Tools I Use
41 comments | Posted: 8 April 06 in Tutorials, by Tim Bednar
Tools I Use
One of the designers on my team recently asked how I know about so many “tools” for web design. I thought and decided that basically I am lazy. I hope lazy in a good way. My feeling is that the best tools help me work faster, cleaner and better.
I know that everyone has their favorite tools, and equally tools that they despise. Hopefully, you will agree with most of my picks and possibly discover something that will improve your work. So, here are the tools that I use to code, debug and manage projects.
Although I code XHTML and CSS by hand, I hate to admit that I still use Dreamweaver as my primary application. It does a great job color coding tags. Until I learn something else, it is the environment I use to develop web applications in classic ASP using VB Script.
I code CSS in Dreamweaver (I do not have 8), but the real work is done in FireFox using the Web Developers Toolbar extension. It allows my to edit live CSS in FireFox.
To tackle Explorer CSS issues, I still use
I am a FireFox extensions addict. Here are the ones I have found most useful for either debugging my own code or editing legacy code:
- Web Developers Toolbar
- DOM inspector – Windows FireFox users need choose Custom Install and then select Web Developer Tools in order to get the DOM inspector)
- View Formated Source – Organize messy code, allows you to collapse elements and brings all external scripts in-line
- Collorzilla – Eyedropper for your browser
For more information, I recommend reading Rapid Web Development and Testing with Mozilla Firefox.
The side of web design that rarely gets discussed is how to manage a successful project. I can code clean code, but if my client is not happy what have I gained. This is the most important aspect of any project and is especially important to those of us trying to convince churches to create better web sites. Use should use standards, but also run a good business.
I use Gmail. I often e-mail myself reminders, stray pieces of information, phone numbers or small files. They never get lost; I can find them from any computer. I can not imagine working without it.
As my primary project management tool, I use mostly the free version of Backpack, but also have a subscription to Basecamp for large projects. They are valuable tools for keeping records, messages, milestones and files. I can not tell you how many times these web based applications have saved my skin when I am not at my primary computer.
I just started using Box.net to help me remotely store files. I wrote this article using Writely from two different computers and just convinced a client develop all their content with it. The last piece to this puzzle is a new application called Vyew which is a web-based remote meeting tool. I will start work for a client 400 miles away and will use this to train them on my Content Management System. I now use Sunbird as my calendar because it supports iCalendar.
I am self taught. I learn everything by searching Google, using free tutorials or simply hacking code I find. For instance, I plan to learn Ruby on Rails this year through tutorials and resources I find online.
To this, I rely on Google, but also on my RSS Reader. I just switched readers. I used Newsgator Online for two years (view my opml feed), but just started using Rojo. I also listen to of podcasts on the bus. I would recommend the Web 2.0 Show, TalkCrunch and audible Ajax.
I choose these tools because they are open source, web-based and affordable.
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