10 Best Open Source Tools for Web Developers

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Web developers have a fond love for open source tools not only because these tools are generally free of cost, but they can be modified in any way the developer sees fit. That is actually where the free in free/open source software comes from.

While .NET and other paid technologies and tools do have their place on the Web, it really is open source tools and applications that power it. There are thousands of great open source applications and picking the best among them is really hard since so many people have their own personal favorites. The list prepared for you represents 10 open source tools almost any Web developer can use every day:

1. KompoZer

All the fans of Dreamweaver might consider KompoZer the poor man’s choice but actually this isn’t so. KompoZer, the former Nvu, is a WISYWIG HTML editor that, unlike Dreamweaver, doesn’t require an ultra powerful PC just to open a file. KompoZer is a light-weight application but it is a good choice even for advanced programming tasks.

2. Eclipse

Java developers do have a lot of IDEs to choose from. Many of them choose Eclipse because it is convenient to work with. Additionally, it has a PHP plug-in so if you have occasional PHP programming tasks, you can still work in Eclipse.

3. Komodo Edit

Komodo Edit is an editor for Perl, Python, Tcl, PHP, Ruby, Javascript, etc. It is the little brother of their paid Komodo IDE, but even this kind of limited edition has all the perks you will need in your daily work.

4. Apache

Apache is the Web server that no Web developer can go without. Apache is fast and reliable but mastering it can be a bit hard, especially for a beginner.

5. XAMPP

If you want to write Web applications, a Web server is only the foundation. You need other tools, such as the relational MySQL database and the PHP language framework. Installing and configuring them one by one is not rocket science but it is much easier when you get XAMPP – a bundle with Apache, PHP, and MySQL. XAMPP is very easy to install.

6. PostgreSQL

MySQL is a good choice for a relational DB but if you have some reasons not to use it, you could consider an alternative, such as PostgreSQL.

7. phpMyAdmin

phpMyAdmin is another open source application many Web developers can’t live without. It is a GUI  used to administer MySQL databases and it makes the entire  process much easier.

8. Firefox Web Developer Toolbar

Firebug is cute, but if you want something really big and powerful then you should try the Firefox web developer toolbar. It has even more functions than the Firebug plug-in and with it you can literally dissect any Web page to see what’s inside its code.

And for you Chrome addicts out there, there is a version available for you as well.

9. OpenSTA

Once you finish coding your application you are not done yet. You need to test it. While there are tons of tests you can (and should) do, one of the tests you shouldn’t skip under any circumstances is load testing. With the help of OpenSTA you can perform the necessary tests to make sure that your application doesn’t misbehave under stress.

10. Browsershots.org

Unlike the other tools and applications on the list, this one isn’t an application/tool but rather a free service. However, since it is a great helper, I have included it in the list. Browsershots.org allows to you see how your site is viewed in any possible browser. The list of browsers includes almost any browser you can imagine and this saves you the hassle to manually test your site for browser compatibility.

Of course, if I left your favorite tool off this list please share it with our readers in the comment section below!

By Jeff
Jeff is a freelance writer and the editor of Developer Drive. He writes on web development topics with a focus on web application security. In his spare time he coaches youth football and works as a technology coordinator for the Palm Beach County school district. More articles by Jeff
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