Web Developer Tools for Low Cost Web Development

By Scott Clark

In our last article we showed you some free online web development tools as well as a free open source shopping cart CMS. In this article we will look at some economical web development tools that, while not free, are well worth the cost to the developer on a tight budget.

5 Web Development Tools Every Developer Uses

Every web developer needs some basic software in order to develop and design a website. With the current economy, many developers are in the position where they need to minimize the cost of development tools. To begin with, we will look at some basic software, including an:

  • HTML editor
  • WYSIWYG design tool
  • Image editor
  • SSH/Telnet client
  • FTP client

HTML Editors Don't Have To Be Expensive: Notetab Pro

For years I have been touting the useful features, functionality and very affordable price of NoteTab Pro, an HTML editor that is like Notepad on steroids. It handles multiple files, even huge ones, allows system-wide searches, and multi-line/page global replacements.

Notetab Pro

It also has a spellchecker, and allows the developer to create document templates, add bookmarks, and features a library feature that allows developers to code in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, ASP and more (you can see it at the bottom of the screen shot above). Oh, and it sells for the reasonable price of $30 for the Pro version, $20 for the Standard version, and there is even a free version that includes almost all of the features and functionality of the paid versions.

WYSIWYG Tools Make It Easier: Expression Studio 4 Web Professional

When I think of the term WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), I think of bloated code that would make most CMSes choke up, and stop an HTML validator in its tracks. Then I think in terms of the price of the most popular web design programs with WYSIWYG functionality and I look at my trusty Notetab Pro with love in my eyes and money left in my wallet. That said, lately I have noticed that many of the large software development companies have released web development tools that are, if not free, at least inexpensive enough that I, and most developers with a limited budget, can afford.

One such application is Microsoft Expression Studio 4 Web Professional, which is actually a suite made of of three applications: Expression Web, Encoder and Design. Expression Web is essentially the current product that was formerly known as FrontPage, but it has been greatly improved, with additional functionality and much cleaner, tighter (non-bloated) code. Expression Web is designed for non-programmers who want a visual environment for creating high quality websites, and the full version retails for $149. A 60-day trial version is available, and it includes all the functionality of the full version.

Expression Web

Expression Web allows developers to work with the languages of their choice, including PHP, HTML/XHTML, CSS, JavaScript, ASP.NET and ASP.NET AJAX. It also includes visual diagnostics and cross-browser debugging features that simplify the testing phase of website development. The other tools that are included are Encoder, which is a video encoding tool that enables developers to post videos on their websites, and Design, which allows developers to create and edit graphics for use on websites.

Even If You Aren't a Graphic Artist, You Need An Image Editor: PaintShop Photo Pro X3

Just because you are a web developer, it doesn't mean you are a graphic artist. That said, if you are developing websites, regardless if your clients provide their own images for a website you may be developing, you will need to edit some images. Whether you are creating thumbnails, a favicon for the site, or need to create an image with a transparent background, you will need to use an image editor. That doesn't mean you will need to master Adobe Photoshop, but you will need an image editor with more features than the image editor that ships with Microsoft Windows (MS Paint). Enter Corel's PaintShop Photo Pro X3.

PaintShop Photo Pro X3

PaintShop Photo Pro X3 is the latest iteration of Ulead's PhotoImpact image editor. Corel bought Ulead, and incorporated some of the features of PhotoImpact into the product that eventually became known as PaintShop Photo Pro X3. Standard features include:

  • Photo Organizer
  • Batch Processing
  • Express Lab
  • Smart Carver
  • Object Extractor
  • Enhanced Vibrancy

The retail price for PaintShop Photo Pro X3 is only $60, and they do offer a 30-day free trial version that includes full functionality.

SSH and Telnet Clients Save Time: PuTTY

At some point, you will need to telnet or SSH into your web server, unpack some files, move or create directories, or perform some other mundane function on your web server. It isn't something you will need to do on a regular basis if you are using a CMS, but none-the-less, it's one of the tools you will need in your web developer's toolbox. Enter PuTTy.

PuTTy

PuTTY is both an SSH and telnet client. It isn't the prettiest software you will ever see, but it is functional, and best of all, it's free. You don't even have to install it--just download one file, and double click on that file and PuTTy will run. Enter the info required to telnet or SSH in (server address, username and password) and you're in!

FTP Clients Move Your Files: WS_FTP Professional

Unless you are using a CMS that includes upload functionality, or your web host's CPanel to upload files to your web server, you will need an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client to move files from your local computer to your web server. An FTP client usually shows the files on your local computer on one side, and the files on your web server on the other side. One such FTP client that has been popular for years is IPSwitch' WS_FTP.

WS_FTP Pro

WS_FTP Professional is a secure FTP client that works over SSL, FTPS and SSH/SFTP protocols. It allows developers to tranfer files back and forth, create directories on both the local computer and web server, rename files, and otherwise perform file transfer functions. It retails for $55, and like the others, IPSwitch offers a 30-day free trial.

Conclusion

We've shown you that web development doesn't have to be expensive--you can design and develop websites without spending a fortune on your tools. Hopefully you have learned about some tools that you will want to give a try, and perhaps add to your own web developer toolbox.

If you know of other free or economical web development tools, please leave a comment below!



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