One of the most common conversations I have with other developers centers around what tools we like the most for building a killer website. It is always a great conversation with no RIGHT answer, and I have been introduced to fantastic, time saving, tools via these conversations. I thought I would take a few minutes and give a quick recap of the key elements that I personally use, along with a short discussion of the pros and cons from where I sit.
Note: This is for local tools only, not SaaS providers. That will come in another post.
Aptana Studio – IDE
Apatana is an Eclipse based IDE that I use for all my coding. I started using it just for PHP and did my front end (html/css) work in Dreamweaver, but I have since switched to using Aptana for everything HTML/PHP/JS/CSS/FTL (FreeMarker Template Language is slightly obscure but growing layer that sits on top of Java environments). Like Eclipse you can fine tune it with many different plugins, I recommend JSLint and the jQuery library support. One of my favorite features is the built in Git support (which works perfectly with Github, but that’s for another day) also has nice built in FTP/SFTP support with the option of having multiple remote endpoints for projects. A very powerful all around IDE.
Aptana Studio - http://www.aptana.com/
MySql Workbench – Database Management
If you use MySql for your web based databases (and lets face it, who isn’t?) then MySQL Workbench is an absolute must. I used to use it only for visually mapping out a database, but have begun using it for management as well and I absolutely love it. phpMyAdmin is no longer even installed on any of my new systems.
MySQL Workbench – http://www.mysql.com/products/workbench/
FileZilla – FTP Client
I mostly use the FTP support in Aptana, but periodically you need to use a standalone FTP client. I have experimented with some paid apps (Forklift caught my interest, but it was slow/heavy) and still keep coming back to this old standby.
Photoshop – Graphic Editing Software
Cost: Varies $$$
Of course we come to photoshop, no matter if you’re a designer or not, if you’re working on the web, you really need to have a copy of photoshop on your machine (I have been forced to use Fireworks for some clients, and yes, it works, but I still prefer photoshop). It has been around forever, and is a great tool. I currently have CS4 on my machine, they are up to CS6, I know people still using CS, you probably don’t need all the bells and whistles that come in the newer versions. You just need something.
Adobe Photoshop – http://www.photoshop.com/
I think that is a good start to the list. There are other more niche tools that I use from time to time, and I might mention those a little later, and of course the many browser based tools and extensions. Let me know if you use these tools or if you would suggest something else.