In Installing basic software, we show you what tools you need to do simple web development, and how to install them properly.
What tools do the professionals use?
- A computer. Maybe that sounds obvious to some people, but some of you are reading this article from your phone or a library computer. For serious web development, it's better to invest in a desktop computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux).
- A text editor, to write code in. This could be a free text editor (e.g. Notepad++, gedit, Brackets, Atom or Text Wrangler), a commercial text editor (Sublime Text or Coda) or a hybrid editor (Dreamweaver).
- Web browsers, to test code in. Currently the most-used browsers are Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, and Internet Explorer. You should also test how your site performs on mobile devices and on any old browsers your target audience may still be using extensively (such as IE 6–8.)
- A graphics editor, like GIMP, Paint.NET, or Photoshop, to make images for your webpages.
- A version control system, to collaborate on a project with a team, share code and assets, and avoid editing conflicts. Right now Git is the most popular version control tool, and the GitHub code hosting service, based on Git, is also very popular.
- An FTP program, to upload webpages to a server for public viewing. There are loads of these programs available including Cyberduck, Fetch, and FileZilla.
- An automation system, like Grunt or Gulp, to perform repetitive tasks automatically, for example minifying code and running tests.
- Templates, libraries, frameworks, etc., to speed up writing common functionality.
- More tools besides!
What tools do I actually need, right now?
That looks like a scary list, but fortunately you can get started in web development without knowing anything about most of these. In this article we'll just set you up with a bare minimum — a text editor and some modern web browsers.
Installing a text editor
For Web development, you can probably do better than Notepad or TextEdit. We recommend starting out with Notepad++ for Windows or Text Wrangler for the Mac. They're both free and more full-featured than Notepad and TextEdit.
Installing modern web browsers
For now, we'll just install a couple of desktop web browsers to test our code in. Choose your operating system below and click the relevant links to download installers for your favorite browsers:
- Linux: Firefox, Chrome, Opera.
- Windows: Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Internet Explorer (If you have Windows 8 or above, you can install IE 10 or later; otherwise, you should install an alternative browser)
- Mac: Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari (Safari comes with iOS and OS X by default)
Before going on, you should install at least two of these browsers and have them ready for testing.