Any seasoned web developer will tell you that in order to be the best developer possible you have to constantly work in efficiency. You have to be efficient with the amount of code you write, efficient with setting client expectations and most importantly efficient with your time.
So, How do you become an efficient web developer? Well, it’s all about the tools that you will use daily. Similar to how handy men rely on the tools in their toolkit, developers rely on the tools in their computer to maximize efficiency. In this article, we will provide you with some of the tools that professional developers use daily. While this is not a comprehensive list of tools, it is a great starting point for those new to web development. The tools (software) that we will be discussing are must haves for all professional web developers.
If your seriously considering a career in web development, then we highly recommend that you prepare yourself and begin to get familiar with as many if not all of the following:
- Hosting: In order for you to see how your work will look over the internet you need to have access to a server. Once you have a server you will be able to practice, practice and then practice some more. Now, as a beginner, we recommend going with a “LAMP” setup. LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP. We recommend starting with a Linux setup over a Microsoft setup because of the large abundance of open source (free of cost!) applications available to LAMP servers. Some of the common applications for linux include: WordPress, Magento, Drupal and many applications that you will use throughout your career.While there are endless hosting providers available, we recommend the Godaddy Linux Deluxe hosting plan. For about $50 a year you will be able to get your own hosting account. As a beginner this is all you need. We recommend Godaddy because of the amazing support staff that will be available to help you with any and all hosting related issues.
- FTP Client: Now that you have a hosting account, you need to be able to access the files in said hosting account. This is where the FTP client comes in. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and there are many FTP clients available to you. The most common FTP client is FileZilla. FileZilla is free and there are endless tutorials available over the internet that will help you learn how to use this tool. Some other popular FTP clients include Cyberduck (Mac users) and Transmit.
- HTML Editor: This is the most important tool in your toolkit. Out of all the tools discussed in this article, the HTML editor will be the one you use the most. There are many different ways that HTML editors can help you be efficient. Some provide font color options for maintaining code integrity; others provide smart autocomplete features that help you with html tags.Start with Sublime Text, Notepadd++, or Atom, these html editors are very powerful and most importantly some offer free versions. For Mac users we recommend starting with Textastic.Once you get comfortable work with a simple html text editor you can graduate to Integrated Development Environment tools or IDE for short. An IDE includes simple html editor functionalities and take it a step further by incorporating advanced features like automation and version control. We recommend PHPStorm because they offer a free version for students.Remember to constantly test different editors and see which one works best for you. As time goes by, new technologies and upgrades will happen so make sure to stay up to date and always look for the one that will make you more efficient.
- Adobe Photoshop:Chances are that you have heard of this tool. Adobe Photoshop is a very powerful image editing software and in the web industry Photoshop is the most common tool. In order to be a great coder, you will need to learn basic functionality like slicing and resizing images. Adobe Photoshop is now available over the cloud. It can be purchased for a low monthly fee and if you’re a student that fee is even lower. There is no substitute for this tool. So, there is no way around it, you need to invest in Photoshop and you need to get familiar with it. It will make you more efficient the more experience you have with Photoshop, the better your pay will be.
- Knowledge: The best tool to have in your toolkit is knowledge. Practice leads to experience and experience leads to knowledge. 2 brains are better than one and this is especially true in the web development industry. As you begin your web development career be conscious of the brainpower available to you. There are many programs that help guide you in acquiring the knowledge required to become complete or Full Stack Web Developers.
At first, you will find that your go to people will be your professors and fellow students. As you begin to work in the field, you will have the opportunity to grow your list of contacts. Fellow web development colleagues will be a resource to you. So, pay special focus to growing your phone book and your Linked In contacts. Because sooner than later, you will get stuck in a coding project and you need to be able to turn to other industry professionals. In addition to the people that you meet throughout your career path, we suggest you join local coder groups, join a meet-up group and try your best to expand your industry contact.s Not only will your contacts be helpful with code, someday your contacts might lead to work.
Well, now that you know what tools you will be using everyday it’s on you to get familiar with how these tools work, their interface and their capabilities. Practice makes perfect and this is especially true in the web development industry. So, don’t wait, go out there start putting your toolkit together and get ready for a very rewarding career. And remember, efficiency separates the best coders from the rest of the pack.