SaaS business

Unlocking the Potential: An Overview of the Developer Tools Market


min to read

20 Sep



Table of contents

Today, software products have become the heartbeat of countless industries. As we witness a growing reliance on technology, the demand for cutting-edge developer tools has skyrocketed as well, resulting in a market loaded with diverse solutions. From ingenious code editors to cloud-based SaaS tools, this realm is all about innovation and competition. 

At Eleken, we work closely with developers and startupers to ensure their vision is translated into a sleek product with a stellar UI/UX design. So when you're thinking of creating a startup catering to the needs of developers, you've come to the right place! In this article, we'll take you on a tour of the developer tools market, exploring its multifaceted nature and discussing how you could contribute. 

One thing is certain, the developer tools market is growing rapidly 

So, what is a developer tool? In a nutshell, it is a set of software applications, platforms, and programs designed to help software developers write code, as well as test, debug, and manage it. Their ultimate goal is to streamline the software development process.

Software development tools market size is increasing fast. The projected annual growth rate (CAGR), according to different estimations, is between 7% to 14% or even 17%, with expected market volume of US$234.70bn by 2028. One of the key drivers is the COVID-19 pandemic and shift to remote work, which made many investors rain money on promising startups. 

The developer tools market is still piping hot, with customers eagerly seeking novel solutions to streamline their development processes, reduce time-to-market, and enhance the overall software quality. So if you're looking to join the competition with your idea, developer tools might be the thing to look into. But what exactly is in demand right now?

Popular categories of developer tools

The list of tools the market offers developers is quite huge, but they can be grouped into various categories, each catering to developers across different programming languages, platforms, and development methodologies. Here are some of them:

Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) 

IDEs are among the most in-demand developer solutions. They offer comprehensive environments that consolidate various tools, code editors, and debugging capabilities in a single interface. 

Key features of an IDE include:

  • Code editor with features like syntax highlighting, code completion, and code suggestion, making it easier for developers to write code with fewer errors.
  • Compiler/Interpreter for various programming languages. These tools help developers convert their code into executable programs.
  • Debugging tools within an IDE assist developers in identifying and fixing errors in their code. They allow for step-by-step execution, breakpoints, and variable inspection to understand how the code behaves during runtime.
  • Many IDEs integrate with version control systems like Git. This allows developers to manage their codebase, track changes, collaborate with the team, and revert to previous versions if needed.
  • IDEs provide project management features to organize code files, resources, and configurations. This helps developers keep track of various components of their software projects.
  • Graphical user interface (GUI) designer. For languages that involve graphical user interfaces, IDEs often include tools for designing and creating user interfaces through a visual interface.
  • Autocomplete and code generation. IDEs offer features that suggest code snippets, functions, and variables as developers type, enhancing productivity and reducing the need to remember every detail of a language's syntax.
  • Code analysis and metrics. IDEs can analyze code for potential issues, such as unused variables, code smells, or potential runtime errors. They may also provide metrics on code complexity, which can help developers write cleaner and more maintainable code.
  • Integration with external tools, such as testing frameworks, build tools, and documentation generators.
  • Many IDEs support extensions and plugins that allow developers to customize the environment to their specific needs, adding additional features or language support.

Popular IDEs include Eclipse, Visual Studio, IntelliJ IDEA, PyCharm, and Xcode.

Visual Studio Code screenshot
Visual Studio Code

Collaboration and project management tools 

This type of tools grew in popularity after companies had to go remote. Such tools provide a structured framework for planning, tracking, and collaborating on tasks, ensuring that development teams can effectively manage their workloads and achieve project goals. Their functionality covers:

  • Task organization and tracking. Project management tools help break down complex projects into smaller, manageable tasks, making it easier for developers to understand what needs to be done. Developers can prioritize tasks, set deadlines, and allocate resources accordingly.
  • Project and task management tools facilitate communication and collaboration within development teams. This reduces the need for scattered communication channels and keeps all relevant discussions linked to the tasks they pertain to.
  • Many of these tools provide visual representations of workflows, such as Kanban boards or Gantt charts, to give an overview of task progress, identify bottlenecks, and allow for easy adjustments to timelines and priorities.
  • For teams following Agile methodologies, these tools are essential for managing sprints, user stories, and backlog items. They facilitate sprint planning, help estimate task complexity, and allow teams to adjust priorities based on feedback and changing requirements.
  • Project management tools enable managers to allocate tasks to team members based on their expertise and availability. This helps balance workloads and ensures that tasks are assigned to the most suitable team members.
  • Many tools offer reporting features that provide insights into project progress, task completion rates, and overall team performance. This data is valuable for evaluating the efficiency of development processes and making informed decisions.

Popular project and task management tools are Jira, Trello, Asana, Microsoft Planner.

Continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) tools

Continuous integration (CI) and Continuous deployment (CD) tools are essential components of modern software development practices. They help developers automate and streamline the process of integrating code changes, as well as testing and deploying them to production environments. This approach ensures that software remains functional, stable, and up-to-date, while reducing the risks associated with manual interventions and human error. Their major functionality includes:

  • Automation of integrating code changes into a shared repository. With each code commit, these tools trigger automated tests, ensuring that new changes do not break the existing functionality. This helps catch bugs early in the development cycle.
  • CI/CD tools enforce coding standards and quality checks. Code reviews, automated linting, and static code analysis are often part of the CI/CD pipeline, maintaining code consistency and reducing technical debt.
  • By integrating code frequently and running tests automatically, developers receive rapid feedback on the quality of their changes. This accelerates the development cycle and reduces the time taken to identify and fix issues.
  • CI/CD tools integrate with version control systems like Git, allowing developers to automate the process of building, testing, and deploying code changes as they are committed.
  • While CI focuses on code integration and testing, CD takes it a step further by automating the deployment of code changes to production environments. CD tools help ensure that code changes are not only tested but also deployed to production seamlessly, reducing the time between development and deployment.
  • CD tools often include strategies for rolling back or rolling forward changes in case of deployment failures. This minimizes the impact of issues and ensures a stable production environment.

