Stackshare top 50 dev tools 2016

Want to know exactly which tools should be on your radar in 2017? Our 3rd annual StackShare Awards do just that! We’ve analyzed thousands of data points to bring you rankings for the hottest tools, including:

It took a bit of time to comb through the data, but there are some killer insights in here. To piece this list together, we aggregated usage from 40K+ tech stacks, over a million unique visits, and thousands of developer comments, reviews, and votes across all of 2016 (more on methodology below). Through it, we found some of the top tech trends coming into 2017 and what should be on your bucket list. Let’s get started!

Application & Data Tool of the Year


#1: JavaScript

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The age of JavaScript has come. It's been a few years in the making, but 2016 has solidifed the once what-jQuery-runs-on language into the most popular language today. There's been a huge shift towards front-end frameworks (like React and Angular) combined with Node's scalability on the back-end. Of course, the price of JavaScript comes with the hundreds of dev tools needed to launch a simple "Hello World" app.

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#2: Bootstrap

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Coming in at close second is our most-beloved responsive framework. As we speak, the Bootstrap community is hard-at-work on Bootstrap 4, which will boast improved rem support, a move to SASS (see ya, LESS), and even an optional flexbox layout. We're currently in alpha, but keep your eyes peeled in early 2017 for the release! More

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#3: Node.js

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The push for isomorphic JavaScript applications and a large shift to API architectures brought Node.js to the forefront in 2016. Look to an even stronger showing in 2017 as a language-of-choice for multi-threaded, scalable applications. More

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#4: nginx

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Speedy nginx outshined other web serving solutions (sorry Apache) to take the coveted crown. Ngninx has come a long way since release in 2002, especially in the last few years. More

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#5: AngularJS

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For all you front-end ninjas out there, you may be surprised to see AngularJS as the top JavaScript framework—we know we were. Despite strong competition from the React camp, the release of Angular 2 along with cost of switching frameworks kept Angular on top for a second year running. More

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#6: PHP

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What year is it? We were so amazed to see PHP beating out alternatives like Python and Rails, that we re-ran our analysis twice. The numbers don't lie—despite dwindling numbers and competition from every angle, PHP's base of developers, frameworks, and applications kept it on top and far from the language graveyard. More

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#7: Python

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Data is king. And among data scientists (among many other engineers), Python is the language of choice. More

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#8: jQuery

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jQuery gave us our first "Aha!" moment in front-end development. When we saw our first slider animate, we nearly cried. jQuery continues to be the go-to solution for quick prototypes and small applications. The simplicity and breadth of plugins make it a tough tool to beat. More

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#9: HTML5

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Two words: form validation. More

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#10: React

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You can hardly turn a corner without running into the latest React fanclub, and for good reason. Facebook's brainchild is fast, sleek, and gaining traction day by day. React has emerged from it's cocoon and is accelerating into 2017 with over 750 new stacks in the last 6 months alone. Required reading: learn how Flexport uses React to move shipping containers. More

The Verdict: 2016 was the year of the front-end, and on the front-end, JavaScript reigns supreme. 6 of the top 10 application & data tools live on the front-end, with 5 of those being JavaScript-based. Data tools didn't quite make the cut, with MySQL sitting at #11 followed by MongoDB and Redis. If you're looking at new tools to consider for 2017, you'd be in good company brushing up on your JavaScript skills by picking up either Angular 2 or React.

Utility Tool of the Year


#1: Google Analytics

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That's right—the internet's most cherished (and free) analytics platform takes the cake as this year's Utility Tool of the Year. Ever since it launched in 2005, GA has become the most used tool by a significant margin. You just can't beat free when it comes to analytics (though there are tons of great alternatives lower down on the list). As is, GA is one of the first tools to install on any project.

