Nowadays, web applications have become an indispensable instrument used by most modern companies for the promotion of their products and services. In addition, web technologies help to automate business processes within a company and enhance the overall working efficiency of employees.
- Code Editors and IDEs
- Version Control Systems
- Package Managers
- Front-End Frameworks
- CSS Technologies
- Back-End Technologies
- Testing Frameworks
- Task Runners and Module Bundlers
- Other Web Development Tools
Code Editors and IDEs
One of the key decisions for any web developer is to choose a suitable environment for writing and running code, as you will use it most of the time during the coding process.
There are a large number of code editors and IDEs (Integrated Development Environment) that are used by programmers for this purpose.
Code editors are simple tools mainly serving for writing and reading code, while IDEs are more powerful but at the same time more complex and memory intensive tools.
Visual Studio Code
Sublime Text is a lightweight cross-platform text editor packed with a set of instruments for highlighting, marking, and processing fragments of code. It offers numerous useful features such as a command palette, multiple selections, split editing, package control, instant switch between projects, and much more. The editor is also notable for robust API and enhanced customization capabilities.
Version Control Systems
When working on a web project it is vital to have a reliable version control system (VCS) that helps to store a history of all changes introduced to source code over time in a repository and revert them if needed. VCSs are also very helpful in enabling multiple developers to simultaneously collaborate on one project and synchronizing their efforts.
There are three main types of VCS: local (RCS), centralized (CVS, Subversion, Perforce), and distributed (Git, Mercurial Bazaar). To avoid error-proneness and lack of collaboration capability typical for local systems and not to depend on one server like with centralized systems, web developers opt for distributed VCSs and one of them deserves special attention.
Git is a well-supported distributed VCS that is commonly used by web developers for managing projects of any complexity level with speed and utmost efficiency. The most distinguishing Git features are local branching, user-friendly staging area, data integrity, nonlinear workflows, and offline access to a full history tree. Some popular services such as GitHub and GitLab provide hosting for Git repositories. Many IDEs come with built-in support for Git.
However, it should also be mentioned that Git offers limited support for Windows (compared to Linux) and it is not that easy to learn (a steep learning curve). Other distributed version control systems Mercurial and Bazaar are similar to Git in many ways, but Git has gained more popularity among web developers.
Git has a lot of embedded GUI tools used for committing and browsing, but some web developers choose to add some third-party tools such as GitUI for achieving platform-specific experience. GitUI is a very fast and user-friendly interface that can be utilized right in the terminal. It provides convenient keyboard-only control with context-based help for using hot-keys. This scalable UI also allows benefiting from stashing, branch list, async input polling, and many other features.
npm is a standard package manager for the Node.js runtime environment (also applicable on the front-end) powering an immense repository of code packages and modules. This tool allows managing all project dependencies, manipulating and sharing packaged modules of code, and collaborating with other developers. Being around for more than a decade, npm has gathered a big community that offers an array of extra libraries and plugins that help developers to solve various issues.
Created and supported by Facebook with due regard to npm weaknesses, Yarn has quickly become a promising alternative option. Many web developers gladly adapted this package manager because of its great characteristics in terms of security, performance, and reliability.
Yarn’s lock file format makes it possible to install dependencies the same way on a different machine independently of the installation order. The offline mode allows the reinstallation of packages without an internet connection. It is also not a problem to install packages from npm or Bower thanks to the support for multiple registries. On the flip side, Yarn saves all dependencies locally, thereby increasing the use of disc space, and currently does not have such strong community support like npm.
According to the State of JS 2020 survey, React, Vue.js, and Angular are still the most widely used front-end frameworks. Let us find out why.
Strongly supported and promoted by Facebook, React has become a powerful and very popular tool for building interactive and feature-rich UIs. Comparing NPM package downloads over various time periods, it is the most demanded top framework. With React, you can apply reusable components for building complex interfaces much faster and easily describe them using the JSX syntax extension.
The declarative programming approach makes your code more readable and helps to reduce its size. The use of the Virtual DOM enhances the performance of your app. It is also possible to combine React with Node.js for rendering on the server, React Native for building mobile apps, as well as with external libraries and frameworks. Starting from v17.0, the process of React updating has become very flexible.
If you need a mature framework intended for building sophisticated enterprise single-page apps, take a look at Angular. It is based on TypeScript and has a component-based architecture. Angular comes with a rich ecosystem and many out-of-the-box features such as RxJS for handling asynchronous data, a developer-friendly Angular CLI, Angular Universal, hierarchical dependency injection, and many others. A new rendering engine known as Ivy makes Angular apps much faster. The framework is supported by popular code editors and testing tools. Angular receives long-term support from Google.
Next-Generation Reactive Frameworks
According to the State of Frontend 2020 report, considering alternatives to these mainstream frameworks, you can pay attention to so-called next-generation reactive frameworks such as:
It is claimed that these frameworks are well suited for smaller apps but may require extra effort when working on more complex projects. All of them help to significantly reduce bundle sizes of default apps since they do not carry the same legacy as frameworks that have to support features of the past few years. These promising technologies are also in line with the latest standards and language features.
All components are fully customizable, support TypeScript, and work on touch devices. Thanks to intuitive and powerful APIs, hundreds of samples, code snippets, and demos, you will quickly learn all aspects of DHTMLX products and make the most of their numerous functionalities in your web project.
Kendo UI offers a set of ready-made UI components allowing you to develop line-of-business apps in combination with top JS frameworks. You can employ various charts, layouts, and other UI elements to implement useful functionalities required in business activities. There are also special Kendo UI Templates utilized for enhancing the performance of the UI components. One more notable feature is an embedded MVVM library that permits two-way data binding. Integrated customizable themes will help match Kendo UI components to particular design requirements.
