My top 5 web development tools

As a small web design outfit in Kitchener I have to be particular about my development workflow and the tools I use. I can’t afford to continually invest in new wonder apps that do a bit of this and a bit of that, and do this thing well but not that thing, but this other app does that thing but not… well, you get the point. So I have to really focus on what makes me money and will continue to make me money going forward. So I have compiled a list of apps that make web design and development on the Mac possible for me.

  1. TextMate

    There is text editors and then there is TextMate. Renowned for it’s unparalleled abilities to handle a seemingly limitless set of languages, TextMate makes writing ANY code fast and painless. I use TextMate for every bit of text editing that I do, XHTML, CSS, XML, PHP, SQL and javascript, just to name a few. It’s not free but you will agree that there is no other text editor that comes close to TextMate.

  2. MAMP

    If you are already a pro web designer you are already aware of the need for a live server environment to test out whatever systems you happen to be developing at the time. You also no that uploading to a remote location is time consuming and working SFTP, SSH or WEBDAV can be unstable. You best bet is to have a local server, but if that is not within your means (or know-how) then you need to look at MAMP. MAMP is a nicely bundled package of MySQL, Apache and PHP that allows you to run a web server safely on your own computer. Though Apache and PHP are already included on you Mac, they tend not be as current as those found in MAMP. MAMP also allows you to quickly change your servers from one project to another to keep your perceived root URL common across all your local web work. The best part is, the only version of MAMP you really need to get this done is free.

  3. Safari

    Don’t hate for this. I don’t mind FireFox and I think FireBug is great but to be honest I never use either one on a regular basis. Safari, on the other hand, in an indispensable tool for me. By enabling the developer features of Safari I am able to peer into the DOM for those tricky to view javascript behaviors and see what is really happening on the client side. Safari, of course, is include with your Mac operating system.

  4. PhotoShop

    What is web design without the design? There are a ton of free options out there, but lets be honest, there is no substitute for the real thing when it comes to mocking up proposed web layouts. I agree PhotoShop is outrageously priced but in the grand scheme of things, if you are getting paid for your work then the cost of this app is nothing more than a tax write-off at the end of the year.

  5. Parallels

    You can dispute me on this choice because I honestly have no experience with anything else. The work involved in getting 3 valid VM’s working for the purpose of testing 3 related and equally crappy browsers, IE6, IE7 and IE8, leaves me with no interesting in going through anything remotely similar in the near future. But my point is this, you need to have a way of testing Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, version 6, 7 and 8 and whether you do this via Parallels or VMware is of little consequence to me. It needs to get done all the same. The cost of each is comparable to the other.

If the above list is all you ever invest in for your web design and development career then you are in excellent shape.