3 Must-Have Tools for Every Junior Software Developer

Dan Pickett

By Dan Pickett

March 20, 2022


If you’re just getting started with coding, one of the first decisions you’ll make is which developer tools you want to use. There are thousands of tools to choose from, and as a junior software developer without much experience, the choices can be overwhelming.

We see our coding bootcamp students face this question all the time. We want to help you avoid analysis paralysis, choose the right tools, and take the next step in your learning to code journey. We’ll share 3 essential tools for every junior software developer—and our top picks for each tool. 

Getting Started With Web Development

Before you can choose tools, you need to know what type of application development you want to work in. There are significant differences between developing for web, Mac/Windows, or iOS/Android. If you’re a junior software developer, we think the best place to start is with web development.

Why? With 4.66 billion users worldwide, the web is still the most pervasive medium for delivering software. It’s also the most accessible: there are plenty of readily available and up-to-date resources on modern web development. And the skills you’ll develop through web development translate well to other types of software development, too.

Top 3 Junior Software Developer Tools

As a developer, your job is to give the computer meaningful instructions that it can understand. There are tons of tools available to execute this task, but we recommend sticking with the three essentials: code editor, web browser, and terminal.

Code Editor

A code editor is where you write (and edit)—well—your code. Code editors are text-based applications that help developers write software efficiently. Think of it like a word processor like Microsoft Word, but instead of writing a document, you’re writing code.

As a junior web developer, your code editor should help you write error-free code. But it shouldn’t bog you down with too much functionality that makes it difficult to use.

Best Code Editor. As of publication of this article, the Launch Academy experts pick Visual Studio Code as the recommended editor for junior developers. This lightweight editor is free and open source. It doesn’t require a ton of memory, so it won’t slow down your machine. But, it still packs a punch with the ability to support many extensions and accommodate multiple programming languages.

Web Browser

Even if you’re just starting in software development, you’ve probably used a web browser for years (in fact, it’s where you’re reading this piece right now!). But in the context of software development, the web browser is where you’ll pull up your code to see how it works and what kind of user experience it provides.

Selecting a web browser was an extremely important decision a decade ago; the browser experience, including how a web page was rendered, really varied from browser to browser.. But the market has since evolved, and the top two browsers—Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome—have much of the same tech at their core.

Best Web Browser for Web Development. Even though most browsers are almost equal, Google Chrome is our top pick as of publication of this piece. It’s the market leader, and especially as a junior web developer, you want to build your skills in the applications most people are using.

We like using Chrome Canary, which incorporates new browser features that haven’t yet been formally released, for active development. It allows you to stay ahead of the curve and build with the future in mind.


A terminal is the hub you use to issue commands to your machine. If the editor is where you write the code, the terminal is where you execute it. The command line of a terminal is much more efficient for developers than using a graphical interface.

You can use a terminal to run code, debug code, test your code, start servers, and more. A terminal also issues shell commands, which are more complex commands baked into an operating system. You might use a shell commands tomanipulate files, save files, or commit source files to a remote repository.

For junior web developers in particular, we recommend using an external terminal that is separate from the code editor. When you separate writing applications from executing them, it makes the context switching easier and allows you to work more quickly. If you’re working with programming languages like JavaScript, Ruby on Rails, or Python on a Windows application, you’ll want a terminal that gets Windows to behave more like a Unix or Linux system. Something like Git Bash or the Windows Subsystem for Linux is what we often recommend.

Best Coding Terminal. At the time of publication of this piece, our top terminal tool is iTerm2. This terminal is available for Mac and runs on macOS 10.14 or newer. It’s free, easy to use, and has a bunch of cool features to make executing commands more efficient.

What is an Integrated Development Environment—and Do I Need One?

An integrated development environment (IDE) is a “one stop shop” for web development. It bundles the code editor, web browser, and coding terminal into a single product. Examples of IDEs include the Jetbrains suite: IntelliJ IDEA for Java, PyCharm for Python, RubyMine for Ruby on Rails, and more.

These all-inclusive environments do have many features, but we find them heavy-handed, complex to learn, and clunky to run. While they do have their place, we don’t recommend an IDE for junior software developers.

Are You Sure I Don’t Need More Developer Tools?

There are so many tools out there for software development—it’s tempting to try all of them! But if you’re still a coding beginner, the best approach is to focus on a few fundamental tools before moving on to try something new. As you learn more, you’ll naturally incorporate more tools. But the best way to build skills—and confidence—is to start with the essentials.

Put some code into an editor, run a command through a terminal, and view the results in a web browser. That early success will help you stay motivated as your journey in learning to code continues!

Interested in launching a career in software development? Download the Launch Academy syllabus to learn more about our coding bootcamp!