The beginning of the year is always a good time to look back at all the things – good and bad – that happened over the last 12 months. But today let’s just focus on the good. Hence, this list of the best WordPress dev tools of 2021!
The year has really been generous in that regard, and we’ve seen more cool additions to the WordPress developer’s toolbox than you can shake a stick at … if you’re the kind of person who shakes sticks at dev tools.
With that said, this isn’t just any ol’ random list. To compile this beauty, I went around the office and asked each teammate to share their top 3-5 non-obvious tools for the list. This is real, guys(!), coming from people who build WordPress themes for a living!
Check the list out:
14 of the best WordPress dev tools of 2021
This is not just one of the best WordPress dev tools of 2021; this is great for any API developer looking for a powerful, full fledged solution for their API workflow. If you have ever worked with API development then you know that setting up test environments is a tedious, boring process. Not with Postman.
Postman is extremely easy to use with an excellent focus on testing. The multiple environments for testing are not only easy to set up but you can also share your test cases between them. This will speed up the essential, but time consuming, practice of API testing.
Our lead developer, Marius Cristea, is a big fan:
Postman makes everything simple; you can easily set up custom workflows for calling the routes using a simple interface, save requests and parameters and share them with your teammates.
The collections are a great way to manage your API requests and keep them organized for future use. You can then use the monitoring schedule to periodically run the collection for performance and response. The monitoring tool will also allow you to select the environment(s) and run tests. Any tests that fail will trigger a notification to any number of integrations; Slack, Microsoft Teams, GitHub, Dropbox and so on.
If you’re looking for a simple solution for continuous integration and delivery, then Buddy Works is the best place to start. Of all the CI/CD tools available, Buddy has the best UI for easy building, testing, and deployment.
Buddy Works will integrate with GutHub, Bitbucket, GitLab, and private repositories to provide automatic deployments to FTP/SFTP and cloud service like AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Digital Ocean. It is Docker-based, but supports Kubernetes right out the box. It also supports multiple languages from PHP, C++, .NET, Node.js, Golang and more.
It sounds odd to say but the ease of setup and, far superior, UX make Buddy Works the standout tool of the year. It will also reduce your required tools with strong DevOps and website monitoring actions. You will even be able to use SSH scripts to help reduce your tool load. You will also enjoy the reduced update time with changed files deployed rather than the whole repository.
Integration and deployment are nothing without well-formatted code. This is why Prettier is one of our best WordPress dev tools of 2021. It is billed as an opinionated code formatter that will provide a cleaner style to your projects. With that, it is only about the style, which ensures the abstract syntax tree will remain functional.
You can find a style guide anywhere, but the automation provided by Prettier is the big selling point here. At the click of a button, Prettier will run through your dirty code and do all that formatting that you dread. In the end, the consistency and readability of your code is the most important thing, leave the tabs vs. spaces debates to the comedians.
After nearly twelve years, Visual Studio remains popular among developers from every discipline. This year, Microsoft have made it one of the best WordPress dev tools of 2021 with the Live Share extension for VS Code and VS 2017.
The Live Extension will allow you to share your project in an instant with your colleagues no matter which language you’re programming in, or which OS you’re on. It makes the editing and debugging process a real-time collaboration without the delays associated with repo clog and environment setups. You can share nearly everything, not your coffee, from audio, servers, terminals, and diffs. You can share the entire context with your teammates, if there’s a flaw in your environment then your teammate will see it. You’ll be able to dig into problems faster and deeper than ever before.
It really brings everything together with the audio tools that help facilitate communication within the app, rather than using different tools to sync. Your teammates will also see everything from commands to databases without the need to expose your ports. This is the future of collaboration with shared control making it easier for teams to find problems and apply changes in the moment.
OK, I am cheating a little bit with this one but it is going to be a life-saver. If you regularly work with clients then you know how hard it can be to agree on a vision for a website. You also probably work with designers and marketers to find / develop content that will highlight a service. How long does it take you to put together a prototype after all of the stakeholders have their say? How long does it take you to refine the prototype until everyone agrees? A long time?
Draftium is a “turbo prototyping tool” that easily meets the criteria for best WordPress dev tools of 2021. It will help you put together a website structure in a few minutes using blocks. The paid plan has over 300 templates tailored to industries and niches, which can then be enhanced by over 200 blocks. Collaborate in real-time to speed up the approval process and stop waiting for emails to inch your project forward. It also comes with free visuals like icons and images to help you make the site as real as possible.
This is far better than a piece of paper, or a white board, or KeyNote even. When you start a project and everyone needs to see the “vision” then this is the best tool for getting started.
Telepresence is one of the best WordPress dev tools of 2021 because it speeds up that brutal Kubernetes develop/debug cycle by removing the container build and deploy process from the equation. You will see all of your code changes immediately because Telepresence makes your laptop, or desktop, part of the Kubernetes cluster through proxies.
Kubernetes clusters will integrate the local code on your workstation as a normal pod and allow you full access to the live environment. This means your local process will have a similar environment to the remote cluster while remaining in your control. Not only that, but the strain on your local resources is much, much lower. Finally, it is tool agnostic. You can use any locally installed tool to test, debug, and edit the remote service.
