Upgrade Your Web Development Skills With These 10 Essential Tools
Becoming a web developer is a process. Whether you are taking your first steps into code, or already know how to program but are moving into online browser-based applications, there is a lot to take in.
Luckily for anyone wanting to start, there are many great tools which can help you. Today you’ll discover 10 of the best!
A good code editor is essential for developing web apps. Sublime Text used to rule the roost in terms of lightweight feature-rich text editors for coding. Slowly, developers seem to be moving to Microsoft’s open source Visual Studio Code hybrid code editor.
It’s easy to see why, with a vast array of extensions to help all kinds of development, and a built-in collaborative coding Live Share feature. Code completion, linting, and an integrated terminal make VS Code the only thing you need for developing apps, websites, and software.
If you are learning to develop for the web, you should be using Chrome Developer Tools. Available free with the Google Chrome browser, they give robust inspection and debugging on all websites.
Highlighting page elements in code and vice versa allows you to get a good sense of how websites come together. There is also a built-in device emulator for testing how websites work on a variety of devices. Powerful site metrics and security checking make Chrome Developer Tools essential for all web devs.
For a simple but effective way to work out custom grid sizes, GridGuide can help. Its simple user interface allows you to specify width, columns, and outer gutter ratio.
It returns examples of what different sized grid settings will look like along with the pixel values required to replicate it in your visual design. Grids are shareable and available as PNG files for later reference.
Frequent community showcases and challenges are open to developers at all levels, and examples of almost anything you’d want to make in the browser are available to view, or fork for your own use.
ObjGen takes input in the left window and converts it into JSON in the right window, which saves in the browser, or a JSON file for later use. Perfect for anyone learning data visualization and full stack web development.
Getting the color scheme right for your website is an essential part of any design. You’ll find many apps online which allow you to generate and build color palettes for free. Coolers is an example of a simple to use app which helps you settle on your visual feel.
The space bar generates a new color palette as a starting point. Each color comes with alternatives and tweaking tools to get it just right. When you are happy with a color, you can lock it and generate new colors based on it. Available for free in the browser (and available as an iOS app) it’s an excellent tool for all frontend designers.
This browser-based API documentation browser is free and gives programmers a quick place to reference multiple codebases using a simple web UI.
All major languages are supported, and any that you choose are searchable, available offline in the browser, as a plugin to VS Code and Sublime Text, and on mobile.
DevDocs is a game changer, giving quick access to documentation for your project.
A not-so-secret about web development: CSS sucks. Luckily there are options out there to make styling your websites easier. Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets (Sass) is a CSS extension language for quick and easy website structure.
Completely compatible with already available CSS libraries, various frameworks are also available to kick start your design. Inheritance, Mixins, and Operators are all supported in Sass, making it a powerful tool for browser-based projects.
Frontend frameworks come and go, but currently, ReactJS is dominating web development. Designed by Facebook and a community of developers under the MIT license, it is the most popular single-page app tool and can fit into any web application.
ReactJS looks good on any web development CV; job postings for ReactJS developers show no signs of slowing down!
Having a site that loads quickly is essential. No matter how well you design your user experience, slow running web pages are an immediate turnoff. Chrome Developer Tools can give you metrics for your site. Sometimes, however, it’s nice to get an outside impression of how your website performs.
Pingdom provides a service to test the speed of your website and gives various metrics to help you debug what might be slowing you down. The test grades each element for performance and advises what you can improve on. Pingdom has a limited free service, with paid models available on a sliding scale.
The Right Tools for the Job
Having the right tools to hand makes any job more manageable. When that job is learning web development, then it can improve your overall experience.
All the tools in the world can’t replace experience and practice. The best way to improve is to pick some beginner programming projects to get you started.