What are the Most Commonly Used Software Development Tools?

Looking for a new tool for your software development team? See what your peers and competitors are using.

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Are you making the best use of tools to optimize your software development team’s efficiency and productivity? If you’ve asked and answered that question, there may be another question in the back of your mind: Are we using the right software development tools?

Coding Sans’ Annual State of Software Development Report provides insights into the challenges software developers face, which this year are capacity and knowledge-sharing. The report also looks at agile methodologies software teams use, hiring practices, and remote work. The research for the report also investigated which programming languages and software development tools software developers use.

The Most Common Primary Programming Languages

Coding Sans research showed that JavaScript is the most common primary coding language, used by 59.08 percent of respondents. JavaScript is followed by:

  • Java, 29.04 percent
  • TypeScript, 26.32 percent
  • Python, 23.89 percent
  • C#, 23.75 percent
  • PHP, 18.88 percent
  • C++, 8.87 percent
  • Ruby, 6.44 percent
  • Kotlin, 4.86 percent
  • Go, 4.43 percent
  • C, 3.43 percent
  • Swift, 3.29 percent
  • Scala, 2.29 percent
  • Elixir, 1.29 percent
  • Perl, 0.86 percent
  • Dart, 0.72 percent
  • Erlang, 0.57 percent
  • Objective C, 0.57 percent
  • Other, 4.43 percent

Although rankings among primary programming languages have been fairly consistent over the past three years, there are some trends indicating changes. TypeScript has increased among developers as the primary programming language from 11.22 percent in 2018 to 26.32 percent this year. Among programming languages that have lost some ground as the most popular primary programming languages are Ruby, which has decreased from 9.57 percent in 2018 to 6.4 percent in 2020, and Swift, which has decreased from 8.91 percent in 2018 to 3.29 percent in 2020.

Coding Sans research found that about 35 percent of developers aren’t considering new languages for use in the next 12 months; however, 21.60 percent are looking at Python, with the next most commonly considered languages:

  • TypeScript, 19.31 percent
  • Go, 14.59 percent
  • JavaScript, 12.88 percent
  • Kotlin, 9.59 percent

Other languages are considered by less than 6 percent of respondents.

Tools for Software Testing

Among the 75.25 percent of respondents to the Coding Sans survey that use tools for software testing, more than one-third, 34.22 percent use Jest, followed by:

  • Selenium, 29.66 percent
  • Junit, 19.01 percent
  • Mocha, 12.36 percent
  • Pytest, 11.03 percent
  • CircleCI, 9.89 percent
  • Browserstack, 9.51 percent

Coding Sans asked software companies that don’t use testing tools what’s holding them back. Finding time to research testing tool options was the reason for about one-quarter. Other reasons are lack of time to use it, the perception that they don’t need it, uncertainty on how to use it, and budgetary concerns.

Tools for Project Management and Communication

Commonly used project management tools include:

  • Jira, 49.79 percent
  • Trello, 19.89 percent
  • GitHub Issues, 10.10 percent
  • GitHub Projects 6.58 percent
  • Azure Boards, 5.29 percent

Commonly used for tools for communication are:

  • Slack, 58.66 percent
  • Email, 45.06 percent
  • Jira, 26.32 percent
  • MS Teams, 16.74 percent
  • Google Hangouts, 15.45 percent
  • Skype, 14.88 percent
  • Zoom, 13.16 percent
  • Go to Meeting, 12.02 percent
  • Trello, 9.01 percent

Other tools are used by fewer than 5 percent of respondents.

Interestingly, although Jira seems to be the popular choice for project management, it is not the most common communication tool. It demonstrates that about half of the people who use Jira choose another tool for communication, possibly juggling between platforms to do it.

Integrated Development Environments (IDEs)

Many software developers use IDEs, which combine source code editors, debuggers, and automation capabilities, to enable more efficient way to work and time savings. The most common IDEs used by software developers are:

  • VS Code, 54.82 percent
  • Visual Studio, 24.95 percent
  • IntelliJ IDEA, 17.68 percent
  • Sublime Text, 11.39 percent
  • Eclipse, 9.82 percent

Other IDEs are used by less than 9 percent each.

Version Control System 

Version control systems, which manage and track changes to code modifications over time, are also widely used. One of the biggest advantages of version control systems is the ability to revert to an earlier version if needed.

The most common version control systems used by the respondents to the Coding Sans survey are:

  • GitHub, 43.22 percent
  • Bitbucket, 20.24 percent
  • com, 16.70 percent
  • GitLab Self-Hosted, 11.39 percent
  • Bitbucket Server, 10.81
  • GitHub Enterprise, 8.84 percent
  • Azure DevOps, 8.84 percent

Other version control systems are each used by less than 8 percent of software developers.

The most commonly used clients used to communicate with Git repositories and manage files are:

  • Command line interface, 36.19 percent
  • GitKraken, 27.18 percent
  • SourceTree, 15.74 percent
  • GitHub, 11.87 percent

There are numerous other source control clients that software developers report using, and 10.44 percent report not using any at all.

Learn More

Although every software development company’s operation is unique, and you shouldn’t put all of your faith in “popular” tools, the data Coding Sans collected can direct a search for new software development tools — or for first tools — to consider for your team.

Download Coding Sans State of Software Development in 2020 Report for more insights from this survey of companies in the software industry.

Jay McCall

Jay McCall is an editor and journalist with 20 years of writing experience for B2B IT solution providers. Jay is a cofounder of Managed Services Journal and DevPro Journal.


Zebra MC9400
Jay McCall

Jay McCall is an editor and journalist with 20 years of writing experience for B2B IT solution providers. Jay is a cofounder of Managed Services Journal and DevPro Journal.