These are my recommended tools, services, and resources for web developers.
My Recommended Web Hosting
Through my clients, I have experience with tons of web hosting services. Some are great, while many are awful.
I use SiteGround for all of my personal blogs, as well client sites with moderate traffic. Their servers are fast, and their reliability is superb. And they offer free SSL certs which are relatively easy to set up.
For higher-end WordPress hosting, I recommend WP Engine. My favorite feature is the one-click staging site creation. It copies your live site to a staging URL where you can mess with it, then push it live when you’re done.
I use the free Uptime Robot service for unlimited 24/7 site monitoring. Receive an email when your site is down!
Local Web Development
For developing sites on my computers locally, I used to use ServerPress, but I switched to MAMP (Mac and Windows). It’s free, and really easy to set up sites on.
Time Tracking and Invoicing Software
As a freelance contractor, it’s important to track time accurately, and to be able to easily generate invoices. Harvest is a great, easy-to-use solution that I use every day and has saved me tons of time. It automatically generates PDF invoices, and offers my clients the ability to pay using PayPal. Get a $10 credit if you use the link below:
I use Evernote every day for logging my daily activities, keeping track of my clients, jotting down blog ideas, and for personal notes. It works on all of my devices and saves me tons of time!
Desktop Email Client
I guess I’m a little old school – I still use a desktop email client. When Windows Live Mail went away, I switched to eM Client. It’s compatible with all of the major email services including Gmail, Microsoft Live Mail, and most standard providers. It has the right balance of features and simplicity for me. Read my full review here, or click the link below to go to their site.
For the vast majority of my simple photo editing needs, I use Paint.NET, a free desktop Windows application. It’s great for general image re-sizing, adjusting brightness and contrast, and doing quick markups. It’s easy to use and just works.
Bulk Image Editing
Free Photoshop Alternatives
If you’re really into creating drawings without Photoshop, check out Krita, which is also able to open some Photoshop files.
A free online alternative to Photoshop is Photopea. It’s awesome because it can open Photoshop files in most cases, saving you from having to subscribe to Adobe just to open a ps file.
On my iPad Pro, I use Adobe Comp CC for sketching and drawing along with the Apple Pencil. It’s a free download! You can make some pretty cool watercolor and oil paintings with it.
Creating Color Palettes That Look Good
If you’re like me, and not a graphic designer, picking colors that look good together can be difficult. But, Adobe Color CC is a free site that helps you pick colors that go well together.
If you’re a blogger or if you generate almost any kind of web content, you need images. Here are some sources of free images:
- Free Hi-Res Images for Your Website – great list of sources of free images.
- NASA Images – The U.S. government is a great source of royalty-free images!
- Problogger Where to Find Free Images Online – another great list.
- PlaceBear.com and PlaceKitten.com – free images of kittens or bears with the dimensions you specify!
Git for Dummies
I use version control for many of my sites. In general like the command line, but haven’t fully gotten the hang of the Git command line workflow. So, I use SourceTree, a free Mac and Windows app that handles all of my code check-ins and other operations using a GUI. I use it with both Bitbucket and Github.
Checking Browser Compliance
If you’re coding for the web, caniuse.com is invaluable! It tells you which features work on which browsers and what versions. Especially useful if you have to be compatible with older IE browsers (if you’re working on such a project, my condolences).
Clearing Your Facebook Featured Image
Facebook caches the featured images of websites that you post. That’s great, but it’s a problem if you ever want to change the image that Facebook shows of your site in its feed. To refresh the image cache, use the Facebook Sharing Debugger.
Checking DNS Propagation
If you’ve changed the DNS of a site and are wondering if it’s fully propagated, WhatsMyDNS.net is an awesome tool.
These are some helpful online CSS tools and resources.
- CSS3Gen – Cool tools to generate CSS buttons, shadows, rounded corners.
- CSS-Tricks – Pretty self explanatory. Cool stuff here!
- Ultimate Gradient Generator – Great tool for generating CSS3 gradients.
- FlexSlider – (now owned by Woo Themes) is the best jQuery slider plugin. It is responsive and works on mobile.
- TimeAgo – You know how when you update your status on a social networking site, it says how long ago you did it in real time? For example, “two minutes ago”, “three days ago”, or whatever. This neat plugin transforms a time in ISO 8601 format to “time ago” format. Use the “.toISOString()” method to convert date and time to ISO 8601.
- TouchWipe – Need to detect a swipe on a mobile device? This is your solution. Works on iOS and Android. Remember to set the preventDefaultEvents parameter to false if you want to be able to pinch, zoom, and scroll in the swipe area.
- Reveal – Easy-to-use code to implement a popup box on your website.
- Waypoints – Trigger events as the user scrolls down the page. Events trigger by default when the element hits the top of the browser window, but you can set a percentage amount to trigger at different points in the browser!
- PHP Mobile Detect – Yes, I do responsive design, but sometimes you have to know what kind of device you’re on for various reasons. This is the PHP plugin I use when I have server-side code that needs to know if it’s going on a mobile device.
Share Your Tools!
What are your favorite web developer tools? Please leave a comment below! – Brian