Web development tools are being created at breakneck speeds — new tools crop up every month, old web development tools suddenly lose relevance or evolve acquiring additional functionality, trends come and go, and keeping track of all this may be a tough job for both individual developers and businesses. However, when wisely chosen and skillfully used, these Web development tools can considerably improve both developers’ productivity and the results of their work regarding UX, website/app interactivity, its look and feel. In this article, we will enumerate some Web development tools that can certainly make your life easier in 2018.
1. Automated testing
Testing constitutes a considerable share of any development job, and running tests on numerous different devices and browsers after every significant change is both boring and time-consuming. Automation tools can both avoid the need to waste time that can be more efficiently spent doing creative work and eliminate the likelihood of human error in this process. Task runners like Gulp and browser automation systems like Selenium can detect most mistakes in your code and alert you to failures in different browsers as they gather up. Some (e.g., Sauce Lab) provide you with remote access to their functionality without the need to set up your own testing system.
2. Form builders
Forms are one of the most efficient and straightforward ways to collect data about users, learn their preferences, and get feedback — at least when they are used right: Don’t intimidate users with the number of fields to fill in or annoy them with intrusive questions. They tend to be somewhat boring, yes — but they don’t have to be, and many more modern tools try hard to make standard contact fields and payment options look fascinating.
There are many options to choose from — Gravity Forms, Formstack, Typeform, Jotform to name just a few. Although most of them are pretty much alike in terms of functionality and pricing, there are differences. Some offer more features but limit the number of websites you can use your forms on, and others don’t set any limits but provide only a limited number of features in a standard package. There is no ideal choice for an online form builder — it depends on what you need from it. However, there are a few signs that you are dealing with a quality tool: it should be flexible (i.e., be able to create both a one-field contact form and a multipage survey), fast, and straightforward to use (an average form shouldn’t take you more than five minutes to make) and built to work on any website.
3. Task automation
Task runners like Grunt can dramatically decrease the amount of time you have to spend on routine and repetitive tasks like minification, unit testing, compilation, code linting, etc. Grunt provides numerous bundled plugins for commonly used tasks and is easily extensible, offering functionality for writing the necessary assignments on your own. Another useful feature is that you can combine several tasks into one. After you’ve configured the Gruntfile, the tool will do most of your routine work with almost literally zero supervision.
Another reason to choose Grunt specifically is its rapidly growing community — there are already hundreds of plugins covering most tasks developers have to deal with. If somebody hasn’t coded what you need yet, you will be able to do it yourself easily.
The need to press the Refresh button every time you introduce any changes into your code may seem like a small and barely noticeable thing, but after you have to repeat it a couple of hundred times a day, it becomes incredibly annoying. LiveReload does a very simple thing that, nevertheless, can make your life much easier. It monitors changes in the file system and automatically applies them the moment you save a file. Even CSS edits and image changes are applied instantly, allowing you to see the page you are editing in development. Removing the need to refresh makes the development process much more streamlined and allows you to get on with your work without interruptions, giving you fewer chances to lose your train of thought.
Currently, it works in Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Mobile Safari.
5. React Native
Sketch has been slowly but steadily consolidating its position as a superior design tool over the last few years, making quite a dent in Photoshop’s position. There are many features to recommend it for a simple, intuitive, and beautiful interface, autosave function, infinite canvas, and so on. What makes it especially attractive for web developers is that it often feels like it had been built explicitly as a tool for user interface design creation. Its developers seem to understand the needs of UI designers and steadily address them, adding functionality aimed at them with every new release. It is still being developed at a phenomenal rate, reaching version 49 in seven years of development, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. This speed may come at a specific cost concerning stability, but the development team is always quick to address newly found bugs with patches.
Time to update your Web development tools
The scene of web development is rapidly changing, and if you want to keep current, you have to renew and update your toolset now and then. It may require a lot of time to get used to new apps, but the payoff in terms of efficiency and results is worth it.