we will try to answer the question: “What are software development tools?”. They are the programs that are designed to create, maintain, check out and support other software.

No one can make a comprehensive list of software development tools that will suit every single team, with varying size, work specifics, focus and objectives. However, we have chosen five programming instruments that are most commonly used worldwide.

Code Text Editors

The majority of programmers recognize the primary importance of tools that help them write healthy software, such as code text editors. Programs’ key functions are the following:

  • The check of software code for possible errors
  • Text file edit
  • Automated text formatting, including code formatting or indentation

Usually, text editors can work with any programming language instead of focusing on a specific one. In addition to their primary features, such as code writing and editing, plugins and add-ons can extend editors’ functionality. In such a manner, a plain text editor can become a code debugger or can format a code automatically.

When choosing such an instrument, a user should pay close attention to the plugin availability as the performance and the development speed of a tool depends heavily on it. Like a myriad of other programs, editors may be both heavy-weighted but providing a wide range of out-of-the-box features, and light-weighted but fast and demanding considerable feature extension.

Speaking of specific examples, the most popular software that allows developers to be confident of their code correctness and enable its mastering are Sublime Text, Vim and Atom.

Top development tools

Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

Since an IDE is a set of basic tools that allows writing software and testing it, one may think that it is a one-stop shop that eliminates the need for others. Indeed, a typical IDE includes the following functionality:

  • Code text editing
  • Code build automation
  • Debugging

Modern IDEs are also packed with the features, such as:

  • Interpreting
  • Compiling
  • Error detection
  • Code completion
  • Others

These features may be executed by a standalone app that resembles a word processor or can be performed by an integrated tool. Despite the fact that such complex instruments allow managing a code incrementally and uniformly and possess diverse functionality, they cannot provide the native performance of code editors or debuggers.

Because of its focus on code editing, it’s hardly unique that IDEs are usually mixed up with text editors. However, while the latter cover all programming languages, most IDEs specialize in certain ones, so there are tools for JavaScript, PHP, Python and others. At the same time, some of them support multiple languages.

Along with the expansion of cloud-based technologies, a growing number of IDEs are offered via SaaS model as it grants the following advantages:

  • High accessibility
  • Easy installation
  • Flawless team collaboration

Most commonly used IDEs are Microsoft Visual Studio, IntelliJ and Eclipse, as they provide a comprehensive combination of robust performance and a wide range of available features and supported programming languages.

Top development tools

SQL Databases

Oracle 12c, MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server are the three SQL databases that have certainly stolen the show. Used for database creation and administration, they allow the enhanced management of the following components through a web-based UI:

  • Tables
  • Columns
  • Users
  • Relations
  • Permissions
  • Indexes
  • And more

In turn, SQL databases support multiple instruments that are designed for various purposes, including:

  • Creation: to design, build and modify database files
  • Administration: to monitor the database structure and generate commands
  • Comparison: to analyze the differences in database structures

Top development tools

Debuggers

The most important condition of any software’s performance is its flawless operation and error- and bug-free code. That is why the tools that audit the application code for possible aberrations and eliminate them have gained great popularity.

Such tools can run on instruction set simulators (ISS), as well as on appropriate processors. While the latter technique is faster, ISS allows stopping in case of revealed abnormal conditions and alerting of them. Some debuggers use both operation techniques to counterbalance their advantages and disadvantages.

Depending on the programming language they’re purposed for, there is a wide range of instruments that work with specific code languages, such as:

  • JavaScript (JSON Formatter And Validator, Firebug, etc.)
  • PHP (Pinba, PHP DYN, others)
  • .NET (MDbg.exe Visual Studio command-line debugger, SOS Visual Studio extension, and more)
  • C# (OzCode Visual Studio extension, Rider EAP, etc.)

Top development tools

Testing tools

As software quality is usually a company’s primary concern, iterative application testing has closely penetrated the development process. Although in some cases manual testing may deliver more thorough results because of people’s high pattern recognition, it certainly is a much more time- and resource-consuming technique. Automated testing helps IT teams crank out recurrent operations and perform those that are too complicated for humans within a short time, such as:

  • Search
  • Data classification
  • Data cataloging

Various groups of testing software were developed to facilitate the software checkup in accordance with the testing activities. Some of them possess limited functionality, but the majority can perform multiple operations.

Test Management Tools

Depending on the chosen testing technique, whether it’s manual or automated, test management instruments apply different audit methods and workbenches. However, they are used to manage both the manual and automated testing process: to plan it, monitor and report its state.

  • Such programs significantly facilitate testing as they allow to:
  • Access the required data quickly and easily
  • Collect execution data
  • Improve team collaboration
  • Govern several environments
  • Record revealed defects

Most commonly used programs for test management are qTest, PractiTest and Zephyr.

Static Testing Tools

One way to detect software runtime errors is to check its code while it is not executed. So, Veracode, Checkmarx, Coverity and other static testing instruments are useful when a software needs to be checked against a non-runtime environment. Also, they allow to monitor app runtime performance, reveal code aberrations, weaknesses and possible gaps.

Static testing starts in the early stages of a software lifecycle and lasts for the entire project. With that, static analysis programs do not demand a computer as they perform the inspection, reviewing, comprehensive audit and other operations, without running the code.

Tools for Test Specification

Utility software such as Caliber RBT, File-AID, Smarttesting and others allow testing teams to make specifications properly by generating test inputs and outcomes, test criteria and test data.

Test Execution Tools

Test execution instruments, a.k.a. capture or replay or test running tools, are basic ones as they allow running code checkups in principle. Most software testers choose test execution utility software for automated testing as it enables quick and efficient test script running. However, the essence of these programs is that they are built on scripts, so they demand sufficient skills in test script writing and modification. The most in-demand test execution ones are Selenium, Quick Test Professional (QTP) and Rational Functional Tester (RFT).

Test Performance and Monitoring Tools

These utility software monitor applications’ behaviors under various stress conditions or in normal usage, and for this, they do the following operations:

  • Log performance data
  • Alert users of possible aberrations and defects
  • Suggest possible way-outs
  • Monitor network users and traffic

Programs such as Cuckoo Sandbox, The Grinder and EventSentry encourage permanent user awareness of the software state and the security level of IT systems.

Top development tools

Software Development Tools Not to Miss

Although tools for mobile software development are not among the five tools that developers consider the best, they must not be left unmentioned as nowadays more and more companies go mobile. The creation of mobile apps has gained traction, which resulted in the creation of billions of open-source and fee-based apps.

The coexistence of several platforms for mobile software development has resulted in the emergence of multiple instruments for the creation of cross-platform mobile apps. As a consequence, RhoMobile, PhoneGap, Appcelerator and others enable app building for various mobile operating systems, including iOS, Android and Windows Phone, with close consideration of multiple user interfaces, front- and back-ends. Both native and multi-platform, they ensure the conformance with technical and user requirements and allow turning desktop and web applications into full-fledged user-friendly mobile ones.

Besides these top five groups of tools used in software development, there is a wide range of others for:

  • Bug tracking
  • User interface design
  • Prototype creation
  • Project management
  • Code audit
  • NoSQL databases
  • Others

Despite the large variety of functions that multiple instruments for software building perform, what they all have in common is that users need them to be efficient, time- effective and cost-cutting. And their capability to provide fruitful collaboration and communication within a team is always the icing on the cake.

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About the author

Yuliya Shaptunova
Yuliya Shaptunova

A content writer at SaM Solutions, Yuliya is anxious to create and deliver relevant experiences. She evangelizes corporate knowledge on expertise and innovations that the company provides.

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