Technology is becoming more and more accessible nowadays. If you want to learn a new skill, the internet offers you a wealth of tools to do so and most of those tools are free. Want to change your job? Start in a new field? Learning the required skills will take some time and dedication, but it’s much easier than you think.
Web developers in particular have a wide range of useful online tools to choose from, and in this article we’ll show you the ones that we’ve found to be the most helpful.
Hold a “bank” of useful dev tools in your mind
It can make some of the obstacles you’ll stumble onto easier to solve.
If I would have known about these tools when I was just starting out, my first steps in the programming world would have been significantly easier – Racha
Before digging into those tools, you should first categorize yourself: are you working towards becoming a front-end developer or a back-end developer? If you don’t know the difference between these two yet, check out this topic on Quora to grasp the differences.
1// The JSON Validator (Free)
Once you start working with data, you will definitely need to read or write JSON files. If you don’t know what JSON is, you can learn about it here. The Json Validator is a great online tool that will validate your data, show you where the mistake is so that you can correct it faster and is a reformatter tool for JSON, which menas that it will organize your JSON and you will be able to easily read the data you need.
2// Mockaroo (Free – Backend and Frontend)
When starting out with your application, many times you will want to check how your app handles data. But you won’t have any data because your app isn’t out yet! Enter Mockaroo: a free data generator. It can generate CSV, JSON, SQL and even EXCEL datasets, which makes it one of the best tool for testings or demoing your web application. Remember that testing is a very important step of the development process.
1// BuildBootstrap (free)
An online tool that will help you create responsive pages incredibly quickly by harnessing the technology of Bootstrap (version 3 or 4). It is very easy to use and understand, you will only need a couple of minutes to get going.
2// Maintainable CSS (free)
In order to create the best, most correct and most neatly organized CSS, use this tool. You do not have to download anything, it’s a guide that will explain how to write good CSS and also why you should do that. This way you can understand how CSS features work so that in your next projects you won’t have to rely on written examples, you’ll be able to build the CSS efficiently yourself.
3// Sizzy (Free)
An online tool that will test if your website is responsive or not. You can just paste your website link into Sizzy, and it will show you how it appears on an iPhone, iPad and android devices. Mobile traffic is taking over the internet, and Google is giving mobile-readiness more and more weight in ordering its search results, so you really need to take this detail into consideration and make sure your website works perfectly and is well represented on any mobile device. Sizzy will help you do that faster, as you can check how your website looks on many devices at the same time.
4// Hamburgers (Free)
Like its name implies, Hamburgers is a library of nice and fancy CSS animated hamburger icon menus, arrows and animations like slides or collapses. You can get inspiration from it while developing your site, or download the library and use it for your own icons.
5// Moqups: (Free/Premium)
Before digging into the coding part, many front-end developers draw their website by hand. Moqups will help you make these mock-up designs more professionally. It will help you create resolution-independent SVG mockups, wireframes and beautiful prototypes for your website. It is flexible and adapts to your workflow. The free version has nice features already, but the premium version is a whole lot better.
6// Feather (Open Source)
Sometimes, you’ll need icons to represent a feature or a link to another page. It can be frustrating to find the right icon, and some of the best icons are not free, so we wouldn’t suggest that you just use them without paying. If you don’t want to look for icons too hard (or pay for them), Feather could be an option for you. Feather contains open source icons, so you can use them freely. Those icons are consistent, simply beautiful and varied.
7// Preloaders.net (Free/Premium)
Preloaders are really important if you want your visitors to have a good experience while browsing your website or web application. A preloader is a kind of animated icon or drawing that shows up while users have to wait for something to load on your website: when moving from one page to another, or when loading some heavy information from your database… Preloaders.net contains more than 800 Ajax loaders, spinners and some 3D animation generators for jQuery and AJAX. These are very fancy Preloaders and they would look cool on your website.
8-Protypo.io (Free – Frontend)
If you want to create your own font in just a few clicks and for free – Prototypo is the tool for you: it creates beautiful fonts fast. You can then download your amazing creation to use it on the web or for your desktop.
9// Codepen (Free/Premium)
10// Colorlisa (Free)
If you are not sure which colors work together, and how to decide on a set of colors for your website or app: this tool is for you. Colorlisa gathers a list of inspiring color palettes based on famous works of artists around the globe. By using color combinations from this list you will be more comfortable that you’ve made the right choice, and you will save a huge amount of time because picking the right colors for your website by yourself can be a big time sink.
11// UI Garage (Free)
A gallery for web and mobile designs for your inspiration. You can find various patterns for each category.
12// CSS Stats (Free)
Great websites don’t let their users get bored and frustrated from long loading times. Post your website URL into this service to check whether your website is optimized and fast enough. CSS Stats will analyze your CSS and help you understand if there is unnecessary bloat in it by visualizing various stats about it: the use of CSS selectors, background colors, declarations, properties etc…
13// Snappa (Free/Premium)
Snappa lets you create great graphics online without being an expert in Photoshop or in graphic design. Graphics are necessary for your blog, your ads and your social media. Snappa editor is powerful, easy to use and allows you to save precious time.
This list is far from exhaustive. You can find other useful tools just by typing what you need into Google, or by checking the best products in a category on Product Hunt. And you can find more great rated tools and software on WDstack – which will also give you an idea about how popular a tool is.
As a last tip, here’s a list of all the public APIs that you’ll use as a web developer. It’s a good list to consult every time you need a tool, or maybe even inspiration for your next creation : https://github.com/toddmotto/public-apis