The abundance of web development tools available can make the
process of selecting one a little overwhelming. In the end, it comes down to
personal preference and what fits your needs. Basically, you need a way to
create your code and then preview, test, and debug it. You might also require
specialty tools depending on the project.

I’m sharing which tools are must-haves for my web
development projects. My list includes a code editor, browser tools, and a
framework for turning designs into reality.

Also read: The three must-have tools for ASP.NET developers and The three must-haves for C# developers

Building your application

Whether it is standard HTML or dynamic code like PHP or
ASP.NET, you need a good editor to put it all together. I have used a number of
editors over the years, and the one I like and use daily is WebMatrix. The latest
version is a free download and has everything you need to build prototypes and
the final product. In addition, there are a variety of templates available to
quickly build an application.

Although WebMatrix
is a Microsoft offering, you are not restricted to Microsoft technologies, as
it can be used for PHP-based applications and those using HTML/CSS/JavaScript
standards. It only runs on Microsoft Windows, though I run it on my Mac in a
Windows VM.

I know Microsoft doesn’t have the best reputation in the web
development community, so if you choose to explore other options, you might
start with Dreamweaver,
Brackets, or a cloud-based tool such as Cloud9.

Browser tools

The latest version of Firefox offers some great tools, but I’m still a big fan
of Chrome and its developer tools and the wide variety of extensions
available. With a few clicks, you can easily access the JavaScript console and
developer tools. The tools allow you to dig into every detail of a web page and
its code: JavaScript, HTML DOM, CSS classes and elements, and so forth. One of
my favorite features is the ability to edit CSS elements on the fly to quickly
view how changes affect the interface.

A good foundation

There are freely available frameworks that provide the foundation for your own application; these frameworks utilize the latest techniques for full-featured web applications. My favorite is Bootstrap, and the latest version fully
embraces responsive design and the mobile platformthe motto of Bootstrap 3 is mobile first.

Bootstrap allows you to build powerful interfaces that
conform or respond to the user platform. It is a simple concept but, like
anything, it takes time and patience to get acclimated with the framework (nothing
beats diving into the code).

There are plenty of other options available, such as Foundation. The key is to utilize a
framework that conforms to standards and allows you to concentrate on
application design as opposed to the nitty gritty details of concepts like responsive design.

Plenty of options

Other tools you might want to check out are: for quickly creating prototypes, PhoneGap for mobile development, BrowserStack
for testing, and free JavaScript libraries such as Modernizr
and Chart.js.
The key is to find good tools and know how to use them; this allows you to focus
on tackling your new project as opposed to figuring out how to use the tools.

What tools are must-haves for your development projects? Let
us know in the discussion.