Chris Wiegman Chris Wiegman

10 Applications for All Web Developers

There us plenty of software out there for those who develop for the web and every developer has their favorites. For the last almost 15 years I’ve used everything from Adobe’s Photoshop and Dreamweaver to notepad and nearly everything in between. Through my experiences I have formed a couple of necessary criterion with which to pick my tools as a developer. First, they must work on all the major platforms, Win, Mac, and Linux. Second, they must have good community support (I don’t like calling a phone center so forums and similar support methods are a must). Finally, I must be able to get my tools running quickly in an unfamiliar environment,( i.e. when I’m on a computer other than my own) as I tend to do a lot of consulting on the use of the tools themselves.

1.) Aptana Studio

Aptana Studio is an excellent developer environment for coding in nearly all the popular languages found around the web today. With a growing user base and a foundation in the solid Eclipse platform it will give any web developer the tools he or she needs to produce powerful, complex code for their projects. I have personally replaced Dreamweaver CS4 with Aptana and couldn’t be happier

2.) Firefox

The Firefox web browser might not be the fastest currently on the market, but with an abundance of addons and solid support on nearly every operating system in existence it is hard to overlook as an excellent choice for your primary browser.

3.) Filezilla

If you do much work on a website you’re probably gonna need an utility to transfer files between your computer and your web server. Filezilla can do that with ease with support for FTP, SSH, and more.


There are a lot of ways to display your site on your local computer, but XAMPP is the only one I’ve found that will run on all the major platforms. It is easy to install and administer and comes with all the necessary features to turn your local machine into a top-notch test server (I’ve even seen it run on a few production web servers although I wouldn’t recommend the practice myself)

5.) The Gimp

Photoshop might be the most popular image manipulation program on the market, but it isn’t the only one that can handle image manipulation for the web. The Gimp is an excellent, if somewhat complicated, image editing package which can work all sorts of magic on any photo you want to put online. For vector graphics it can be used in conjunction with Inkscape to provide a solid package for creating and editing everything from logos to pictures from your last company picnic.

6.) SmartSVN

SmartSVN is a Subversion client which allows you to interact with a Subversion repository. Subversion, in turn, is a version control system allowing you to not only keep a repository of all the data in your project, but it can also keep track of changes, rollback changes, and perform all sorts of other tasks of use to a web developer. It can even be a solid alternative for deploying your work to your production server without the use of FTP or another file transfer method in which it can be easy to forget a file. There is even an excellent free SVN host available at XP-dev

7.) VirtualBox

Virtualbox is a free virtual machine from SUN. It allows you to run other operating systems on top of your main system which can then be used for testing your project on other browsers and configurations. For example, if you have a Mac you could run Windows within VirtualBox on your mac and use it to see how your project looks in Internet Explorer or other browsers not available on your Mac.

8.) Xmarks

Originally known as Foxmarks, Xmarks is a service which can backup and sync the bookmarks and passwords from your browser. This is a must if you use multiple machines yourself or even if you just want to pull up a page on a machine other than your own as you can even access your bookmarks from their online interface. Currently it works with Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer on all the major operating systems

9.) DropBox

DropBox is a cross-platform file backup and synchronization service that not only backs up your most important data, but also seamlessly synchronizes it on your other computers. Of all the applications I use on a daily basis this one is definitely the handiest as I never have to worry about forgetting anything important. Like Xmarks it even has a web interface in case your at a different computer and need access to one of your documents.

10.) Google Apps

Although not a local application like the rest of this list, Google Apps is an excellent resource for helping you set up your personal web identity as well as those of your clients. It allows for hosted email, calendar, and other services on your own domain name and does so while providing users with the often familiar GMail interface that so many people already know.

So what are your favorites?