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Productivity tools for developers: what to try in 2021

Last updated on 
April 12, 2021

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A developer’s workflow is full of potential tangents, interruptions and context switches. But the nature of programming makes accessing and maintaining uninterrupted flow states critical. Thankfully, a ton digital tools can help developers do exactly that, working to protect their space for deep thinking and create more productive workflows. Here’s our pick of the best productivity tools for developers as of 2021.

Dewo – for accessing, maximizing and staying in your flow

Distractions and context switching are developers’ two biggest adversaries – making it impossible to focus deeply on complex problem solving. As your “personal assistant for deep work”, Dewo is all about helping you protect that focus and get more quality out of each working day. By using AI to analyze your productive patterns, Dewo can help you understand your performance and provide behavioral insights to help you improve the way you work.

Beyond intelligent analysis, it also actively protects your focus. It will automatically silence all app notifications and update your Slack status whenever you enter a flow state, creating a protective force field around your work. It also offers intelligent meeting scheduling, considering your preferences and productive patterns to schedule meetings which protect the time you have available for focused working.

Tuple – for advanced remote pair programming

If you’re sick of trying to collaborate with remote developers via Zoom or Slack, take a look at Tuple. It’s a tool specifically designed for pair programming, and as such offers a considered screen sharing UI and the ability to control remote machines on a low-latency connection. As the brainchild of three detail-oriented developers, you can enjoy 5K-quality video stream, crisp audio, considerate UI and efficient CPU usage – with the average Tuple call using less CPU than Chrome does while sitting idle.

Timely – for automatically tracking all your work

By automatically capturing everything you work on, Timely helps you manage your time with minimal effort. It records the time you spend in every web and desktop application to a private timeline, giving you a complete account of your work. You can see how long you spend actively coding, as well as time spent managing ClubHouse tickets and Git commits, communicating around projects and structuring work. It's particularly helpful for seeing how you distribute time across different clients and projects.

Designed to never interrupt your flow, Timely completely removes manual timers and note taking. Its AI even drafts accurate timesheets for you, outsourcing another low-value business task. Project and team dashboards give you quick performance breakdowns, so you don’t have to dig for anything. See how long you spend on different tasks, how much you’ve earned, where you get distracted and how you’re performing against your weekly capacity.

Codestream – for easily sharing code-level knowledge

Alongside undisturbed focus, effortless knowledge sharing is fundamental to developer productivity. Beyond your own bubble, streamlining team workflows and activity is essential to actually produce valuable work. Thankfully, for all your discussions around code, there’s Codestream, which takes the effort and frustration out of code reviews.

Supporting every programming language, Codestream lets you discuss code with your team without ever using a pull request. Just highlight a code block and type a comment for intuitive, easy issue resolution. By letting developers discuss code directly in its environment, Codestream helps regular group problem solving take place – ultimately strengthening the quality of your code base in the process.

f.lux – for giving your eyes a break

Programming can be unforgiving to your eyes, so to sustain long productive stretches of work you need to code responsibly. As a tool designed to reduce eye strain during night use, f.lux helps to solve one element of this. Working across Windows, Linux, Mac and iOS devices, it intelligently adapts your screen's display colour to compliment different times of day.

You just need to tell it about what kind of lighting you have and where you live, and it will handle the rest automatically. When it detects sunset, f.lux will make your display mimick your indoor lighting; when it detects sunrise, it will adjust your set-up to sunlight settings. Everything can be adjusted to fit your work routine, to pick colours which help keep you alert. – automate your QA testing

If you’re looking to save money and effort on testing your code, check out By providing full end-to-end testing via a single API call, it promises a more efficient and lightweight solution to in-house automated testing or manual QA. You just need to write and send your test via the CLI. will then translate your instructions and build an automated test model, which returns results in a matter of minutes.

The outputs tend to be extremely reliable; the automated model runs until your app changes, and the team at Walrus monitor every run to pinpoint false positives and false negatives. They then rebuild the model and send you the correct result. The whole thing can plug directly into your CI/CD pipelines, and there are pricing plans to suit different testing needs.

Pi-hole – for network-wide ad blocking

Aside from being intrusive and creepy, webpage ads can clutter your screen, reduce network performance and bring unnecessary distraction into your working life. For those seeking a comprehensive solution to the issue, there’s Pi-hole. By connecting to your router instead of just offering simple web plug-in, it offers network-wide ad blocking. By pairing it with a VPN, you can shield every device from distracting ads. As a next-level ad blocker, it also offers long-term stats so you can see what’s happening on your network over time.

The silver searcher - for sifting through code

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As converts of the tool will already know, Ag – of the Silver Searcher – can save developers using Windows and Linux a ton of time reading and sifting through code. It has quickly outstripped the source code search tool Ack in terms of speed, being five- to ten-times faster. In addition, the Silver Searcher is able to ignore file patterns from your .gitignore and .hgignore, so you have more relevant results. Free and open source, there’s a lot to love.

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