Syncfusion Essential JS 2 is a UI library that can be utilized for creating enterprise-grade apps. All UI components (grids, layouts, charts, etc.) included in this library are written in TypeScript and have a modular architecture. You can apply several built-in themes, and if needed customize them with the help of an online Theme Studio. All the controls are responsive and touch-friendly, thus they are rendered properly on various types of devices. Multiple language and cultural settings help to make your app more user-friendly for users from different countries.
You have to devote some time to make your business application visually appealing to end-users. Creating attractive designs for your app involves the use of CSS technologies:
CSS frameworks can hardly help to create a 100% unique style for your app but they certainly speed up the development and ease code maintenance. If you want to combine fast development with enhanced customization capabilities, TailwindCSS can be a good choice that is currently growing in popularity among developers. It does not come with limiting built-in components like Bootstrap and provides more freedom to create custom designs. Another important feature is that this framework automatically removes all unused CSS, reducing the size of the final CSS bundle.
Compressors and minifiers
Complex and data-intensive CSS files can have a negative impact on the app loading time. That’s where CSS compressors and minifiers come into play. Instead of time-robbing manual manipulations for optimizing style sheets, these tools automatically compress your CSS code and increase the speed of your app.
If you want to protect the design of your app from piracy, code injections, and other malicious actions, you can apply obfuscation tools. Obfuscators help to transform your CSS in such a way that it will be hard for third parties to comprehend the code and reuse it to their advantage.
Pure CSS is very limited in terms of functionality. Therefore many web developers resort to using special CSS extension languages called preprocessors. These tools are useful in web development, as they add extra syntax features such as variables, operations, mixins, nesting enabling you to write more readable and maintainable code. The most popular preprocessors are Sass, Less, Stylus.
Building a robust backend is one of the key goals of any modern web project since the app’s performance and stability depend on it. When it comes to implementing your business web application on the server-side and organizing its business logic, you can consider the following options for your stack:
PHP is a well-established and stable scripting language mainly focusing on fulfilling web development needs on the server-side. It is flexible and can be used in combination with many other programming languages and web technologies. PHP allows creating custom extensions for significantly increasing the speed of apps. It is also known for running well on major operating systems, web servers, and supporting various databases.
Many powerful PHP frameworks such as Laravel, Symfony, Slim, etc. contribute to faster and easier development. This coding language comes with all-encompassing documentation and receives great support from a large community. However, it is frequently criticized for security vulnerabilities and poor error handling.
Golang (or simply Go) is a statically-typed coding language from Google focused on simplifying backend development and ensuring advanced performance. This language is very fast, as it compiles directly to the machine code. Go encourages programmers to be more effective by always striving to provide only one solution for one problem. It brings along such significant features as built-in concurrency, garbage collection, and embedded testing environment.
Interestingly, Go can also be applied on the client-side after being compiled to pure JS with GopherJS transpiler. Although some programmers dislike the lack of generics and package management issues in Go, it still can be a good option for developing a business app.
Data is an essential asset of any business application that is usually stored in a table format within a database. Each modern web app uses one or several databases for storing various kinds of information. The key thing here is to ensure that end-users have an efficient instrument for interacting with databases. For this purpose, you have to choose the proper database management system (DBMS).
Taking into account the results of the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2020 on the subject, let us consider 3 interesting DBMS options for your project.
MySQL is a purely relational DBMS that has been a favorite of many web developers for years. It is a part of LAMP – a popular web development stack. This cross-platform database system is easy to use and maintain with numerous GUI tools. It should not cause any serious problems during the installation and deployment. Using MySQL, you can be sure that all interactions with data will be really fast and secure.
PostgreSQL (or Postgres) is an extensive object-relational DBMS designed for safely storing and scaling even the most complex data workloads. This system closely adheres to SQL standards. It is notable for data integrity and enhanced extensibility. For instance, you can specify your own data types or create custom functions. Postgres is also great at handling concurrency. It provides a variety of useful features related to data storage, replication, and querying.
MongoDB is a classic example of a NoSQL system and responders of the StackOverflow survey name this database technology that developers want to learn the most.
Testing frameworks are dedicated to automatically checking application behavior under different conditions and quickly detecting any errors or other deviations from the expected behavior specified in the actual requirements.
Task Runners and Module Bundlers
Grunt is a user-friendly JS task runner with a large ecosystem containing thousands of useful plugins for performing any kind of routine development tasks. Grunt is all about configuration and its plugins can perform one or several tasks. Grunt will run them sequentially. The greatest thing about Grunt is its enhanced customizability. You can create your own plugin, add new functionality, or generate a custom task and configure it in such a way that it will include multiple existing tasks.
Other Web Development Tools
Here is a list of valuable web services that can be useful in dealing with specific tasks during the development process:
- Regular Expressions 101 is a widely-used resource that allows you to debug your regular expressions in real time
- Material Design Icons is a huge collection of free material design icons for your application
- Current Millis is a useful plugin for working with dates and time in the microtime format
- Coolors is a great service for fast generation of color schemes that can be used when creating a mock-up of an application
- Can I Use is a valuable instrument for building a cross-browser web application
All instruments highlighted in this article are trusted by professional web developers but it is just a small part of web development tools and resources available for optimizing your development workflow and helping you to be more productive.
And last but not least, when you get stuck with some coding issues on the project do not hesitate to use the internet, because chances are high that your problems have already been encountered and solved by somebody else.
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