Most useful tools for a web developer

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe” – Abraham Lincoln

Likewise, any web developer needs to be aware of the tools which aids in faster and better web development. In this article, I wish to introduce few tools which I found to be immensely helpful for any budding web developer to have it in their arsenal.

  • Editors :- To start with, a developer needs an editor, a tool in which development happens and where the developer spends most part of the time. So, it is only wise that developers choose the right editor. Although, it takes time to get comfortable using any editor, it is worth the effort to try out different editors and choose one which is helpful the most. The choices vary from developers to developers and it is best left to the individual to make a choice.

I started with Notepad++ but eventually found Sublime Text to be the one suitable for me. These two seems to be the most popular choices, but I have seen my friends use other alternatives such as Eclipse and Aptana, which are popular too.

At the end, it comes down to individual preference. You may try the above listed ones and find out which suits you the most. Once, you narrow down on the editor of your choice, you really want to master the features and shortcuts. This not only makes writing codes easier, but also fun.

  • Online Editors :- Web development is more of working with the code by trial and error and many a times we find ourselves lazy to setup the environment needed to run a simple page or may be to test a simple use case. Fortunately, in such cases, we have many truly amazing editors available online that can do the task from structuring files to including libraries & from being able to edit the code and see the output side by side, saving a lot of time and setup.

Few popular & free ones are that every developer must know: jsfiddle, CodePen, Plunker.

 

  • Firebug/Firebug Lite: Firebug is a popular add-on to the Firefox browser. Basically, firebug is an extension to the Developer Tools which is a default feature in most of the browsers. Firebug provides a rich visual representation of DOM Elements, Box Model, Live Editing and much more. No doubt, Firebug is very popular with web developers. Firebug Lite is a similar add-on but for Google Chrome.

 

  • Validators : It is always a good practice to make sure our code confirms to the standards. So, it makes sense to make it a point to validate our code against the validators. There are many official/unofficial validators that are present. Few of them which I have used are listed below:

 

  • Google Fonts: Google Fonts offers hundreds of free fonts, which we can make use of to design better looking websites. All we need is to browse for the fonts here and then quickly reference those fonts in our website as external CSS or copy and paste the script provided into our JavaScript code. Also provided, is the option to download those fonts and use them locally in our web pages.

 

  • Version Control: Keeping track of your developments in a distributed environment is a difficult task. Many a times, multiple developers work on large modules. Merging those multiple and parallel changes into the main code, maintaining a history of changes, being able to work independently across geographies and still being able to contribute to the development, being able to revert the changes in code back to a certain point in time etc. can everything be managed by version control softwares. Apache Subversion and Git are the most popular open-sourced version control softwares, every developer needs to be aware of.

Version control in itself is a vast and complex topic. Since this article aims to make aware tools every developer must know, I thought it wise to give a brief introduction of version control softwares too. There are plenty of resources on web which will get you started on this.

  • YSlow: YSlow is a wonderful tool by Yahoo!, available as an add-on to browsers. YSlow analyses the the performance of the web page across parameters and suggests ways to improve the same.

 

Note: Listed above are few tools, I found to be immensely helpful in developing web applications. These tools have made easy for web developers and hence knowing them is a must. These tools help us improve our shortcomings in the quality of the code and improves our coding techniques, thereby confirming to the standards. Feel free to suggest the tools, you found to be helpful in the comments. I shall definitely consider them and add it to the above list.

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