Are you using too many or too little development tools?

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TL; DR: Bombarded with integrations and software options, software developers can rightfully be wondering just how many development tools make a balanced stack for their daily chores. This blog defines 4 key considerations to define which software development tools are ideal for a great developer tool stack.

Saying the offer for software development tools is wide would be an understatement. Yet, this should also be no surprise at all given the global developer population is expected to reach 28.7 million people by 2024” on a market that “was valued at USD 24.46 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.3% from 2022 to 2030.” To all this, do developers truly need the long list of tools available in today’s market? How many of them are necessary and how many are simply too much?

Over this month’s newsletter on LinkedIn, we took a stab at this question of need over development tools as well as their effective use and role in today’s IT sphere. We also addressed the most common pain points that developers face when working with too many tools or platforms rather than centralizing certain processes. This article is our blog version of that newsletter for you now. If you like what you see, subscribe to our monthly newsletter on LinkedIn for more.

The global developer tool list is endless.

First, we should consider how, in our current software development scenario, listing current productivity tools for developers would simply prove to be an endless task. All sorts of new tools have been tailored to optimize very diverse processes. These stacks seek to suit tech professional’s almost every need to also come up with improved software much quicker. However, the potential downside to such a large set of productivity tools, amongst others, is inefficiency in company workflows, unreliability, and, quite honestly, possibly even burnout.

Stop potential burnout from happening.

Avoid pushing yourself too hard amongst dozens of tools to get what you need. Instead, actively take measures to avoid complete exhaustion over work items. Thinking of a few pointers for developers here, we´d recommend an experience whereby you can:

1.       Ensure your tool stack is helping you get more done.

2.       Cut back on time expenditure in project management tools, for instance.

3.       Rely on meaningful integrations and related solutions.

Tool overloads can fire back undesirably by making users spend more time seeking information or processes than using the right set of data. Part of the downsides to too many tools ironically has to do with a loss of information as much as the creation of added silos.

So, how many tools are too many?

From 2018 to 2021, reports state that the programming/development tools software developers used the most worldwide were source code collaboration tools such as GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket.

Yet, organizations and individual developers can now take different measures to cut back on excesses over their tool stack, regardless of the precise tools that need to go. Part of those initiatives should include checking the total number of tools to which we’ve signed up over the years to updating the set of granted permissions in our system and grouping multiple accounts into more controlled account records.

Are there additional feature requests anyone would like to add? A periodic check over our talent’s tool compound and their respective performance can be quite promising.

On the other hand, very complex toolchains can also be necessary. They can ultimately spare countless working hours as they ease how we run our products.

Drawing a line in terms of quality.

When it comes to the final number of tools to which we should resort, there needs to be a middle point and a balance.

Not every tool in our development process needs to be top of the line. Sometimes an average or well-suited performance can be more than enough for great final products.

Certain libraries and frameworks can be life-changing for some developers, for instance. Most also naturally like being able to resort to their own creations, which tends to be the case when it comes to specific test harnesses, for example.

Being able to identify the tools that truly help us leap in our projects can be invaluable. An eye on the latest tech trends and standards can also assist developers in determining what the latest advancements are in relation to more established ways of going through development needs.

The idea is to find a healthy balance between all our chosen tools that allows for expedited processes, information retention, and our ability to complete high-quality deliveries — whether that be as an individual and/or as a team. 

Finding a change of tool stack a hard job to complete.

A reluctance to change can lead many developers to a more conservative approach when it comes to updating their development chain. We need to factor this reality into our current equation. The reasons for this can easily exceed personal preferences, as well.

The truth is that changes in our lines of command can break achieved progress or processes. If our products contain predated elements, for example, rewriting code might be more time-consuming and potentially even costlier than resorting to “inherited tools.”

Furthermore, whenever we’re starting fresh with a whole new product, we tend to spare having to learn about new tools and environments to focus on tools we know will work for our new particular task. Normally, we vouch for those tools that are familiar and easy-to-use for our unique purposes so we can focus on other efforts around our new solutions.

Tool updates don’t simply just happen.

Quite on the contrary, committing to a filtered and polished set of a tool stack needs to be a highly intentional effort that’s backed by our technical teams and upper management. A lot of intentional work needs to happen before we can leverage just the right number of tools to make up our daily kit.

What constitutes the perfect balance of a tool stack for you? Let us know in the comments.