Some notable tools include Jenkins, Travis CI, CircleCI, and GitLab CI/CD.

We discussed how tools can be classified by their purpose. Now let's take a brief look at how they function. 

On-premise vs cloud-based developer solutions

If you're thinking about entering the dev tools market, the choice between the on-premise model and cloud is crucial. Here’s a brief overview of both models to help you make the right decision

On-premise solutions

On-premise solutions involve hosting and managing software and infrastructure within an organization's own physical premises, such as data centers or servers. This approach provides a high degree of control and customization but requires significant upfront investment, ongoing maintenance, and expertise in managing hardware and software. On-premise solutions are often used when security and data control are critical, or when specific regulatory requirements must be met.

While they have their merits, cloud-based solutions are not only already more popular than on-premise ones, but will continue to grow more actively as well, so let’s focus more on their types.

Software development trends graph

Platform as a service (PaaS)

PaaS provides a platform and environment for developers to build, deploy, and manage applications without worrying about underlying infrastructure. PaaS offers tools, libraries, and services for application development, and it abstracts much of the infrastructure management. 

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)

IaaS offers virtualized computing resources over the internet. It provides organizations with virtual machines, storage, networking, and other resources on a pay-as-you-go basis. Users can set up and manage their own operating systems, applications, and development environments. IaaS is suitable for developers who want more control over their infrastructure while still avoiding the physical hardware management.

Software as a service (SaaS)

Finally, SaaS delivers software applications over the internet, with providers hosting and maintaining the software on their own servers. Users access the software through web browsers without needing to install or manage it locally. SaaS solutions are cost-effective, as they eliminate the need for hardware setup and maintenance. They're ideal for collaborative tools, project management software, and other applications that can be accessed from any location.

SaaS solutions also excel in scalability, enabling developers to easily adapt their toolset to meet the needs of projects of varying sizes and complexities. As development teams grow, they can effortlessly upgrade their subscriptions to add newmembers, making SaaS tools an attractive choice for startups and enterprises alike. Additionally, SaaS tools typically come with regular updates and maintenance, ensuring that developers have access to the latest features, security patches, and improvements without the burden of manual updates.

Simply put, if you're looking to create an easily scalable, monetizable tool which will solve the specific pain points of developers, SaaS is likely to be a good choice for you.

Github screenshot

Developer tools trends

As the software development market continues to evolve, new trends and innovations influence the development tool ecosystem. Two notable trends that have gained momentum are low-code/no code platforms and artificial intelligence, so let’s focus on them.

Low-code/no-code development platforms

These platforms are one of the key B2B SaaS design trends. They let non-developers create applications with minimal coding knowledge. They provide visual interfaces and drag-and-drop components to streamline the application development process. As the McKinsey review points out, low-code platforms influence the whole process of development, from start to finish.

Examples include platforms like OutSystems, Mendix, and Bubble. Website builder platforms, including Webflow which this website is built on, also belong to this category. 

OutSystems screenshot

Integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI):

AI-driven tools are becoming increasingly prevalent, aiding developers in tasks such as code completion, bug detection, and automated testing. AI enhances code quality and accelerates the development process.

Tools like GitHub Copilot, Microsoft IntelliCode, and DeepCode are utilizing AI to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of developers' workflows.

GitHub screenshot

Finally, a trend we need to discuss concerns UI/UX design. Considering the target audience, developer tools tended to focus less on usability and simplicity in comparison to the apps created for less tech-savvy audiences. However, the situation is changing. Smooth user experience and a clean interface are exactly the things that bring additional value to developer solutions and distinguishes an app from its numerous competitors.

Designing tools for developers

When it comes to designing tools for software developers, it's a whole different story that requires a unique approach. As a design agency specializing in SaaS, we at Eleken know that crafting effective developer tools demands a deep understanding of the software development process and the specific needs of developers, as well as smooth designer-developers collaboration.

Let’s consider one of our recent cases to better understand how it’s possible to achieve flawless design that every developer will find easy to use. One of our clients, PicaSaaS, offers ready-to-use modules of code their clients can choose via the platform and add in minutes to their own website or application, automating the product development process. So, our goal was to make the UX as simple as possible.

From the very first screen, we made the users' lives easier by adding login through integration with different services. This significantly saves the time for registration and allows quicker onboarding. 

PicaSaaS screenshot

We made sure that the devs can create and customize one's workspace with drag and drop. It's a perfect balance between leaving the users with the ability to tailor their workspace for their needs while leaving the user flow as simple and intuitive as possible. 

PicaSaaS screenshot

The dashboard is minimalistic and clean. Clear visual hierarchy, distinct fonts and buttons ensure the user can get all the necessary information at first glance without any confusion. No superficial elements distract the user, everything is to the point.

PicaSaaS screenshot

In the end, when you're designing for developers, everything should be straightforward and frictionless. 

In our work, we rely on best practices and design systems examples from leading companies that allows us to ensure any dev tool we work on is perfect for their users. After all, developers are only humans, and, just like everyone else, they love solutions which are easy to use and look good.

So, if you think of entering the developer tools market, ensure from the very beginning that your product's UI/UX supports your vision and not hinders it. At Eleken, we have vast experience of creating interfaces that boost developers' work. So, if you're looking for a design partner, drop us a line!

Stan Murash

Writer at Eleken