News & Updates
3 Free Tools for Web Development
Article # 278 February 3rd, 2011
Web developers today have a wide variety of software tools available to get the job done and organize their work environment. Some products are available for a fee, of which some are quite expensive. For the casual user, or the financially challenged developer, this can be a barrier from getting started. In addition to the cost of the software, the learning curve on some packages is quite steep and can be very frustrating to the beginning developer or the casual web editor.
When I first began the life of becoming a web developer, I didn’t have much in the way of money to invest in high-end programs, or software packages to begin. I had WordPad, notepad and something I used called Nino (a Linux based text editor).
Since then, I’ve relied on some free tools and aside from one package I did invest in later, I still use these free (Shareware/Freeware) software tools today in my workings.
I love using my IDE editor because I was raised writing HTML code by hand, and it’s been a private joy of mine to be able to maintain the structure and format of my code.
The IDE of choice for me is PSPad, written by Jan Fiala, from the Czech Republic. PSPad is a free editor with an amazing array of functions and things it can do. I am still learning the ways of PSPad and with each new discovery, I find myself saying “Well worth the money I paid for this software”. (I have donated the $8.00 a few times now through the website).
I think the first thing I found about this software is that I could write my own code snippets, which automated the process for so many things for me, it’s like having pre-recorded macros in a library and I only had to enter a single keystroke and the screen populates with the code snippet I need. What a timesaver!! I was hooked, and I’m still in love with this software.
The second thing I found in PSPad that I didn’t find in any other free editor, was built-in FTP client support. It provides me the ability to login to a remote site, browse files and edit them on the server, with a backup copy stored locally. Projects and other excellent tools abound with this software and I can’t say enough good things about it without running out of room in this article. PSPad is my number one tool, and the free price tag wasn’t the real reason for loving it, but it sure helped when I needed a low cost solution in a hurry to let me get into the web development mainstream.
In order to work on websites, you will need an FTP client. Without it, I don’t know how files can be transferred. I immediately found Filezilla, which is a freeware FTP client that is more than capable in its abilities to handle my workloads. It has an excellent “Site Management” tool, which allows me the freedom of exporting all my logins and credentials to an XML file which I store on a USB key, and can transfer from my desktop to laptop on the go, and not have to worry about passwords or login info.
The ability to handle multiple ftp connections simultaneously gives me the freedom to work on multiple hosts at one time, and I have full control over how I want the files to appear, and the layout of the application is as flexible, giving my work environment total fluidity and ease of organizing my files and directories.
Filezilla automatically updates itself when new versions are released, which I really like because I hate having to do it myself. Filezilla is by far my favorite FTP client, and again it’s a free product.
If you have several files that you need to upload at once, or in my case sometimes thousands of files to upload (or download), a real time-saver is to compress them into one archive file, and then decompress it when it’s completed uploading (or downloading). It saves time, and that’s money in my world, so it saves me money – period. To do this, I like using a product called Winrar.
There are several compression software packages available as freeware, and I was a big fan of Win Zip for years, but recently changed my allegiance to this company as it works fast, and it works well.
You might already have a preference, if so, use what works well for you.
It’s often said “Money makes the world go ‘round” and sometimes I tend to agree, but there are something’s in life that are free, and the tools I’ve talked about here are just that. So if you’re just getting started in web development, or you’re a programmer who’s looking to use something different and exciting, then feel free to check these items out and add them to your growing software arsenal. I can honestly tell you there’s no shame in using tools that didn’t send you to the bank for loan and still work as well as the day you got them – if not BETTER.
You can download PSPad free at www.pspad.com
WinRar is available at www.win-rar.com
FileZilla is available at www.filezilla.com