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#2: Postman

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Have you ever had a massive library of curl commands just to test your API? Trying to piece together multi-line requests with authentication, data, and unique content types? Postman is for you—it makes API development easy (even on a team). With the shift to SPAs and API architectures, Postman has become an API developer's best friend and a strong contender for 2017. More

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#3: Elasticsearch

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When you need to perform a text search ridiculously fast, Elasticsearch is the tool developers reach for. But that's not all that brought Elasticsearch to the top of this list—Elasticsearch's highly customizable interface has made it one of the most popular solutions for log aggregation and analysis (especially when combined with tools like Logstash and Kibana). More

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#4: SendGrid

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Transactional email? Check. Since MailChimp acquired Mandrill (and increased prices), SendGrid's become the affordable email option with high deliverability and a simple API. Beyond that, their new Marketing Campaigns allow non-developers to take advantage of the platform without needing a developer. More

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#5: Stripe

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Stripe's developer-first mindset brought it to the forefront as this year's payment-processor-of-choice. More

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#6: Amazon Route 53

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While we all love those old GoDaddy commercials, AWS's growth over the last few years has taken a large bite out of the cloud-based market (31% to be exact). And for those who need to buy domains (like that time you thought avocado-cart.com would go big), Route 53 is the favorite choice. With privacy built into the $12/yr .com pricetag, Route 53 is hard to beat. More

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#7: GitHub Pages

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Free web hosting, tied to a repo? No-brainer. Unsurprisingly, GH Pages have become the defacto standard for OSS landing pages. More

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#8: Mandrill

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If you use MailChimp, you probably use Mandrill for your transactional email (or maybe you were lucky enough to get their free plan). Unfortunately, earlier this year MailChimp announced that Mandrill would become a MailChimp add-on, and the standalone service would no longer exist. In order to keep using Mandrill, users need a MailChimp account. While the strong backlash from the Mandrill community hit developers hard, it still sits on our Top 10 for popularity. More

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#9: Mailgun

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Chomping at Mandrill's heels, Mailgun continues to be a strong option in the transactional email market, backed by Rackspace's massive infrastructure. More

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#10: PayPal

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Wherever there's payment processing needed, PayPal is never far away. More

The Verdict: With 3 of the top 10 Utility tools represented by transactional email services (and AWS SES falling in the Top 20), we're looking at email to continue as a significant medium for developers in 2017. As for other channels, Twilio fell just outside of the Top 10 (#12) for their messaging APIs. And with all these APIs flying around, it's no wonder why Postman's clean UI secured a #2 spot on the list.

DevOps Tool of the Year


#1: GitHub

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Do you remember when you first saw GitHub's logo and asked "what the hell is that?" Nowadays, Octocat has taken the development world by storm. With a heavy focus on collaboration and UX, GitHub has turned version control into an almost-fun activity. After receiving that hearfelt letter from the OSS community, GH kicked product development into overdrive and released a slew of new products to round out the year with an even more impressive offering that now includes Projects (Kanban-style boards), more robust code reviews, profile page updates, and a new GraphQL API.

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#2: Docker

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2016 brought containerization into the light, and Docker stepped even further into the spotlight as the go-to tool. As microservices become popular in app architecture, containers are delivering consistent environments from development to production. Docker launched plenty of new tools and services in 2016 to further support their core container technology (one of which even made the Top New Tools list). More

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#3: Atom

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With a slew of packages and themes to rival Sublime Text, Atom is no longer a text editor "just for the cool kids." From the minds who brought us GitHub, Atom delivers a familiar text-editor experience with some nice built-in git management and search features. More

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#4: Sublime Text

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Falling just shy of Atom, the reigning text editor king still has a deep community of developers who swear by the editor to make their work easier. More

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#5: Bitbucket

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The Atlassian suite has some amazing products that work well together. Between Bitbucket, Jira, and Confluence any development team can streamline their process under one roof. More

Jenkins

#6: Jenkins

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Many development teams are bringing Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment into their development pipeline. As one of the top tools with a great open-source community, Jenkins' flexibility and huge list of plugins make it the defacto choice for CI/CD. Their newest plugin Blue Ocean is already gaining steam on StackShare. More

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#7: npm

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With the overwhelming trend towards front-end development, we need some way to manage our dependencies (and trust us, there are a lot of them). With over 350K registered packages, npm is one of the first tools installed with any front-end application, typically used to manage developer tools like Gulp, Grunt, Yeoman, etc. More

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#8: gulp

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For the first time, Gulp beat out Grunt as the top task runner. The focus on speed (it's built on Node's streams) won over the old Grunt crowd who were tired of slow watch tasks. More

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#9: GitLab

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Amazing to see GitLab make the list, especially since it only launched in 2014 (6 years after GitHub and BitBucket). The interface may feel familiar to GitHub, but the pricing is why developers flock—GitLab has unlimited free public and private repositories, plus it's open source with a public roadmap. Enterprise companies can get LDAP and Active Directory support out of the box. More

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#10: Vim

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Vim can be challenging to master, but once learned, developers swear by it as a productive godsend. And watching Vim in action, it can feel like magic sometimes. More

The Verdict: The rise of git and team collaboration (along with distributed teams) brought version control platforms like GitHub, BitBucket, and GitLab to dominate the rankings. Look for containerization to continue to grow in 2017, with tools like Docker, Vagrant, and Ansible making the Top 20. And developers never forget to show some love for their trusted text editors, where we expect Atom to continue as a winning option in 2017.

Business Tool of the Year


#1: Slack

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Slack's knock brush sound is unmistakable. Blowing all other team communication solutions out of the water, Slack has achieved nirvana the likes of which haven't been seen since AOL Instant Messenger. With 5.8 million daily active users and a cool $3.8 billion valuation, Slack's revamped clients (including the lightning-quick Slack 2) and the brilliant move to open up the bot ecosystem has made Slack any team's best friend.

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#3: Trello

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Do you even Kanban? Because if so, Trello better be in your stack. We're amazed that every year Trello remains unthroned as the task management tool of choice, but there's something about the complete simplicity of it that draws teams to stay. More

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#4: WordPress

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Here's an amazing stat: WordPress now powers 27% of the web. Yes, the entire web. And that's double what it was 6 years ago. While WordPress growth slowed in 2016, it still continues to trend up and we expect it to remain the "build a content site" tool for 2017. More

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#5: JIRA

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Ever since the old GreenHopper days, JIRA has been a strong force in the Agile development arena. As more and more teams use Agile methodologies in their day-to-day task management, JIRA has set itself up as one of the top choices. More

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#6: MailChimp

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Need to send a newsletter? MailChimp is what most teams use thanks to its simple interface and pain-free list management system. More

Skype

#7: Skype

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Skype is an amazing tool. With 59 percent of teams planning to have more than half their employees remote by 2020, the need to interact remotely is only going up in 2017. More

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#8: InVision

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Prototypes used to suck. But InVision found a place among development teams to quickly whip together clickable prototypes, take them to market, and refine well before we waste time building something no one wants. More

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#9: Confluence

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Atlassian's brother to JIRA, Confluence goes hand-in-hand with the task management platform to attach conversations to stories. Naturally, as JIRA grows, so will Confluence. More

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#10: Intercom

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2016 saw the mass adoption of chat bubbles for Sales and Marketing teams—those little chat windows that pop up every time you hit the pricing page of every product ever created. Intercom's taken advantage of the trend by making live chat and customer engagement ridiculously easy. More

The Verdict: As we move into 2017, communication tools are paramount among teams. 13 of the Top 20 tools are related to communication, either for internal planning, customer engagement, or whatever else might fancy your boat. Task management tools will continue to vie for market share in 2017 as Trello (#3), JIRA (#5), Asana (#11), and Pivotal Tracker (#21) all make a showing in the top rankings.

New Tool of the Year


#1: SendBird

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Need realtime chat in your next project? Don't reinvent the wheel—you can give SendBird's free Chat API a try.

