Blog Oklahoma Podcast 012: Web Dev Tools

I'm a believer in the KISS principle when it comes to programming, data design, and web development. I like to rock-n-roll all night and party every day. Uh. Wait, no. I mean Keep It Simple… Stupid. On many of the projects I've done I found that even the most complicated idea can be planned, organized, and prioritized to keep the development simple. And by keeping it simple, I can actually get quite a bit of a project done quicker. And believe me that makes for a happy client.

So I thought today I'd share a few tools I've been using that will help simplify my web development.

If you're new to building websites, these tools will help you design a nice looking website with all the backend code needed for the modern web. If you're an expert, you've probably already looked at or are currently using these tools. So if there is a tool, library, or framework I didn't mention that you think will help the new to moderate web developer, please let us know in the comments.

Now I'm going to give a brief description on each tool does, you'll be able to learn more about them at their respective websites, all of which I'll link in the all important show notes.

First off I do most of my coding in a basic text editor. I find I have more control over what I'm building. I could use one of those visual web builders, where you would drag and drop elements into place, but I find those don't give me the flexibility I need in my style of building. I think in code. Just like a musician reads sheet music, I can look at HTML, CSS, and Javascript and know what it does and what it's going to look like.

So the primary text editor I use is Notepad++. It's a free powerful text editor for Windows. It has just about anything a code writer would need. Another editor that I've started to use more and more is called Atom. It's also free and multi platform. It's also has everything needed to write code, but it has a few different functions that don't come native to Notepad++. I will find myself going back and forth between these two. So during a typical workday I'll have both of these open all day long.

Now when it comes to the code itself, I find more often than not I start with the Bootstrap framework and jQuery javascript library. These two are a lifesaver. They give you a great foundation to build on. No point reinventing things if you don't have to.

Bootstrap is a popular HTML, CSS, and JS framework for developing responsive web projects. It also comes with all the basic design elements you need to build a nice looking website.

jQuery is a fast, small, and feature-rich Javascript library. It makes complicated things like HTML document manipulation, event handling, animation, and Ajax much simpler with easy-to-use code that works across a multitude of browsers.

Bootstrap does comes with a nice icon set, but if you want something that's even nicer, with more options, and easy to use, check out Font Awesome. Font Awesome is a free set of icons, specially designed for websites and applications.

Now when you're working on a project there are times you'll have to wait on your graphics or copyedit teams to get their stuff done. If it's possible, don't wait on them. Just put in some placeholder images or text, and get your coding done.

(UPDATE it's now placeholder.com) Placehold.it is quick and simple image placeholder service. All you do is point your image source to their URL with a set of size parameters, and you have a simple filler image.

HTML-Ipsum is Lorem Ipsum text filler service. It generates some formated nonsense text for you, that all you need to do copy it and paste it into place.

And finally for those times when something isn't displaying right or crashing and you just can't figure out why. Don't beat your head on your desk after you've read that reference manual for the Nth time. Go ask someone.

Stack Overflow is a question and answer site for programmers. Trust me when I say if you've had the problem, someone else has too, and they've most likely posted and received an answer at Stack Overflow.

Well that's it for now. Remember I'll have a link to all of them in the show notes. These are just a few of the tools I have in my code building toolbox, and I hope they help you with your next web development project. If you have any questions please feel free to ask, contact information at the end of this podcast. Happy coding.

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