Essential Front-End Development Tools Every Web Developer Should Master
As a front-end developer do you find that you are unable to deliver the best experience to your clients? Sometimes, you feel that your hands are tied, not because you are not an experienced developer, but because you do not have the right tools for the job.
This is especially the case when you are a new developer and are clueless about which tools to use and which ones to ignore. If you have the support of a great team, you will do fine as many experienced developers will mentor you.
But, if you do not have that support and are doing it on your own, you must be looking for answers.
Finding the right front-end development tools to create appealing, engaging, and wonderful websites and user experiences for your visitors can be challenging.
In the past decade, front-end web development has come a long way as there are now many fantastic, simple, and great tools. There are super text editors with the abilities of powerful IDEs, without the added load on resources.
Then there are great libraries of front-end scripts that make the development process as simple as a stroll in the park. The tools for adding clear and outstanding fonts, icons, and effects to your web pages are also aplenty.
The browsers have also come a long way in helping you fix your code, test its performance, and make it responsive and faster to load.
If there were only a few good tools, then you would have already known about them. But the problem becomes accentuated when many tools are doing similar things with little variations in their functionalities and ease of use.
To help you find your way in the maze, we list the best nine front-end development tools that will cover all requirements from editors to scripting, and from styling to testing.
These top 9 essential front-end tools must be in every developer’s arsenal to keep ahead of the competition.
1. Sublime Text
Sublime Text is an open-source cross-platform code editor that has amazing capabilities like file system navigation, syntax highlighting, symbols library, and support for all front-end languages and scripts.
Its minimalistic design makes it the perfect editor for users who want the same experience of all platforms – Windows, Apple, and Linux. The shortcuts make coding, debugging, code completion, and many more simple and fun routine tasks.
With the split pane functionality, you can effortlessly navigate between code from multiple files, or even from different sections of the same file. With split tabs, sidebar, and Goto Anything, you can do more in less time.
The new Context-aware AutoComplete feature allows the editor to perform smart auto completions and offer smart suggestions. You can select multiple tabs and perform a group operation on them.
2. Visual Studio Code
Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code is also a free and open-source code editor available for all major platforms like Windows, macOS, and Linux. The VC Code has gained significant acceptance and popularity among the developer community in a short time because of its increasingly powerful libraries, plugins, and extensions.
The editor is highly customizable and sports features like syntax highlighting, code completion, code refactoring, embedded Git, testing support, and access to a terminal. VS Code allows to debug web pages, scripts, and style sheets with the help of breakpoints, call stacks, and consoles.
The VS Code extensions for Java, PHP, Python, and C# are favorites among full-stack developers and they develop complete websites on it.
The reason for its popularity is that it is a fast, small, and feature-rich library. jQuery is supported by all browsers, and even their mobile versions – a perk of being around for so long. The jQuery community is highly active and regularly adds to its functionality and features by upgrading existing libraries and adding new ones.
With jQuery, developers can write code more intuitively that is easy to read, write, maintain, and update.
4. Angular JS
AngularJS provides client-side MVC (Model View Controller) and MVVM (Model-View View-Model) architectures for web development. With AngularJS it becomes easier to develop progressive web applications that are highly responsive.
It is commonly used as part of the MEAN stack – MongoDB database, Express.js web application server framework, AngularJS front-end framework, and Node.js server runtime environment.
The code written in AngularJS is more readable, expressive, and maintainable compared to many other platforms. It is now routinely used to develop cross-platform applications, hybrid mobile applications, and desktop-level applications.
React is routinely used in the development of single-page web applications (SPA) and mobile apps. React is concerned only with state management and delivering that state to the HTML DOM. Therefore, to create React applications, additional libraries are necessary for functions such as routing and some client-side functionality.
React has a declarative syntax making it easier to learn, use, debug, maintain, and test. The views in React are component-based that means each component manages its state.
React Native is used to building cross-platform mobile applications that work just as well and as fast as apps developed in native code. The code can be reused for web applications as well.
The less time you spend on doing repetitive tasks, the more you can focus on the design and the functionality of the website. It also makes your job easier. All you have to do is to configure Grunt using a Gruntfile, and its task runner can do most of your mundane work with zero effort.
The huge Grunt ecosystem is growing every day with hundreds of plugins to automate just about anything.
With experience, you will notice that there are many elements that you code and use routinely while developing front-end web applications. React’s Material UI is a set of libraries with a large number of components for faster and easier web development.
With MaterialUI you can develop your design styles or start using hundreds of appealing Material Designs. MaterialUI components can work in your web application without any additional setup and do not complicate the global code scope.
React MaterialUI components are highly customizable, cutting down the time and lines of code dramatically to build a project.
With premium themes available in the MaterialUI store, your projects can achieve the next level in design, UI, and UX.
Dubbed as CSS with superpowers, Sass or Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets is a preprocessor for the SassScript scripting language that is interpreted or compiled into CSS.
In the original Sass syntax, or the “indented syntax,” indentation was used to separate code blocks and new lines to segregate rules. The newer Sassy CSS syntax uses block formatting like CSS where braces are used for code blocks and semicolons separate rules.
Sass is tipped as the most powerful, stable, and mature CSS extension language. With Sass, you can write reusable, maintainable, and future-proof CSS code.
Sass allows the use of variables, nesting, and mix-ins to render simple CSS on the compilation. Many popular CSS frameworks are built with Sass, such as Compass, Bourbon, and Susy.
9. Chrome Developer Tools
The most popular browser today is Google’s Chrome and other Chromium-based web browsers. Chrome comes with many developer tools to help you build, test, debug, audit, and maintain your web applications.
These free tools are used by most front-end developers because of the very large market share of Android devices, and Chrome’s solid position in the desktop browser market.
These developer tools allow programmers to observe real-time rendering and processing of HTML elements, client-side scripts, and stylesheets on a web page. You can also see the effect of events occurring and their handling by your code, and the effect of device size on display.
A few of the important tools are:
- Device Mode – Preview your work on different popular mobile devices.
- Network – Monitor network activity and load.
- Performance – Check the application’s performance and resource usage.
- Elements – Test each element in the DOM.
We are sure that by mastering these nine essential development tools, you can become a great and successful front-end developer. Mastering these web design & development tools can help you move ahead quickly in your career.
Gourav Sharma is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Arka Softwares, a leading web app development company. He has 4 years of experience in the Information Technology industry. He spends his time reading about new trends in Digital Marketing and the latest app development technologies.