10 Essential Front End Web Development Tools. How can you be a successful front-end developer without the right tools?
The answer, my friend, is simple: you can’t. It’s essential to have the right tools in order to do your job effectively and efficiently. Without the right tools, you’ll be spending too much time on the computer trying to work around what you should be able to do in an instant with your favorite app or tool. Here are 10 essential front-end development tools that will help improve your efficiency and make you more effective as a front-end developer in no time!
Front-end development is a hot topic nowadays. More and more companies are seeking front-end developers to join their teams. If you’re one of them, or if you want to learn more about it and get into it, here’s a list of ten essential front-end development tools that every web developer should know. Let’s see what they are! Platforms—used to create interactive websites. Many platforms are focused on the creation of specific types of websites like content management systems (CMS) or eCommerce platforms.
Front-end developers use these tools extensively in creating modern single-page applications (SPA).
It’s also important to note that many CMS and eCommerce platforms come with built-in front-end frameworks as well. Also, many front end frameworks have plugins for some CMS systems already built-in; so depending on your project’s needs and your preferences, you might not need to build an entire custom site from scratch (meaning by hand-coding everything) but could find a framework that does most of it for you already pre-built with your desired functionality.
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A color picker is a tool that enables you to create, copy, paste and save colors with more precision than simply copying and pasting hexadecimal values. A good color picker will allow you to set colors based on a wide range of parameters: HSL (hue, saturation, lightness), RGB values, or via a pop-up color wheel. It’s also helpful if it lets you export colors in their appropriate format (e.g., a hex code) rather than forcing you to switch back and forth between formats as needed. The exact features available can vary by platform; for example, popular desktop tools include Adobe Color CC and Kuler, while most major mobile platforms come bundled with built-in color pickers.
If there isn’t one already included with your software development environment (IDE), there are plenty of free options available online such as ColorZilla, which works perfectly well in any browser.
Rules – Document: To make your front-end development life easier, consider using a style guide of some sort. This can be very loose—like a simple Google Doc where you document your team’s preferred CSS naming conventions—or quite formal like Airbnb’s famously exhaustive guide.
If you’re a web developer, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of IDE (Integrated Development Environment). Whether it be Eclipse, NetBeans, or something else entirely, IDEs are incredibly useful for front-end development. By providing shortcuts and custom commands to speed up your workflow, IDEs are essential tools that allow developers to do more in less time. It’s impossible to name all 10 essential front-end development tools without mentioning what is arguably the most well-known IDE: Adobe Dreamweaver.
But by no means does it have a monopoly on intelligent design automation; Microsoft has Visual Studio Code, IntelliJ , and Sublime Text are both free and extremely popular amongst developers who prefer cross-platform solutions. While it may not fall under fair use, we think any resource which provides an even deeper look into any of these products is an awesome learning tool. So if you happen to know of a relevant resource we didn’t mention here, feel free to leave a comment!
If you really get into coding, another useful tool is Command Line Interface (CLI), which allows you to test out commands without ever touching a keyboard. That might sound cool, but what if I told you there was an extension that had essentially done away with CLI and integrated its functionality directly into DevTools? Well, now there is—it’s called App Manager (previously known as Runtime). With App Manager, you can easily enable debugging features using pre-defined plugins created by Google. So why use CLI when App Manager exists? It’s hard to say.
It depends largely on how comfortable you are dealing with command line prompts, how often you need access to core debugging tools versus how often you need quick fixes, and so forth. But regardless of whether or not we want them around forever, CLI plugins still have their place in modern app dev workflows—particularly those that rely heavily on multi-device testing. Anyway, if nothing else, it may be worth trying them out before abandoning them altogether just to see whether they could fit into your workflow at some point down the road.
The 10 tools below will help you do just that. And once you get started, don’t stop there: This is one of those areas where if you practice regularly, look up new resources often, and really immerse yourself in all things front end, it’ll feel like second nature before long. I guarantee it.
1. Console Just like console logs and error messages are invaluable when debugging back-end code, they’re indispensable when front-ending too. So what are you looking for? Anything from broken links to font issues to syntax problems. If an image isn’t showing up properly, it may very well be a problem with its src attribute or data URL information. If something looks bad but you aren’t sure why to dig through your stylesheets using DevTools’ Computed tab (which shows details about every property) or try refreshing without any styles loaded at all using its Disable Styles button (top right under Sources).
