There are many important programs that are used when designing, developing, and maintaining websites. I would like to discuss the different tools that I use and recommend. I hope that this will be helpful for all those learning web design and development.
Photoshop is the de-facto tool used to create graphics. It is used by both web designers and print designers alike. Photoshop is essential for making an initial website design, as well as generating graphics for web pages. It is a powerful program that can really do a lot, and it provides all the tools to graphically lay out a website prior to its construction into HTML. Once I create a layered site layout (called a website “mock”) in Photoshop, I then generate the graphic files and incorporate these items within the HTML.
Dreamweaver is a standard for working with HTML code and CSS, and is also very important for working with php pages. Dreamweaver lays out the code for each page in an organized and color-coded fashion. It has many tools and shortcuts allowing me to easily work with the code. Dreamweaver also has an extremely useful split pane design which allows viewing of the code at the same time as a WYSIWYG Editor. (Dreamweaver also has built in FTP tools to connect a site to a web server, but I don’t use their FTP tools since I prefer the additional control of manual FTP.)
In order to create or update websites, the files need to be placed on a web server. The web server contains a file structure where local files can be uploaded. An FTP client allows one to login to a web server and upload and download the web files. While there are many FTP clients available, Filezilla is free, and is one of the most popular. Aside from providing the standard FTP utilities such as a divided pane and stored website lists, Filezilla is very useful for its flexibility and upload speed. For example, if it has a problem with a certain file uploading, it will skip it and continue without halting the procedure.
Visual Studio is what I use for working in asp.net. Most of the .net sites I work in can be configured with the free express version. I used to do a lot more programming in .net, but lately all of my data-driven websites are in php. (php is much easier to use, and there are so many new libraries and controls, making php more practical and effective then asp.net for the types of websites I work with.)
phpMyAdmin is an open source web-based application written in php that controls the administration of MySQL databases. MySQL is the most popular open source relational database management system, and is a standard on many websites. phpMyAdmin is the tool that I use to run queries and configure, maintain, import, and export data from MySQL databases.
SQL Server Management Studio (ssms) is software that is used for configuring, managing, and administering MSSQL Databases. Unlike phpMyAdmin which is entirely web-based, ssms is a GUI desktop application. There is a free “express” version of ssms which is what I use, since all MSSQL sites I work on only require the MSSQL Express version. Most of my recent database projects are in php/MySQL rather than asp.net/MSSQL, but I still do work in the latter, especially on existing projects done in this orientation.
The plain and simple Notepad that is built-in to Windows is an important tool when it comes to web development. I use notepad regularly to clean formatting when copying text and code. Notepad strips all garbage code behind HTML content and content from Microsoft Word, and allows for clean text code for copying inside a web page.
Faststone is a free imaging application which allows image manipulation such as resizing, adding special effects, and watermarking of images. Its most powerful tool is the batch processing tool, which allows editing of multiple images on a single procedure. For example, with FastStone I can take 20 images and size them, add a watermark, and give them unique names all in one process.
Acrobat is the standard for print documents on the web. This includes printable forms and graphic brochures. Acrobat Professional allows editing and organizing of such documents.
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