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For any web developer, making sure your workflow stays streamlined and efficient is essential. Even small projects can grow quickly in size and go through several iterations and stages of development. You want to have an editor that’s flexible but unobtrusive, source control that works, with lots of options, and tools to keep it all organized, just a few keystrokes away.
Last week, we took a look at some great Windows, Mac and Linux productivity applications that you may not have heard of. Now we’ll take a closer look at eight more applications for web developers. These tools have a variety of uses, but they all share one quality — they allow you to spend more time writing good code and less time dealing with project overhead.
Since we love efficiency so much, let’s dive right in.
1. Sublime Text
If you’ve been in the industry for any length of time, chances are you’ve heard of Sublime Text. Sublime is a powerful and flexible code with a robust feature set and a powerful Python language-based plug-in system, so you can further add functionality to the application. The $59 price tag may seem a bit steep (Sublime is free to try for as long as you like), but this program delivers.
With Sublime Text 2 Alpha currently available in Windows, Linux and Mac OS, Sublime offers up tools such as Goto Anything‚ a fuzzy-find utility that lets you quickly search and navigate to any project file, multi-select capabilities for fast multi-column editing, project management and instant project switching. It also offers many other features you’d expect a great editor to have — line syntax highlighting, regexp find and replace, and code snippets libraries.
Looking for something a little different? Kate is the default text editor for the KDE shell, but it’s also available for Windows and Mac (and works just fine in other Linux window managers).
Free and open-source, Kate has a wide array of great features for code editing. Some of Kate’s features include regexp find and replace, syntax highlighting and code folding, support for multiple encoding types, block selection and auto-indentation. Kate also has customizable keyboard shortcuts and a scripting language to extend the editor via plug-ins.
Git has rapidly become one of the most used and most popular version control systems around. The basics of Git are easy to learn, but its more advanced features can get confusing fast, especially when not everyone on your team is a die-hard code monkey. Enter SmartGit.
SmartGit provides a streamlined, powerful graphical interface for Git. Available for Windows, Linux and Mac, SmartGit (written in Java) makes browsing, cloning and committing to repositories easy, thanks to a familiar file browser interface and a graphical histories that easily diagram commits, branches and tags. SmartGit is free for non-commercial use, and commercial licenses start at $69, with bulk discounts available.
Anyone who’s ever worked with CSS knows how quickly a stylesheet can get out of hand. Keeping your CSS neat and well-organized isn’t always easy, and utilities like Sass aren’t always an option. For situations like this, CSSTidy comes to the rescue.
This free, open-source application for Windows processes, cleans and compresses your stylesheets. CSSTidy can strip out duplicate rules, remove whitespace and comments, correct misplaced semicolons, and convert rules to shorthand syntax, and more. A quick run through CSSTidy before going live makes sure your CSS files are neat and fast-loading.
Another great, free Windows application from the folks over at PortableApps, Toucan is backup, synchronization and encryption utility that will help you keep your private data secure and safe.
Make, restore, synchronize and encrypt all of your code and sensitive information (like all of those passwords) quickly and easily using Toucan’s simple GUI. Toucan offers more advanced features, as well, including rules that let you specify guidelines for file management, a command line interface and a powerful scripting system using the Lua programming language.
Sure, an FTP program may not sound very glamorous, but the $34 Transmit application for the Mac OS is the cream of the crop.
Transmit boasts a slick, intuitive interface with support for a number of protocols, including FTP, SSH and even Amazon S3. Other features include default permissions and auto-continue on error and a flexible UI that supports single or multi-panel layouts (with quick look and coverflow), which make Transmit’s remote file management seamless and simple.
The name alone makes this free application for Windows, Linux and Mac sound like more of a powerhouse work horse than just another pretty GUI, and that’s pretty much exactly what MySQL Workbench is — a no-nonsense GUI front-end for the MySQL database.
Complete with administration tools and powerful query building and table management utilities, Workbench (which comes straight from the MySQL developers), offers a robust desktop application for interfacing with, building, testing, optimizing and maintaining your MySQL database.
If you’re like most developers, chances are you collect code — those little bits of brilliance that crop up here and there, only to prove invaluable a couple of weeks down the road. At $39, the Snippets app for the Mac OS gives you some place to store all of those stray lines of delicious source code.
Snippets sits quietly in your menu bar and waits for you to come along and drop code into it. When you enter a new snippet, you’ll also have the ability to add labels (tags) for faster search and indexing. You’ll also be able to give each snippet a description. Clean, small and unobtrusive, Snippets stays out of the way until you need it and lets you quickly add, browse and search for just the right bit of code when you need it.
As a web developer, getting and staying organized is key. Good software helps you get work done faster and more efficiently, letting you focus on writing great code. We’ve gone over eight applications that go a long way in helping to achieve these goals — tools that let you edit, organize, back up and manage code across multiple platforms, but our list is by no means exhaustive. We’d love to hear about some of the great developer tools you can’t live without.
Series Supported by VMware Workstation
The Cross-Platform Apps Series is supported by VMware Workstation, the most reliable, secure way to run multiple operating systems at the same time. Winner of more than 50 industry awards, VMware Workstation transforms the way technical professionals develop, test, demo and deploy software. VMware Workstation is an integral component of any serious technical professional’s toolkit.
If you have an older version of Workstation, upgrade today to experience its new improved features. As a special bonus, you will receive a free copy of VMware ThinApp Starter Edition with the purchase of VMware Workstation. This offer expires on April 30th, 2011.
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