Our Favorite Free Tools to Get You Started in Web Development
Getting started with WEB development in this day and age can be a daunting task for the uninformed. There are literally thousands of applications, frameworks, suites and packages — each with its own little (or big) twist — to use and there’s no best, all-in-one tool that everyone agrees with. While there are popular picks and recommendations, in the end, it all comes down to personal preference, knowledge, experience and requirements. The rabbit hole is deep and to avoid getting too complicated, we will outline the most common, versatile and useful tools that will help you get started in web development.
Released in April 2016 by Microsoft, this powerful source code editor went straight into competition against most popular choices like Sublime Text, Atom and others. With such features as debugging, Git control, syntax highlighting, code completion, snippets, code refactoring and themes embedded by default, and hundreds of extensions available straight from the editor, the VSC is a complete package for all your code editing needs. The performance is on par with the best ones on the market and over-performs most of its free alternatives.
VSCode is available for Windows, Linux and OSX.
If you’re planning on writing server-side applications using, for example, PHP, we recommend using a local WEB server to build and test your code. Since Windows or OSX don’t have such native applications, we can recommend AMPPS to do the job. It’s a stack of Apache, PHP, MySQL, MongoDB, Python and Perl which will allow you to run your applications using the most popular server-side programming languages (PHP and Python) and databases (MySQL, MongoDB). It also allows to add NPM tools: task runners for watch tasks, build tasks. The setup and control of the server is easier than ever and will get you going in a few clicks.
AMPPS is available for Windows, Linux and OSX.
(P.S. there’s no need to involve these stacks if you’re not planning on using PHP, Python or MySQL. Most front-end packages can run on a NodeJS based serving apps and debug utilities.)
Git is a collection of command line utilities that track and record changes in files (most often source code, but you can track anything you wish). With it you can restore old versions of your project, compare, analyze, merge changes, collaborate with other developers and more. This process is referred to as version control. There are a number of version control systems that do this job, and most of them work in a very similar fashion and most of them offer a free plan as well. Gitlab is one of the most approachable and easier to adapt and has some extra features — snippets, authentication levels, improved milestones. All things considered, you’re not required to use any of these systems straight from the beginning of your developer career, as it might be a bit overwhelming, but learning and using version control systems later on is an advantage.
While some of the tools we recommended are useful, Facebook’s React can completely revolutionize your workflow. With the front-end world changing on a daily basis, it’s hard to devote time to learning a new framework — especially when that framework could ultimately become a dead end. So if you’re looking for the next best thing but you’re feeling a little bit lost in the framework jungle, we suggest checking out React.js. The numerous benefits it gives over others is kind of hard to explain to a newcomer, also it’s pretty difficult to get into — things like JSX are off-putting to many developers and such abstract concepts as FLUX can be mind boggling — but once you come around it, it fits like a glove and everything is right there where you expect it.
There are many free image editing programs, but not one of them has so many features: tools, filters, layers, masks, plugins and more. With the introduction of the Single Window mode Gimp has become much more user-friendly. Nevertheless, beginners have a steep learning curve ahead. While Adobe Suite for sure is nice to have it’s also on of the most expensive applications out there and is overloaded with features. so you’re just looking for some lightweight editing you can start with Gimp.
The application is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems.