Tools of the trade: Software

Published on July 12th, 2008 by admin

There's a plethora of software out there all begging for your attention. Learn what I like to use and how it can help you.


Below I’ve listed what I consider to be the most essential software that every web developer (or designer) should own. This is an open discussion though so please feel free to submit your own suggestions below.

Pure Text Editor

Every web developer MUST own a pure text editor, there’s no choice. Personally, I prefer Eclipse, it’s a free, open-source, pure text editor that is powerful but not bloated. It’s based on the Java platform which I was reluctant to install, but I tried it anyway and I’m happy I did!

Notice that I didn’t mention Dreamweaver? The reason for this is that I simply don’t use it. You don’t have to own those expensive programs to do good work. Most of the people I know who do coding don’t use those programs either. Just something to keep in mind.

Eclipse comes in multiple flavors.

Get the PHP Version

Image Manipulation Software

This is a no-brainer, if you’re doing web design or development and you don’t have a copy of Photoshop or any other equivalent program you have to get one. I love Photoshop but that can get pretty expensive, new versions are around $700.

If you can’t afford Photoshop there are also free alternatives, most notably Gimp. It’s a free open source application that has a lot of the same capabilities.


Another program by Adobe. I use this when I send my client invoices and proposals. Nothing communicates professionalism better than a fresh PDF document in your email. It also protects your documents so that clients (or anyone else) can’t modify the contents of an invoice or proposal.

If you can’t afford it there are other applications that will write to PDFs but I’ve found owning the program just makes it much easier.

Web Server

I like to have a web server installed on my computer so that I don’t have to upload my files to a remote server. I use a program called WAMP. It stands for “Windows, Apache MySQL and PHP” and it makes it sinfully easy to install an Apache server with PHP and MySQL onto my computer.

This speeds up my production by more than 50% and on top of that, if internet is out I can still work on my PHP scripts because I have the server right there. Don’t wait, get this program now!

note: there is also a mac version.

FTP Client

Every web developer needs an FTP client. If you’re looking for a free version I highly recommend FileZilla however if you’re willing to spend a little bit of money then I would suggest you try CuteFTP, It’s got an easy interface and makes it a breeze to manage your files.

Web Browser

You should have an array of browsers at your disposal.

You should have an array of browsers at your disposal.

What browser should I use while doing web development?” I get this question a lot and I always say the same thing. . . “It’s up to you.”

Personally, I work in FireFox and then debug it in all standards compliant browsers. When that works then I debug it in non-standards compliant browsers, especially Internet Explorer 7.0 and Internet Explorer 6.0.

Every developer should have at least the following browsers installed.

  • Firefox
  • Opera
  • Safari
  • Chrome
  • Internet Explorer 8
  • Internet Explorer 6 (installed on a separate machine)

Regex Buddy

Regex Buddy is a little known program but it is a gem. If any of you have worked with Regular Expressions then you know how much a pain in the butt they can be. This program actually makes developing Regular Expressions fun. It has a debugger, and an analyzing agent that breaks down the expression into its individual parts. It’s a must have if you’re trying to parse text.

Communication Software

We’ve got to be able to communicate with clients in real time! E-Mails work great but after 100+ e-mails it can turn into a nightmare to keep them all straight. I highly recommend Skype, it’s an online client that let’s you talk over the “telephone” through the internet. The benefits of this are substantial, for example, I have a client in New Zealand and talking over the phone would simply be too expensive. This is a welcome solution.

You can also use An instant messenger program if you don’t have a microphone or don’t like skype. There are the famous ones, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), MSN Messenger etc but I love Trillian, it lets me have all my accounts in one tidy little program and saves all my sessions in a history so that I can refer back to it when I need.

Zip/Un-Zip Software

You’re going to need to be able to distribute your files quickly and cleanly to clients therefore a WinZip or WinRAR application will be crucial. I like to use WinRAR because I find it easier but either one will work.

Financial Management Software

You’ve got to manage your money some how! It’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve made after you start collecting paychecks and handing out invoices. I prefer Quicken because I’m not a big fan of Microsoft but Microsoft Money is a good program as well, in this case it comes down to personal preference.


I hope this was informative and helpful. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to post it below or contact me directly.

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Tools of the trade: Hardware

Leave a Reply


  • Post by Niv on August 27, 2008

    Love every bit of your site.. great work

  • Post by Derek on December 7, 2010

    Hey, I love your posts! Keep them coming! One addition I would make to this is in the Pure Text Editor. I am a big fan of Notepad++.

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