🏆 The Top 50 Developer Tools of 2018
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!
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!
» Follow Bootstrap | » See recent tech decisions about Bootstrap
» Follow Node.js | » Tell developers why you chose Node.js
» Follow AngularJS | » See recent tech decisions about AngularJS
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.
» Follow PHP | » See recent tech decisions about PHP
Data is king. And among data scientists (among many other engineers), Python is the language of choice.
» Follow Python | » See recent tech decisions about Python
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.
» Follow jQuery | » See recent tech decisions about jQuery
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.
» Follow React | » See recent tech decisions about React
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.
» Follow Google Analytics | » See recent tech decisions about Google Analytics
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.
» Follow Postman | » See recent tech decisions about Postman
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).
» Follow Elasticsearch | » See recent tech decisions about Elasticsearch
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.
» Follow SendGrid | » Tell developers why you chose SendGrid
Stripe's developer-first mindset brought it to the forefront as this year's payment-processor-of-choice.
» Follow Stripe | » See recent tech decisions about Stripe
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.
» Follow Amazon Route 53 | » See recent tech decisions about Amazon Route 53
Free web hosting, tied to a repo? No-brainer. Unsurprisingly, GH Pages have become the defacto standard for OSS landing pages.
» Follow GitHub Pages | » See recent tech decisions about GitHub Pages
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.
» Follow Mandrill | » See recent tech decisions about Mandrill
Chomping at Mandrill's heels, Mailgun continues to be a strong option in the transactional email market, backed by Rackspace's massive infrastructure.
» Follow Mailgun | » See recent tech decisions about Mailgun
Wherever there's payment processing needed, PayPal is never far away.
» Follow PayPal | » See recent tech decisions about PayPal
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.
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.
» Follow GitHub | » See recent tech decisions about GitHub
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).
» Follow Docker | » See recent tech decisions about Docker
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.
» Follow Atom | » See recent tech decisions about Atom
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.
» Follow Sublime Text | » See recent tech decisions about Sublime Text
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.
» Follow Bitbucket | » See recent tech decisions about Bitbucket
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.
» Follow Jenkins | » See recent tech decisions about Jenkins
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.
» Follow npm | » See recent tech decisions about npm
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.
» Follow gulp | » See recent tech decisions about gulp
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.
» Follow GitLab | » See recent tech decisions about GitLab
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.
» Follow Vim | » See recent tech decisions about Vim
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.
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.
» Follow Slack | » See recent tech decisions about Slack
Now dubbed G-Suite (classy move, Google), the Google Apps suite brought our cherished Gmail and Drive to the workplace. Starting at $5/user/mo, it's affordable for any team with plenty of admin options to manage all your @awesometeam.com emails.
» Follow G Suite | » See recent tech decisions about G Suite
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.
» Follow Trello | » See recent tech decisions about Trello
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.
» Follow WordPress | » See recent tech decisions about WordPress
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.
» Follow Skype | » See recent tech decisions about Skype
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.
» Follow InVision | » See recent tech decisions about InVision
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.
» Follow Confluence | » See recent tech decisions about Confluence
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.
» Follow Intercom | » See recent tech decisions about Intercom
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.
Need realtime chat in your next project? Don't reinvent the wheel—you can give SendBird's free Chat API a try.
» Follow SendBird | » See recent tech decisions about SendBird
Watch out npm and Bower—Yarn is coming for ya. By caching every package it downloads, Yarn is wicked fast and overly secure.
» Follow Yarn | » See recent tech decisions about Yarn
Anyone else tired of expensive team password management tools? Passbolt's open-source solution is simple and right in our price range (read: free)!
» Follow Passbolt | » Tell developers why you chose Passbolt
Weighing in at a whopping 2kb, Milligram is one of the lightest (minimalist) CSS frameworks in town.
» Follow Milligram | » Tell developers why you chose Milligram
AI for your IDE? Yes please! Kite's pretty slick with intelligent autocomplete and internet-connected documentation right at your fingertips.
» Follow Kite | » Tell developers why you chose Kite
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.
» Follow Portainer | » See recent tech decisions about Portainer
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.
» Follow Diff So Fancy | » Tell developers why you chose Diff So Fancy
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.
» Follow DC/OS | » Tell developers why you chose DC/OS
Coming from the big-bad Docker team themselves, Docker Cloud offers up a sleek competitor to other cloud container services.
» Follow Docker Cloud | » Tell developers why you chose Docker Cloud
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.
» Follow Parse-Server | » Tell developers why you chose Parse-Server
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).
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!
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!
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.
Smashing originally challenged their community to launch this newsletter: it would only be lanched if they hit 10,001 subscribers. Since 2010, they've now grown to 230,000. Geared at developers and designers, their twice-monthly newsletter is packed with useful tips and resources. Get smashing
Who doesn't love HackerNews? Their weekly newsletter brings the best articles on startups, technology, programming, and more to your inbox. Unleash the hacker
We love this one. If you're the kind of person who learns by seeing, check out Umar Hansa's newsletter. You'll receive a gif each week with a cool developer tip to try out. Useful and funny
Whether you're leading a dev team or considering a move into leadership, this newsletter covers soft topics for those who care about people, culture, and leadership. Learn more
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 firstname.lastname@example.org!