3. Elements When an element on your site doesn’t look quite right, Elements lets you hover over it to find out exactly what properties apply and whether they’re correct. In some cases—like if margins are off or color settings have been botched—you might fix things simply by clicking Reset next to Properties; otherwise, click Edit beside each property name to change them manually.
4. Responsive Design Mode As you probably know, having separate mobile-optimized and desktop-optimized versions of your website is becoming increasingly necessary to avoid getting penalized in search rankings. Unfortunately, switching between them can be a huge pain. Responsive Design Mode (Window → Developer Tools → Responsive Design Mode) aims to change that by giving you access to both views simultaneously with a single click—no more logging in and out or manually changing your viewport size. As it notes on its dialog box, RDM works best for sites whose views differ mainly in layout, meaning that functionality remains largely unchanged.
5. Style Editor A super handy—not to mention convenient—tool for fixing minor CSS problems, Style Editor lets you quickly change a property’s value with only a couple of clicks. For example, if you right-click on your h1 text and choose Change Font Size → 16px (20%), it’ll change all of your h1s to 20 percent larger than they were original.
6. Key Shortcuts Pressed for time and can’t use mouse or trackpad effectively? Use keyboard shortcuts instead! They’re a quick way to toggle breakpoints in DevTools (Cmd+Opt+P), resize your browser window (Cmd+opt+=), or activate Responsive Design Mode (Ctrl++).
7. Device Mode is an especially good option for front-end beginners because it lets you preview your page in different browsers, including popular ones like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera. Select View → Device Toolbar to make them appear; check or uncheck boxes to include or exclude specific browsers; then click on a device to see what your design looks like in that browser—click again to return to normal mode.
8. User Agent Editor Let’s say you’re building a responsive, multi-device website and would like to display a custom message when visitors are viewing it on, say, an iPhone. Normally, you’d need to manually change your CSS for that device class—but what if there are hundreds or thousands of them? User Agent Editor can help. (In fact, it’s even possible to create your own user agents by following a set of rules.)
9. Time Travel This feature is not just for entertainment; it’s also a great tool for web developers. If you don’t see what you’re expecting to see on your page—maybe there’s a bug with some functionality or a style you haven’t added yet—you can jump ahead in time (i.e., reload) to when you expect your changes to take effect and wait a few seconds until they do, which is much faster than waiting minutes or hours, depending on how big your page is.
10. Network Monitor displays all of your website’s assets (scripts, stylesheets, image files, videos) in a list that you can sort by status code, total file size, or request time. This is an essential tool for figuring out which elements are slowing down your page and how much you’re loading overall.
WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal have a number of free and premium plugins available on their websites. And while it’s easy to find lists of these plugins online, they aren’t always in an easily accessible place. A better option is to use a plugin manager such as Bower. With Bower installed on your computer, you can simply type bower install bootstrap into your command line prompt to download Bootstrap and all its dependencies at once. If you change your mind, just delete bootstrap from bower_components or remove it and run bower install again to update.
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You don’t even need to download or open up any files; Bower just handles it all behind the scenes automatically! Do note that some developers might not want their tools included with something like Bower because then anyone with access could include them without permission (an easy fix would be requiring authorization through GitHub or email). To address these concerns, consider checking out tool packages such as Bootstrap. io, which was created by Twitter specifically for sharing front-end development resources.
From there, developers interested in using a resource can go directly to its source instead of downloading components right off GitHub —and since Twitter controls access, developers are ensured only authorized users can make changes.
The most fundamental web development tool you can use to make your life easier is source control software. Source control software manages versions of your code and makes it easy to revert back to older revisions of your project or push updates out to multiple machines quickly. Git is a popular version control software that’s used by hundreds of thousands of developers around the world; there are many other options too. No matter which you choose, using source control early and often will make everything else in your workflow much simpler.
It doesn’t matter how fast a programmer you are if you’re unable to reproduce bugs or try out new features on an older version of your website—source control is so important that many people consider it as vital as having an editor. If you don’t have any experience with it, here’s what I recommend: give GitHub (I personally prefer BitBucket) a try. If you work alone, GitHub has plenty of free plans to get started with basic features. As long as one person on your team has an account, everyone else can have free private repositories too. For big teams that are looking for enterprise solutions, give Bitbucket Server a look; they’ll even run their service inside Amazon EC2 instances at no extra cost!
