Keep Calm and Code On: Productivity Tools for Developers


Productivity turns into a vague concept when speaking of jobs in the technology environment. Programming is one of the areas where productivity is really hard to measure and manage: a developer’s productivity cannot be estimated in trivial figures like lines of code.

While many approaches to productivity management exist, adopting special tools for developers is a great way to improve team’s results. Alongside with the apps designed specifically for developers, general productivity tools that work for everyone can also be helpful for software development teams.

Work and Focus Management Tools

Let’s start with general productivity tools that help organize the work process regardless of the type of activity you’re engaged in. Keeping track of time, controlling workflow progress and blocking workplace distractions is important for everyone who needs to get things done.

1. actiTIME

This tool incorporates two primary features: time tracking and project management. Both of them can be of tremendous help in your efforts to improve productivity.

Just add projects and tasks to your work scope and commence tracking time right away. You can do that either manually through the desktop version or automatically with the mobile app and the Chrome extension (which is possible to implement right in your Jira, Github or GitLab account).

After a while, you will gather enough time tracking data to analyze how efficiently you utilize time. For this purpose, either review your personal time use trends in clear and easy-to-read charts or run comprehensive reports on team performance and statistics. In this way, actiTIME will provide you with all the information required to stimulate the productivity boost you are looking for.

2. Cold Turkey

A popular distraction-blocking app that helps you focus on work instead of anything funny and attractive on the desktop or in the Internet. Set it up to block your access to specific websites, the Internet as a whole or any applications on your computer to create a distraction-free environment. By affording all these capabilities, the app helps develop self-control habits and get more done in less time.

3. Strict Workflow

Experts say that 25-minute focusing sprints with 5-minute breaks are an efficient way to increase productivity. This idea is perfectly executed in the Chrome extension called Strict Workflow: set it up, start the timer and follow the recommended work-and-break cycles. Or, alternatively, you can use the traditional pomodoro technique with a kitchen timer to develop concentration and build up productivity habits.

4. Habitica

If you enjoy playing RPGs, why not gamify your work too? Habitica is one of the most popular productivity apps that motivates you with the RPG-like rewards and punishments. The app turns your tasks into monsters that you need to defeat. The more you get done, the more you progress in the game (you can customize your avatar, prizes and punishments too, by the way). And if you find it boring or disappointing to play alone, there’s a social network feature: compete with friends who are also working on their productivity, fight bosses that can hurt your teammates and tackle challenges with special prizes.

Special Productivity Tools for Software Development

There is another category of tools that can help developers get more productive at the workplace. Special tools that create a more comfortable work environment and speed up routine processes can be of help even for those who are not facing productivity issues.

1. Usersnap

Usersnap makes bug tracking easier and more efficient by providing screenshots and on-screen annotations as well as metadata like URL and screen size. With this information the developers, product managers or website team can understand issues faster and recreate testing environments easily. Your development can progress better when problems get resolved like a breeze. Usersnap’s feedback widget can be implemented via a short Javascript code, or use the browser extension to capture and report issues on any website. The tickets can be sent to all the most popular project management tools, such as Jira, Asana, Basecamp, etc.

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2. 7pace Timetracker

7pace Timetracker is a special timekeeping tool for software development, designed for teams who work using Azure DevOps. It works for both cloud and local installations of Azure DevOps and helps track time with less effort. For project managers, 7pace offers an easy and visual way to monitor project progress and measure work. With a desktop system and mobile apps, it’s easier to stay on track wherever you are. Its powerful API allows to integrate the timekeeping system into existing infrastructure. 7pace also has a productivity tool named Kitten that basically works as a Pomodoro timer and helps regain focus and build better productivity habits.

3. Oh My Zsh

Oh My Zsh is an open-source framework for managing a Zsh configuration that comes with lots of useful functions. It is designed for developers working with the command line. When creating the tool, the developer focused on keeping it simple for people who are new to the command-line environment, but those who need advanced functions can choose among various plugins, helpers, themes etc. As for now, there are more than 200 plugins for different technologies, and over 1000 contributors keep working on the project.

4. The Silver Searcher

The Silver Searcher is a code searching tool. Its author explains that a lot of time he spent on “writing” code was actually reading the code and searching through it. So he needed a tool that would search quickly and relevantly, and he built it. Now The Silver Searcher is ranked among the most efficient productivity tools for developers as it saves a lot of time and effort.

5. UltraEdit

UltraEdit is a text editor that is often used for editing code and markup in virtually any markup or programming language. It can handle large files (up to 4 GB) and allows to configure the work environment according to the user’s preferences. Besides syntax highlighting for unlimited number of languages and other visual features, it supports FTP, provides a SSH/telnet console and allows logical grouping and ordering of files and folders, which is convenient when working on n large projects.

6. Homebrew

Homebrew is “the missing package manager for MacOS”, as the authors call it. Its purpose is quick installation of freely usable open-source tools from binary packages. Its lead maintainer, Mike McQuaid, says that it is particularly useful for developers, as it offers the quickest and easiest way to find and install common developer tools or to create your own Homebrew packages.

7. Play Framework

Play Framework helps you build applications with Java and Scala. Easy and lightweight, it allows to speed up the development process. See your amends applied right away and test websites and apps easier – all you need is a just text editor and a web browser. The app is designed for both web and mobile apps and allows for using the massive ecosystem of Java: most of libraries can be utilizedwith Play Framework.

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