5 Tools for New Developers

There are a lot of lists coming out for the new year geared at streamlining the development process. However, things like Jenkins and Selenium is beyond what’s necessary if your New Year’s Resolution is to learn a new language or are looking into landing your first Tech job.

There are tools that _all developers_ user in some fashion, whether they like it or not. Showing proficiency and understanding in the following tools will set you apart as a low-friction candidate who is organized and prepared.

Calendar

There’s more to a calendar than blocking out appointments, though that is a big part. There’s adding users for RSVP and adding associated video chats and shared documents. Remember that you’re one in a pool of candidates, and too many hiccups related to bad scheduling can cause too much friction with your interviewers. Also, bad scheduling will imply that you’re disorganized or undependable.

Free Tools:

  • Google Calendar – If you have an Android and are interviewing with Start-Ups, having a Google Calendar is extremely useful as it integrates seamlessly with Google Apps for Business. It also has an ‘Appointments’ feature, allowing someone to see your open slots and propose events themselves.
  • Outlook – If you’re applying for Enterprise companies, they are most likely on Outlook. Outlook, like all other Microsoft Products, are overfull of features leaving a rather steep learning curve.
  • Apple Calendar – This comes built-in with Apple iCloud if you have an iPhone, iPad, or MacOS system. However, I’m not familiar with any company (outside of Apple itself) using the Apple Apps for work. So while its free and you can sync it to the previous accounts, it’s not really worth going out of your way to learn.

Text Chat

Companies love text-based collaboration these days. Remember chat rooms back in the 1990s? It’s like that, but for work! What it does let you do, if done properly, is communicate with large organizations and fine-tune conversations to be topic-focused. I personally love it, but that’s because I don’t like talking out loud to other people. Also, it lets you get back to those fun little side conversations that you miss being shoulder to shoulder with your teammates which is honestly how I end up elevating my co-workers to colleagues.

Free Tools:

  • Slack – This is the only free one out there that is effectively used in the industry. Microsoft has Teams, which is useful but also usually packaged with Outlook Enterprise licenses. Learn to use giphy, reactmojis, and most of all when NOT to use them. An ‘everyone does it once’ sort of mistake is to post inappropriate or too large or too many gifs. Only a seasoned professional knows how to backtrack that immediately with almost no trace!
  • Discord – This is free, has an extremely similar interface to Slack, but is not for Business. It’s used primarily for Fandom and Gaming. If you don’t have a professional network, but you want to get into the habit of text chatting with large groups of people, this might be a good first step.

Video Chat

Interview chains will likely have some sort of video chat either prior to an on-site or in lieu of one. It’s important to know how to get around your client of choice including how to share your screen, frame your shot, present yourself in front of an audience, and most importantly how and when to use the mute button. Screen sharing is commonly used during planning meetings and design demonstrations as well as a tool to ask for help and code review. It’s also good to not be surprised by your own body language on camera.

Free Tools:

  • Slack – This also does Free Video!
  • Google Hangouts – This is a standard for interview panels and team meetings. There is also a library of plugins that you can use to include slides and other extras.
  • Skype – This was the original video chat tool and is still used for interviews. Microsoft Enterprise users, however, have started to move to Teams, but this will get you started in that ecosystem. It also comes pre-installed on many smartphones.

Task Management

Agile and Scrum are project management jargon that companies really want you to be familiar with ahead of time. Of course, they’ll likely use them interchangeably and not very well, leading to any online resource about them to be misleading. The simplest part of it is creating tasks, prioritizing them, grouping them, and tracking them. There are free boards where you can track personal projects or even your job search!

Free Tools:

  • Trello – The best free tool out there if only because they’re owned by Atlassian right now. Atlassian is the industry standard for Ticket Management and Software Development Management. Getting familiar with their tools, such as Trello, will give you an idea of how to move your tickets from ‘To Do’ to ‘Done’. (I have twice suggested this as a Wedding Planning organizer.)
  • AirTable – An upcoming tool that has a lot of similar features with an easy to use interface. It’s not widely adopted in the industry and mostly by small companies looking to not use Jira/Atlassian.

Version Control

Many companies would like to see your Github. Of course, it doesn’t have to be deep, rarely have I actually seen one that was. What’s important in a good repository is knowing they exist, how to use them, and how to write good comments. Also, code. Naturally. Otherwise, you can use Git to learn Markdown and maintain a document repository.

Free Tools:

  • Git – Git is the current standard for Version Control, previously being Subversion and Mercurial before that. You can get free Public and Private repositories from GitHub and Atlassian’s BitBucket. GitHub is a better choice as there are more hooks for things like GitBook.
  • Branch Visualizer – Branch management is also very important. Knowing how your feature branches split off and merge back in is great for demonstrating encapsulated changes. Atlassian’s SourceTree and AxoSoft’s GitKraken are great tools for visualizations.

 

Learn these tools to see how Developers work. Figure out what works best for you and incorporate them into your learning. Good Luck to you this year!

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