5 Essential Tools Every Web Developer Should Have

By: Jon Bowen  | 04/18/2018

The rise of mobile apps has forced changes to the web (for the better). Gone are the days of reloading entire web pages every time a user clicks a button. Users demand better experiences and expect websites to function more like apps. With the number of web developer tools growing daily, it can be difficult to not only find quality tools, but also find ones that will be around in 12 months. To help, we have put together a list of the five best web developer tools to get you going in the right direction.


1. TypeScript

JavaScript has won the day. Almost every type of application can be written in JavaScript, including web, mobile, and even desktop. While JavaScript is definitely a powerful language, it has always been difficult to write and maintain enterprise size applications. TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript and helps with JavaScript's shortcomings by providing features like static type checking. It uses the latest ECMAScript standards compliant syntax and translates to plain JavaScript that all browsers can understand, giving you the ability to use the latest features of JavaScript without waiting for browsers to catch up.


2. Angular

HTML was never designed to handle dynamic views. Angular addresses this shortcoming by allowing you to extend your application’s HTML syntax with reusable components. Angular is developed by Google and has a very strong and active community. It can speed up your development time and let you focus on building cool applications instead of overcoming the limitations of HTML.


3. Sass

Sass is “CSS with superpowers”. While CSS is a powerful and convenient way to style elements across your site, it has limitations that make long-term maintainability difficult. You end up copying the same fonts, colors, etc. to many different selectors. Sass fixes this by providing features such as variables, functions, and mixins. All of this gets compiled to plain CSS, which can be automated with Gulp.


4. Gulp

Gulp is a task runner designed to automate common tasks. Before task runners, you had to manually complete each redundant task. With just a few lines of code, Gulp can automate compiling Sass into CSS, bundling/minifying JavaScript files, and optimizing images, just to name a few.


5. Bootstrap with Font Awesome

Websites have to display well across a variety of screen sizes now. Bootstrap makes implementing responsive websites a breeze. It is cross browser compatible and has tons of themes from its vast community to get you started. Combine Boostrap with Font Awesome to get SVG icons that can be styled with CSS.


Bonus Tool

The Chrome Debug Tools are an absolute necessity for debugging and troubleshooting your web applications. You can set breakpoints to debug your TypeScript/JavaScript code, view network requests and responses, take memory snapshots and troubleshoot performance issues. You can even modify html and CSS directly in the tools and see the changes in real-time without having to change source code and refresh the page.


On the Horizon

Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are starting to pop up more, along with better developer tools to build them. In short, PWAs are web applications with additional features to give them an app-like feel. Users can install them to their devices similar to a native app. To get started, your web app needs a Manifest and Service Worker.



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