It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything overly technical here, but it strikes me that a “snapshot” of what I do (for work) and how I do it (the tech) might be useful to some.
What I do is web development for Smart Solutions here in Bend. Smart Solutions is a web and software development company and the company essentially has three main divisions: custom software development, SEO (search engine optimization—I know, that’s another post), and web development. All these “divisions” work pretty closely with each other—there’s a lot of line-blurring, actually—but for the most part developing websites for clients is what I do.
I’m also the company’s defacto WordPress developer—yes, we host WordPress blogs in addition to Pixelsilk sites—and a few other PHP applications so I still get a chance to flex my PHP muscles every now and again. (Smart Solutions is otherwise a Microsoft and .NET shop.)
Of course, I use a number of additional tools to develop for the web, and that’s what this post is really about.
What I use is a mishmash of online and offline tools. In the “offline” category I make use of:
- The GIMP, open-source graphics software. Free to download, and fairly powerful, there’s still a lot I’m learning about it, but I do most of the graphics work I need to accomplish with it. (Photoshop is the standard for the company, but I’m not versed in it.)
- PHP Designer. I actually use the (older) free version because, well, it’s free and does what I need, it’s fairly lightweight, and it has the same kind of keyboard mappings and editing environment as Visual Studio.
- Notepad. Yes, a stripped-down plain text editor. You’d be amazed at how much I have this open.
- FileZilla. Yes, sometimes you still need an FTP client, and FileZilla is a good free Windows client.
- PuTTY. A great free SSH client, because I spend a non-insignificant amount of time on a *nix command line.
- Apache/PHP/MySQL: Installed on my Windows boxen as test environments. Pretty critical especially when developing WordPress themes.
- Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox as my primary browsers. I actually use Chrome as my primary while at work and Firefox while at home; these are both highly standards-compliant web browsers and I know if I can get something to work properly in them, then that is in fact how it should work. Chrome has some great built-in development and inspection tools; in Firefox I employ a number of extensions.
- Web Developer (Firefox plugin): A variety of pretty essential additions in toolbar format for all aspects of web development.
- Page Speed (Firebug add-on): A fantastic add-on to Firebug that analyzes the overall page performance (using Google’s recommended benchmarks/tests) and gives you hints on what you can improve.
- Header Spy (Firefox plugin): Shows HTTP headers on the status bar, useful for troubleshooting server information.
- AFOM (Firefox plugin): Incredibly useful plugin for the Windows version of Firefox which fixes the memory leak prone to Windows Firefox.
- Internet Explorer: Of course, you can’t develop for the web without checking your work in IE, and IE8 has a decent set of developer tools built-in—including the ability to switch between IE7, IE8, and Quirks modes.
- W3C Validator: Because you want to make sure your site code validates and works properly, right?
There is of course other tools I use that fall primarily under the heading of “my own sites” and are not necessarily web development per se: Google Analytics and Google AdSense are two examples. That’s probably another post.
This list is likely incomplete—I may have missed an item or two or three, and if I think of any I’ll update it. But this gives an idea of the various tools I’m employing currently and to a large extent what I’d consider the minimum number any good web developer should be using these days.