You might be wondering about Minikube. Telepresence works well with Minikube while giving you increased functionality for faster development. If you want to do live coding and editing on your Kubernetes clusers then Telepresence is a musthave tool.
When we were searching for the best WordPress dev tools of 2021, we looked for tools that promised to improve your overall experience. Parcel is a web application bundler that fulfills that promise. When a tool says “zero plugins required”, then we immediately think improved experience.
You will immediately see an improvement in speed because it takes full advantage of multi-core processing for parallel code compilation. The initial builds are going to be as much as 50% faster. When you use Parcel with cache, you will see incredibly fast startups. The zero configuration promise is a big selling point with options like code splitting and transforms available from the start. No heavy lifting required.
8. Vim Plugins
Despite being 27 years old, Vim is still one of the top 5 text editors used by developers today. This means we need to have it as one of the best WordPress dev tools of 2021. Luckily for us, there are always new plugins being created to help users make the most of this tool. These are the three best of 2021:
👉 Vim Headfirst gives you commands that will quickly open sibling files in Vim.
👉 Vim Branch Stack will help you find the branching path for a current line of code. If you work with long functions and nested branches then you’ll love this.
👉 Vim Ruby Block Helpers makes it easier for you to get around Ruby blocks with new mappings and keystrokes for Vim.
Speedline is the node module used by Lighthouse, and it was the first tool I put on this whole list of the best WordPress dev tools of 2021. It measures the visual progress of the visible page and provides a rating based on how quickly the content loads. Forget about milestones that users don’t care about and think about what they see.
Speedline will give you a deeper understanding of the end users’ experience because it is focused on the speed at which visible content is delivered to the viewport. You can measure other milestones, but this is one of the best measurements for end user experience.
React Performance Devtool is the best way to do it. It is currently available as an extension for Chrome and Firefox with a standalone app on the roadmap. It compiles its statistics via the window.performance API and provides you with both the overall view and the granular view for every component.
Storybook is a learning tutorial for building UI components from scratch using Angular, Vue, or React. It takes a broad but battle-worn approach to UI component creation with information from industry professionals to help you get building faster.
It’s one of the best WordPress dev tools of 2021 because it is straightforward. In just two hours, less for experienced developers, you will put together a working task box with commits at the end of every chapter. After you finish your task box, you will be ready to start building new components with Storybook immediately.
Each of the chapters is clear and they take you through each of the important stages from composite components, testing, to Addons. There is a good balance between basics and advanced with edge cases specifically mentioned. You will also see that more advanced options are acknowledged every step of the way, too. If you’re looking for a quick way to cover the basics of UI component creation then this is the best place to start.
Deployer has been around for a while, but it is still one of the best WordPress dev tools of 2021. If you are still deploying manually then you have probably had at least a few errors along the way. While errors might be natural, you can save yourself time, money, and opportunity with an automated option. Deployer for PHP remains one of the best automated tools for PHP deployments.
There are a lot of automated deployment tools, but few of them are easier to use than Deployer. If you run into any trouble then the documentation is clear and easy to follow. Deployer will take your repos from GitHub to a number of popular PHP frameworks, like WordPress, which allows you to seamlessly transition between projects.
If an error is discovered or a bug emerges then Deployer supports easy rollback with
dep rollback to take you to the previous release. Errors should be fewer with the use of atomic deployments baked into the app.
When you need to move through a series of tasks, Deployer will help you with support for parallel tasks, which can then be used later on other servers and in other projects.
Sometimes I wonder how many tools are abandoned because the documentation is too hard to parse. Experienced developers might be able to muddle their way through any documentation. However, for less experienced users, the documentation is the key to converting them to lifelong users. Dimer is one of the best WordPress dev tools of 2021 because it helps you make better documentation.
Dimer offers an easier way to structure your documentation with sections created after each h2 tag. You also get compiler errors when important components are missing. The editor is limited (in a good way) to provide font families that ensure readability of your final document. If you’re feeling adventurous, then you can integrate with GitHub to establish rules for publishing documents after every commit, merge, or release.
Dimer is currently in Beta, which means you can enjoy the Pro features for free while development is going on. For developers who hate to write, the reminders and limitations are the best way to take advantage of your knowledge while also providing readable documentation for your users.
Users can copy a link, or even provide the JSON version of the data, with a single click. If you have ever had to interrogate users for browser information then this tool will come as quite a relief. The roadmap includes checking for ad blockers, and detection for connection speeds.
- Change the Way Your WordPress Site Works With Functions
- How to Automate WordPress Development Workflow
- How to Retrieve Any Post You Want With WP_Query
- Productivity Tools for Designers and WordPress Users
- WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
That’s it from us! Maybe you know of any other worthy WordPress dev tools that should find themselves on this list? Let us know in the comments below!
Don’t forget to join our crash course on speeding up your WordPress site. With some simple fixes, you can reduce your loading time by even 50-80%: