Must-Have Tools for Developers: An Update

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Hundreds, even thousands, of Web development tools are available online at any given time, which makes it nearly impossible to test and rate every one as a necessity or not.

But as much as IT professionals have gotten to use Web development tools, complacency is still the bane of any creative existence. Divided into three categories, these automation, reference and code tools are a mix of recent open-source and proprietary software programs are receiving positive buzz from developers on the ground level.

Automation Tools
As the Web continues to grow, testers are under more and more pressure to test more in a smaller amount of time. Certainly, manual testing everything never could meet the demand set in the last few years, but it hasn’t been abandoned. Test automation is still really partial automation in addition to manual testing. One product that has proven effective in this regard is BPEL4People, a program that allows autonomy in what the developer wants to automate and control.

Reference Tools
The human brain can’t possibly know everything, not even with a reliable Web development reference guide. Because the ins and outs of Web development can change seemingly overnight, having a complete and updated go-to reference guide is key to continued success. The Web Developer’s Virtual Library ( is an oft-updated, thorough resource site with multiple subjects and discussion forums. Every day, hundreds of articles are posted that detail the latest innovations, as well as a massive resource section and tutorials for software and authoring.

Code Tools
Depending on which environment you’re working in (more than likely either Visual Basic or Java), generating and policing your code is essential to a successful program. NDoc ( is an open-source documentation generator that is versatile in both usability and format.

NDoc uses a graphical user interface (GUI) to make things easier for programmers at all levels, as well as support different output formats, including Java and compressed HTML (CHM).

FxCop is an automated software analysis tool for Visual Basic, available free via Microsoft, that checks for defects in more than 200 areas. Although it is not as versatile as some other code tools, the prevalence of Visual Basic programmers and the price (free) make it an interesting instrument.

Aside from these categorical tools, mentioning some unique ones that defy categorization could add many more options when developing a new site. Design tools are not essential for functionality but are often the difference for a successful site.

For photo manipulation, optimization and overall visual upkeep, the GNU image manipulation program (GIMP) ( and Feng GUI ( are two of the most exciting.

GIMP is an image-manipulation program that works on any operating system doing a variety of tasks such as photo retouching.

Feng GUI is more about maximizing the sense of visual style you want to create. With this open-source program, you can track the most visually appealing aspects of your site through a heat map, which simulates human visual attention.

This is just a small sampling of the latest Web development tools, some of which might be nothing new and some of which might be “must haves,” according to your needs as a developer.

Either way, the important thing is to keep looking forward for new (particularly free) tools that, although they might not be able to save it today, could save your life tomorrow.

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