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#2: Yarn

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Watch out npm and Bower—Yarn is coming for ya. By caching every package it downloads, Yarn is wicked fast and overly secure. More

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#3: Passbolt

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Anyone else tired of expensive team password management tools? Passbolt's open-source solution is simple and right in our price range (read: free)! More

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#4: Milligram

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Weighing in at a whopping 2kb, Milligram is one of the lightest (minimalist) CSS frameworks in town. More

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#5: Kite

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AI for your IDE? Yes please! Kite's pretty slick with intelligent autocomplete and internet-connected documentation right at your fingertips. More

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#6: Portainer

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With Docker becoming ubiquitous, we need a clean way to manage our instances. Portainer helps out with an open-source, lightweight management UI for your Docker host. More

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#7: Diff So Fancy

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Sometimes it's the simple things that make us smile. Diff So Fancy has one purpose: to clean up our hard-to-read git diffs. More

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#8: DC/OS

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Container deploys, ho! DC/OS (open-source) makes it easy to deploy and run stateful or stateless distributed workloads including Docker containers and Big Data. More

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#9: Docker Cloud

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Coming from the big-bad Docker team themselves, Docker Cloud offers up a sleek competitor to other cloud container services. More

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#10: Parse-Server

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After the heartbreaking shutdown of Parse, developers scrambled to find a back-up. Released from the Parse team after their announcement, Parse Server has been a savior as an open-source, Parse-compatible API server for those looking to transfer off of parse.com. More

The Verdict: New tools are easy to build, but hard to grow. These tools have run the gauntlet and are gaining traction fast. As if a harbinger of what's to come, this year's list reinforces the verdict for containerization and microservice trends in 2017. And while open-source tools have always been well-loved by developers, our rankings show 7 of the top 10 tools backed by open-source teams. If you aren't contributing to open-source, you should consider helping out the community (and your portfolio).

Top 10 Stacks


Over 18,000 new stacks joined the StackShare ranks in 2016, ranging from unicorns to small agencies across 149 countries. We originally wanted to give this award to our entire community, but that would turn into a long list. So instead, we picked out the Top 10 stacks (based on favorites & views), most of which you'll surely recognize. If you've ever wondered what tech medium.com runs on, wonder no more!

Top 10 Developers


And where would we be without our lifeblood—our amazing community of developers? Probably crying in a corner somewhere. It doesn't matter where. There wouldn't be anyone to judge us. Fortunately, a few of our users have been extra-awesome this year by contributing votes, one-liners, and reviews (ranked by weighted score). We wanted to give these developers a special shout out for helping strengthen the entire community!

Newsletters You Should Be Reading


If you were paying attention above, you'd remember that email is one of the key channels coming into 2017. Not only that, but a few brave teams have gone through the effort of curating some of the finest newsletters in the world. While we couldn't find a succinct way to rank all the newsletters statistically, these are a few of our favorites from the community that produce amazing content week-in and week-out. If you aren't receiving any of these, you should consider checking them out in 2017.

Coming into 2017, macro trends like microservices, JavaScript growth, API development, and containerization have fueled a whole network of tools to consider for your next project. As always, we urge you to consider not just the tool, but the problem that the tool is solving. And 2017 will have plenty of problems to solve, so keep your eyes open for new tools to make your life easier and your projects succeed!

Methodology: For tool rankings, we built the popularity score from a weighted average of verified stacks, votes, favorites, and pageviews. To account for high variability between different award categories, each score was calculated relative to the median value for each data point within that category (e.g. if the median number of verified stacks for Utility Tools was 1,000 and Tool X had 2,000, that would yield a score of 200%). Beyond that, New Tool rankings were chosen from tools that were created in the StackShare platform in 2016.

Interestingly, we removed Git from the #2 spot (behind GitHub) in the DevOps rankings since the placement didn't make sense—unless people started using SVN with GitHub all of a sudden. We chalk the placement up to selection bias as some developers mention GitHub, but not Git.

If you have any questions about the rankings, drop us a line at team@stackshare.io!