Nowadays, front-end developers use preprocessors for their projects to speed up their workflow and write cleaner code faster. Some popular ones include Sass, Less, and Stylus/Compass depending on which language you’re familiar with. Code Editors: As a front-end developer, your primary weapon will be coding editors.
There are literally hundreds of options available here though so do whatever feels best based on what you need now! For instance, jQuery developers might prefer The jQuery Compressors: CssJoin & UglifyJS2 due to them having automatic support and not requiring any additional plugins, etc… Or, if you’re looking for something simple and flexible then JSmn may be perfect for you. Again, it really depends on your specific project(s) so do some research first before committing to anything one way or another.
Of course, if there’s a reason why something should be prioritized over other choices (such as cross-browser compatibility), then don’t feel obligated to follow my recommendation; I’m just trying to give everyone information that might lead them to find something useful quickly! Also worth mentioning is how useful web applications like Grunt and Yeoman can be when it comes to setting up tasks.
BrowserStack — BrowserStack is a cloud platform that allows you to test websites and web applications across multiple browsers and operating systems, without installing software on your machine. It also allows you to test your sites on different devices. The 10-minute guide above will walk you through using BrowserStack as a performance testing tool. While there are more powerful tools out there, if all you need is cross-browser compatibility checks—this might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Whether it’s quick accessibility testing or browser sniffing – BrowserStack can help. Those of us who come from a visual design background tend to make certain assumptions about how something should look in certain browsers before we’ve even coded anything up. You’d be surprised by how often those assumptions are incorrect (hint: they’re almost always incorrect).
A side benefit of running your code through ESLint is that it spits out nicely formatted messages describing what each rule means and how to correct problems related to that rule. If you spend any time doing front-end development or working alongside front-end developers, knowing how to use ESLint will become essential very quickly!
In order to quickly assess how your web pages will look in various browsers, browser emulation tools are an essential front-end development tool. A few popular free browser emulation tools include BrowserStack, CrossBrowserTesting, and ChromeInspector. While most people use these browser emulation tools only occasionally when they need to see how a page looks in a specific browser version, you can also use them to make sure everything is optimized based on your site’s audience. For example, if you know your target market uses Google Chrome as their primary web browser, then using a tool like CrossBrowserTesting (which emulates Chrome) will help you uncover any errors that might not appear when testing with another emulator or manually inspecting sites on Google Chrome.
Or perhaps you know many of your users access websites from mobile devices. In that case, using a tool like BrowserStack (which simulates mobile devices), could help reveal problems with font sizes, layout alignment, and image scaling within certain breakpoints. Regardless of whether you use it all of the time or just occasionally before pushing out new features/content changes, browser emulation tools are one of those front-end development tools every web developer should have at their disposal.
There are many more useful front-end development tools, but knowing about these 10 essentials will set you up well in your next job interview! More importantly, it may even mean that eventually, you won’t have to go through interviews anymore because you’ll be too good at doing interviews yourself…and everyone knows that’s when getting hired becomes easy! We hope we were able to shed some light on ten key front-end development tools! And don’t forget–each of our tips was delivered straight from someone who hires software developers day in and day out. We want nothing more than to continue connecting talented software developers with awesome companies looking for great talent!
In today’s era of web development, there are dozens of tools that could come in handy. If you’re looking to become a web developer, it is important to know what tools are available and where they fit into your workflow. These 10 essential front-end development tools will help you with tasks ranging from visual design and debugging to website performance analysis and optimization. No matter your experience level or skill set, these ten tools should be on every web developer’s toolkit. While one size definitely doesn’t fit all when it comes to software, learning how to use one (or more) of these tools can make developing websites far easier.
For those who wish to become professional front-end developers (or just want a job as such), knowing about each and every one of these tools could really come in handy—at least eventually. At first, though, new developers shouldn’t even attempt mastering all ten at once; rather, focus on acquiring basic skills first and then work your way through each one overtime as needed. After all, no single tool will solve every problem that arises during development.
Just remember: two heads are better than one! And while collaboration is certainly an option when things get tough, using great code repositories like Bitbucket and GitHub along with project management platforms like Trello can save you tons of trouble down the road. So go ahead—take some time to familiarize yourself with these front-end web development tools and prepare yourself for future success!