Tools of trade in web development

Like any other developer in the years I’ve done web development (not many, but enough to experiment with a variety of application) I, as well, have come to form an ecosystem for my web development work. So if you are looking alternatives for the tools you currently use or you are in the mood of experimenting with others, than maybe my suggestion would be to interest to you.

Text editor

A tool that may seem so unimportant at first, but which with time you may come to defend with evangelical beliefs; and I mean it.

While I know both web developers who strive for full featured editors[1] and others which love minimalistic ones[2], I have settled for something between those two, mainly Komodo Edit. Even though at times it may get a bit clunky, in the long term it does perform well. This, considering it is based on the same technology that Firefox, Thunderbird and many other applications use, namely XULRunner.

As a code editor it comes with all the common features you would expect from it: syntax highlight, code completion[3], calltips, code folding, project management facilities (definitely needs improvements) and more.


If the text editor isn’t bound to evangelical disputes, the browser definitely is. While any browser offers some type of feature (either by default or via addons) for frontend development, none can beat Firebug on its native browser with it’s multitude of addons even farther extending it.

Database client

This is one of the reasons why I consider myself lucky to develop applications on top of a MySQL database. As with the text editors I had to go through a lot of them until I finally have found a client that does not confront me when querying/administrating databases. This may come as a surprise but I use Navicat lite, a trimmed down version of Navicat run on Linux under wine emulation.

It’s seems almost nobody can understands why I like it, given that it has even far less features than phpMyAdmin and other free open-source applications. Working with it has a distinctive feeling, given the fact that I like doing a lot of stuff manually… you know, exporting in CSV format the records of a table and the likes. Of course it has some nifty tricks in it, but mostly it’s an improved version of the command line MySQL client.

Version control system

Now this is a topic where there exist so many varieties to choose from, but I would like to talk with the one I use the most, namely SVN. At times when I used to do development under Windows my SVN client was the one and only TortoiseSVN, but given the fact than in the last period I’ve been doing development almost entirely under Linux, I had to find an alternative for it. Unfortunately (as you may find by googling) the alternatives aren’t so pleasing as one would think, and the only one that made it on my machine was RabbitVCS a promising implementation of Tortoises concept, but much slower. So the only good alternative on Linux for Tortoise is the default command line client…

… at least till the developers of RabbitVCS fix these performance issues.


Obviously music ain’t a tool, but Tool is music. Some people may not be more productive when listening to music, like it happens for me, so for those I may recommend simply noise as a way of isolating real world noise.

So these are the tools I use on a daily basis, but I’m curious as well of what tools you may be using for your daily development.

  1. Actually the one I linked is an IDE, but for web development that does not make much of a difference.
  2. As in interface, not in configurability and extensibility
  3. CSS, HTML, JavaScript, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, Tcl, XML and XSLT by default, and the possibility for more via add-ons

3 Responses to “Tools of trade in web development”

  • From your article I’m guessing you prefer a bunch of lighter tools to a full-blown IDE, but Eclipse has pretty good tools for many platforms — I haven’t used its PHP dev tools, though. But Subclipse gives it pretty darn good SVN intergration. In fact, I use it for developing RabbitVCS… at least, when I’ve broken all the dialogs.

  • The SVN integration in Eclipse looks really sweet, but I prefer independent applications for each tasks. Although now I might recommend Subclipse to people I know that work with the command line client and use Eclipse.

  • The real boon is the merge GUI. I *really* want to implement something like that for ourselves. It’s probably more likely to happen if I ban myself from using Subclipse for a week.

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