Web developer’s library: What you should have
Every web developer, or even aspiring web developer needs a set of tools that will help them keep up with the fast-pace coding world. Some are your own resources, while others are a must-have for every developer. Below are the seven things any web developer would absolutely need to be successful.
If you plan to start developing websites more proficiently, it’s time to take a step up from Notepad. Depending on what language you like to code in, different editors may serve you better.
For the basics though, every web designer or web developer should download Notepad++. It is a versatile, and more powerful, version of the basic Notepad. As a benefit, it’s still lightweight and has a similar interface. Very popular for those who code back and forth between plain HTML/XHTML, CSS, and some light OOP programming like PHP, JavaSript, etc.
If you code in a more advanced language, though, there are plenty of other options available, depending on the language. Just to a Google search, look up reviews, etc. One I recommend is Eclipse.
Although a web developer often times has a much different job description than a web designer, every web developer should own a high quality image editor. Depending on whether you do most of the graphics work or not, you’ll have to update logos, images, and website graphics at some point to make them work with the development side of the spectrum.
That being said, Adobe Photoshop is the best permanant solution to this problem, as it is mainstream. Especially when working with a web designer or graphic designer, you will need compatible software to deal with PSD files.
If you are a beginner and just want some practice, then of course, a cheaper image editor is more reasonable. Below are listed some of the most popular Photoshop alternatives:
- Krita – http://www.koffice.org/krita
- Gimp – http://www.gimp.org
- Corel Products – http://www.corel.com (Paint Shop Pro, Corel Draw, Painter 11, etc.)
Part of any web developer’s library should be their own personal tutorial and reference library. Because web development is an ever expanding venue, it is important that a web developer be constantly learning new tricks, languages, and updates.
Keeping a set list of favorite tutorial sites, and programming update sites is a must. Among them should be the standard sites per each programming language. For example, PHP.net is a must-have bookmark for a PHP developer.
Any web developer should also have W3Schools in their tutorial library. With compliance standards in mind, this is the perfect tutorial reference. They will never go out of business, because they are the leader in web programming standards. Also, the tutorials are written by professionals, guaranteed.
So standard tutorial sites are a must, but every developer should also have their own list of favorite tutorial sites that help them stand out from the croud. Different people learn differently, and sometimes it takes a unique tutorial writer to get the message across. Keep a list of tutorial sites that include tutorials you can understand the best.
How many times do you look up the same snippit of code, or forget the exact syntax of a basic action? Cheatsheets are here to help, and there’s many more floating around than one may think. There are cheatsheets for things as basic as HTML, to more advanced languages like PHP, and even for platforms like WordPress. A web developer should keep a local copy of cheatsheets he or she feels could be helpful in the future.
To name a few:
- HTML: http://floele.flyspray.org/htmlcheatsheet.pdf
- CSS: http://www.addedbytes.com/cheat-sheets/css-cheat-sheet
- jQuery: http://www.gscottolson.com/weblog/2008/01/11/jquery-cheat-sheet
- PHP: http://www.addedbytes.com/cheat-sheets/php-cheat-sheet
- MySQL: http://www.addedbytes.com/cheat-sheets/mysql-cheat-sheet
- WordPress: http://wpcandy.com/wp-content/uploads/WordPress-Help-Sheet.pdf
- Advanced WordPress: http://wpcandy.com/wp-content/uploads/Advanced-WordPress-Help-Sheet.pdf
You could also make your own cheatsheets for whatever you need personally. Even if their not as organized for public use like the above cheatsheets are, a cheetsheat of any type can save you a lot of time searching.
Development in an old browser can be a trainwreck. With an updated browser, work will go faster, and as an added benefit there are a lot of addons for newer browsers, like the Firefox Web Developer Plugin.
Keeping an updated browser can also help you help others see your work correctly. While testing is important among various browsers, it’s easier to test cross-browser compatibility with an updated version looking back on older versions, than it is to try to look at the effects of an updated browser on an older version.
This is an obvious one, but an FTP client is, of course, needed by any web developer. So, it goes into the web developer’s library. Although a web developer can do all the grunt work on a local server if wanted, at some point they’ll need to upload it. An FTP client is the most efficient way to manipulate files over the web. Other ways may be in-browser file uploaders or other tools supplied by a web host. Connecting with your own FTP, though, allows more control and quicker manipulation.
FileZilla is an open-source, powerful FTP client that easily compares with paid FTP programs like CuteFTP or SmartFTP. It is by far the most widely used FTP client because of its obvious benefits over other free versions.
No web developer will stick to an initial set of resources forever. It is important to always find new things, keep updated, and learn constantly. Find a reader so that you can subscribe to your favorite sites for inspiration and knowledge. A bookmarking site like StumbleUpon, Technorati, or Digg may also be help to keep track of interesting finds across the web.
I just use iGoogle to keep track of the RSS feeds of my favorite sites, so I’m always updated. I’ll also bookmark interesting things on StumbleUpon if I want to remember where they’re at. For me, I use these two because I use them almost everyday, so I won’t forget to check on them. It’s also not a ‘chore’ to check my favorite feeds everyday–they just pop up everytime I go to Google, or submit an article to StumbleUpon.