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Five handy web development tools

Not all web development needs expensive tools to be successful. Here are five free or inexpensive apps that prove it.

Although big budget Web development tools such as Microsoft's Visual Studio tend to be favored by professional developers, there are a number of other tools available. Many of these tools are free or inexpensive, and simple to use. Rather than trying to provide a comprehensive development environment, such tools might focus on a single aspect of the Web development process. In this blog post, I want to share with you some of the tools that I have found to be the most useful.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

Five Apps

1. Funduc Search and Replace

Funduc Search and Replace is one of many tools that are designed to search for text within files and make replacements. What makes this tool unique, however, is that it can perform searches and replacements across multiple files. For example, suppose that you need to change the path of the Image directory for every file in your entire site. This utility would allow you to easily accomplish this otherwise tedious chore with ease. The utility even offers a preview of the found text so that you can see what is about to be changed before you actually change it.

Funduc Search and Replace sells for $25, but a shareware version is available to download for free.

2. Notepad++

Notepad++ is a free utility for editing HTML files as well as files containing other programming languages. The utility allows you to specify the programming language that you want to work with and then provides language specific syntax highlighting. The interface also provides other helpful visual clues such as line numbering and conditional formatting.

On top of everything else, Notepad++ is loaded with extras such as search and replace functionality, case conversion, and options to run your code in specific browsers.

3. HTML-Kit

HTML-Kit is a free utility that is designed to help you to create and edit HTML files. Like Notepad++, HTML-Kit provides line numbering and syntax highlighting for HTML documents.

One of the most useful functions is the Preview mode which provides WYSIWYG editing of the Web page. For example, you can change text size, color, etc. and HTML-KIT will write the code to match your changes. In addition, HTML-Kit includes a number of useful tools such as a calculator, a file name insertion tool, and a Date / Time tool.

4. Offline Explorer

Offline Explorer costs a little bit more than the other applications discussed in this blog post, but I wanted to include it anyway because it is so useful.

Offline Explorer is a tool for downloading Web sites for offline viewing and editing. Although it is intended as a developer's tool, you can actually download just about any Web site for offline viewing. This tool can be especially useful for those who want to take advantage of down time and work on Web projects when no connectivity is available, such as while on a long flight.

Offline Explorer sells for $59.95, but a free 30-day trial is available for download.

5. HTML Converter

HTML Converter is a free Web app that can convert basic HTML code into PHO, JavaScript, or ASP code. This utility can be helpful for those situations in which you want to modernize a Web site that is made up of static HTML pages and do not want to have to completely start from scratch. To use this utility, simply copy your HTML code to the text box and then click the appropriate conversion button.

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15 comments
stefanbc
stefanbc

Useful list. Thanks for sharing. Another handy tool you could try and/or add to the list is Koding http://koding.com

inc_dude
inc_dude

For numbers 1, 2, & 3: Sublime Text

Number 3: WYSIWYG editing just makes things harder, and take longer. (touch the mouse as little as possible for the best results)

Number 4: Xampp or Lampp

Number 5: If you actually need to do this, you likely need to start from scratch anyway just to get your site visually modern.


Sublime is free to try for an unlimited period of time, or you can pay ~$70 and get rid of that pesky message. Xampp/Lampp are both free. Finally, ALWAYS use a versioning system, Git is preferred, but any system will do. 

CFWhitman
CFWhitman

A few editors along the lines of Notepad++, but that are cross platform (Notepad++ is Windows only) are Geany, Bluefish, and the Java based jEdit (which is no longer in development, but still works pretty well).

TK182
TK182

WIth number 5: "HTML Converter is a free Web app that can convert basic HTML code into PHO, JavaScript, or ASP code" should be PHP, not PHO

clavius
clavius

Notepad++ itself (one of the items in your list) can also do search/replace in files, as can most other professional-level text editors, including my editor of choice jEdit (www.jedit.org). So Funduc is really redundant here.

Blaszta
Blaszta

Do a developer need an offline version of a website is beyond my comprehension. But if you do need one, you can use free/open source: HTTrack (http://www.httrack.com/)

bcscomp
bcscomp

When you can use wget or if you use windows GNU Wget?

euromarkus
euromarkus

First of all, it's not PHO, it's PHP, under HTML Converter. Second, HTML Converter is horrible, it's ASP converter generates Perl (like the screen shot).

Duke E Love
Duke E Love

HTML-Kit is crap. Komodo, Aptana, Sublime, Netbeans or even MS Visual Web developer are LIGHTYEARS ahead of HTML-Kit >>One of the most useful functions is the Preview mode which provides WYSIWYG editing of the Web page. If you want WussyWig use MS Visual Web developer. >>HTML Converter? Who uses PHO, or ASP? ASP has been superseded by .Net for over 10 years. How did you get this gig? Did someone lose a bet or are you calling in a favor?

jvhulst
jvhulst

- For Funduc Search and Replace: The Ace HTML editor, even the freeware version, can also perform searches and replacements across multiple files and besides that, is a real HTML editor. http://www.visicommedia.com - For Offline Explorer: WinHTTrack. Does the same thing, i.e. downloading complete websites for offline browsing and is freeware! http://www.httrack.com/

technomom_z
technomom_z

Simple Rest Client for Chrome and similarly Fiddler 2 for testing REST services.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

What tools do you use for web development in your business? Do you stick with the big budget tools or do you prefer smaller tools?

phscnp
phscnp

... I was hoping to feed it some soup from Pho An 2 and see what happened.