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Top 20 Developer Tools for 2020

When it comes to the most popular technologies, we look to Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey 2019 to find the answers. JavaScript continues to be the most commonly used programming language for 7 years in a row, while Python is the fastest growing. 

If you want to find out what tools these developers are using, that’s where our survey comes in. For the fourth year in a row, Axosoft asked our global community of software developers to tweet their top 5 #MustHaveDevTools. We received 700 responses this year and ranked the tools in order of most votes. 

Let’s dive into the best IDEs, platforms, and apps for software development in 2020! We’ll take a look at which tools continue to gain traction year-over-year, which have fallen from favor, and which new tools have entered the space.

Number 1 Tool for Software Developers

1. GitKraken: the legendary cross-platform Git GUI for Windows, Mac, and Linux. 

#1️⃣ for 4 years in a row! Also voted #1 Git GUI in the 2020 DevOps Tools Report

Since launching GitKraken in 2014, millions of developers now rely on GitKraken in combination with other top tools like GitHub (#7) and GitLab (#14) to efficiently utilize Git (#6) for source control management. 

Enough about us though; let’s look at the other 19 best developer tools and talk about the trends!

And the Golden Kraken Awards go to…

2. Visual Studio Code: a popular code editor for building and debugging web and cloud applications. 

#🥈for three years running. 👏Also voted the most popular development environment in Stack Overflow’s annual 2019 Developer Survey

3. Postman: A collaboration platform for faster API development. 

⬆️ 2 spots from 2019, 7 spots from 2018 & 10 spots from 2017 👏, Postman is a star on the rise! 🚀

4. Visual Studio: Not to be confused with VS Code, this integrated development environment includes tools and services for all platforms and languages. 

⬆️ 2 spots from 2019 and 9 spots from 2018, this IDE is relied upon by many developers.

Top 5-20 Developer Tools 

5. Docker: A container platform to build, manage, and secure applications. 

⬇️ 2 spots from last year, Docker is still widely used and loved by devs.

6. Git: A distributed version control system for tracking source code changes. 

⬇️ 2 spots from last year, but Git isn’t going anywhere. Git is the established VCS being used by over 90% of developers.

7. GitHub: A hosting site for over 100 million Git repositories. 

⬆️ 4 spots from 2019, there’s no doubt GitHub has an ever-growing community of over 40 million developers to date.

8. Sublime Text: A cross-platform text editor for code, markup, and prose. 

⬆️ 1 spot from last year, this text editor has consistently maintained position 7-9 on our list since 2017. 

9. IntelliJ IDEA: A Java IDE created by Jetbrains, which offers a fast and intuitive experience for coding software. 

⬆️ 1 spot from last year, this IDE has maintained position 9-11 on our list since 2017.

10 (tie). Command Line: A text interface for issuing commands to a computer program in the form of successive lines of text. 

*️⃣ New to the list. See how the GitKraken GUI compares to the CLI

10 (tie). PhpStorm: A Jetbrains’ IDE for PHP; compatible with Symfony, Laravel, Drupal, WordPress and more. 

🔁 After a brief absence in 2019, PhpStorm is back and up 4 spots from 2018. 

12. Oh My Zsh: An open-source framework for managing ZSH configurations. 

*️⃣ New to the list. And comin’ in hot! 🔥This community-driven tool is one to watch. 

13. Slack: Real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern teams.

⬇️ 1 spot this year. This has become an integral tool for communication amongst teams, including ours.

14. GitLab: A complete DevOps platform delivered as a single application. 

⬇️ 6 spots from last year, GitLab’s decline seems to be in response to GitHub’s gain.

15. Chrome DevTools: A set of developer tools built directly into the Google Chrome browser. 

⬇️ 8 spots from 2018 and 10 spots from 2017.  

16. iTerm2: A terminal emulator for macOS. 

🔁 After an absence in 2019, iTerm2 is back and up 3 spots from 2018.

17. Atom: A free, open-source, and cross-platform text editor. 

⬇️ 4 spots from 2019, 11 spots from 2018, and 15 spots from 2017. The decline seems to be in response to editors like VSCode and IDEs like Visual Studio taking over.

18. Android Studio: The official IDE for Android platform development.

 ⬇️ 1 spot from last year, but still a favorite amongst mobile developers.

19. PyCharm: Jetbrains’ IDE for Python. 

🔁 After an absence in 2018 and 2019, PyCharm is back but down 3 spots from 2017. 

20. Unity: A cross-platform tool for developing 2D, 3D, VR, and AR games.

*️⃣ New to the list. Game on. 🎮

Year-Over-Year Trends 

  • Postman is the tool to watch! Since first making our 2017 list at number 13, this tool has continued to rise in the ranks. Coming in at #9 on the 2018 list, and #5 on the 2019 list, before taking home this year’s bronze Kraken Award. 
  • 13 of the top 20 developer tools have made the list for 4 years in a row!
  • Jetbrains had three tools on this year’s list: IntelliJ IDEA at #9, PhpStorm at #10, and PyCharm at #19. 
  • Oh My Zsh and Unity were the only two tools to rank for the very first time.
  • GitHub took home the prize for the largest year-over-year gain, moving up 4 spots from #11 in 2019 to #7 for 2020. This gain seems to have come at the expense of GitLab.
  • The beloved Linux platform didn’t make the cut this year after appearing on our list of Top Dev Tools for 2019; along with Azure, Trello, Xcode and Eclipse IDE.
  • Chrome DevTools suffered the most significant drop, falling 8 spots to #15 for 2020 after ranking at #7 on the 2019 list. 
  • iTerm2 first made our list of Top Dev Tools for 2018 at #19. While it didn’t rank in last year’s list, it’s back at #16 for 2020! 
  • PhpStorm first made our list of Top Dev Tools for 2017 at #12 before dropping to #14 on our 2018 list. This tool didn’t get enough votes to make the list last year, but it looks like it’s gaining popularity again at #10 for 2020. 
  • PyCharm fell off the list for two years in a row after coming in at #16 on our 2017 list. This tool has resurfaced at #19 for 2020. 
  • Atom continues to fall in the ranks after coming in at #2 on the 2017 list, it has steadily fallen to #17 for 2020. 
  • Git fell for the first time, moving to #6 after coming in at #4 for three years in a row. With almost 90% of developers checking in their code via Git according to Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey 2018, it’s now simply the norm.
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