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Best Developer Tools for Students

Article updated August 2020

At first, learning software development can feel like being lost in a maze…like the weird, scary maze from the Labyrinth. 

You’re learning languages upon languages, equations and variables, time management and organization – it’s madness I tell you, madness!! 

But fear not! Learning software development in 2020 means that you have numerous tools at your disposal to help ease the transition from normal human to coding master. 

And the best part?! Many of these products, including GitKraken, are FREE for students through the GitHub Student Developer Pack

Get GitKraken Pro Suite Free through the GitHub Student Developer Pack today!

Get GitKraken Pro Suite for Students Free

We asked our community, including our GitKraken Ambassadors in the education space, to share which tools they recommend for student developers. 

Here are the top 5 developer tools for students: 

  1. GitKraken Git GUI
  2. GitHub
  3. Visual Studio Code Editor
  4. Slack
  5. GitKraken Boards

1️⃣ GitKraken Git GUI 

Learning Git as a student can set you apart from your classmates and will make you more attractive to prospective employers.

Get GitKraken Pro Suite free through the GitHub Student Developer Pack!

Learning the fundamentals of Git, a robust and complex version control system (VCS), as a student will enable you to quickly jump in and collaborate with future colleagues when you join your first development team. 

Something notoriously difficult about learning Git is visualizing what’s happening under the hood, as the command line interface can be extremely cryptic. GitKraken’s UI is the best on the market, offering a great deal of visibility into all aspects of your project, including branches and commits. 

See how how different commit history looks in GitKraken vs the command line in this article: The GitKraken Git GUI vs the CLI.  

I recommend GitKraken to my students because the visual representation of the change history helps them understand the complex branching and forking features of Git. GitKraken also makes it easy to accomplish common tasks.

– Justin Hunt, teacher at Georgian College in Ontario, Canada

GitKraken makes it so much easier to see what’s visually happening; I absolutely love the UI.

– Dan, full stack development student at Helios Training

The best part?! Students can get GitKraken Pro Suite for free through the GitHub Student Developer pack, which includes our in-app code editor, allowing you to create and edit files directly in GitKraken. The GitKraken Pro Suite also includes Pro licenses of GitKraken Boards and GitKraken Timelines

2️⃣ GitHub

GitHub is a Git repository hosting service used by millions of developers worldwide who utilize Git for version control on their coding projects. 

The 2019 State of Software Development Report by Coding Sans shows that over 91% of organizations polled are using Git for version control, with 34.53% using GitHub.com for project management (the 2020 Report shows a year-over-year increase to 43.22% 🚀). Having an understanding of this tool will better prepare you for entering the workforce. 

GitHub is far more than a place to store code; it is a meeting place that supports communities of practice and fosters collaboration.

– Alexey, software developer and PhD student at the University of Virginia, Why You Should Use GitHub: Lessons for the Classroom

Alexey goes on to outline various ways educators can use GitHub, including tracking student progress, collecting students assignments, encouraging in-class participation, and more. 

GitHub has done an incredible job of supporting both students and teachers alike through the GitHub Education initiative. Students can receive free developer tools through the GitHub Student Developer Pack, apply to become a GitHub Campus Expert, seek funding for student hackathons, and work to become a GitHub intern. 

3️⃣ Visual Studio Code Editor

Some of the elements developers love about GitKraken are also present in Visual Studio Code, a code editor by Microsoft. Offering an intuitive UI with a prominent sidebar, powerful defaults, discoverable extensions, and more, VS Code provides a simple and clean code editing platform for student developers. 

Visual Studio Code comes fairly complete out of the box, but there are many plugins available to extend its functionality.


VS Code users appreciate the ability to organize files by folder or project; there is also smart editing for built-in languages like JavaScript and Typescript, which can come in handy for students who are constantly being introduced to new coding languages. 

Visual Studio Code is an ideal editor for beginners. What I like most is that it’s easy to use, stable and powerful. It’s easy to order the code lines or labels, and I like the search of files because it’s intuitive and fast.

– Cristian, G2Crowd

4️⃣ Slack 

Slack, the increasingly popular communication tool, is used by teams and corporations worldwide. Not only will gaining experience using Slack help students adapt to your future workplace, but there are countless communities within the application for students to join to share and obtain information. 

The GitKraken Slack Community, for example, offers channels for asking support questions, communicating with other users, and submitting feature requests with our product team. We even have an off-topic channel where users share personal interests, humorous memes, and more viral content. 

Are you a member of a local dev meetup or your school’s computer science club? Do you volunteer at a tech-based nonprofit? It’s common for groups like these to have community Slack channels. 

There are also communities for specialities within the tech industry, like this one for iOS developers

With many online forums, Slack is a great way to meet other like-minded people, share helpful information, and support each other. Be sure to read and respect each community’s Code of Conduct. 

5️⃣ GitKraken Boards 

Offering integrations with the top two tools, GitKraken Boards provides a platform to track tasks and issues across projects. Task management is often not a prioritized skill for students, despite the fact that it can make or break you in the workplace. Taking the time to practice issue tracking and time management now will serve you well in the years to come, and will set you apart from the pack. 

Use GitKraken Boards to track your issues, and then manage those issues directly from the GitKraken Git GUI through the seamless issue tracking integration. Plus, students can connect GitKraken Boards to GitHub to set up workflow automations, link cards to pull requests, and sync with GitHub Issues and GitHub Milestones to see your changes reflected across both systems.

GitKraken Boards has helped me and my classmates easily set and meet deadlines for our CS projects and collaborate better.

– Gatare Libère, student at Kabarak University in Nakuru, Kenya

GitKraken Boards makes it easy to collaborate with teammates and see what action items need to get done. Students can assign tasks to other team members and track those tasks to completion. You can even create and share public boards with classmates who don’t have a GitKraken account—all you need is a URL! 

Better yet, GitKraken Boards can be accessed via a mobile app, making it convenient to organize to-do items for all your classes, and even personal projects or inspiration boards, while at your computer or on the go. This incredible tool is free for all!

You can leverage GitKraken Boards to have a personal Kanban board for all your studies. It doesn’t need to be bound to specific software projects.

– Kevin Wittek, teacher at the Institute for Internet Security in NRW, Germany

Become a Better Developer with GitKraken 

I teach my students to use GitKraken because it’s easy to use, understand, and has beautiful UI/UX.

– Omar Jair Purata Funes, teacher at Universidad de Guanajuato in León, Mexico

GitKraken has helped thousands of students globally learn Git and reach their potential as software developers. Join the movement and get GitKraken Pro Suite free through the GitHub Student Developer Pack to level up your game, impress classmates, and land that future dream job. 

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