The 7 Essential Web Development Tools

CareerFoundry Blog contributor Liz Mowforth

Web development tools have come a long way in just a few short years. Thanks to this, we can harness the power of highly tested libraries to improve our workflow and benefit from greater possibilities when it comes to responsive design.

Not only that, we can build things together thanks to ever-improving version control systems.

From browser add-ons and plugins, to processors that streamline your code, there have never been more possibilities for creating awesome web applications.

But with the number of web dev tools increasing almost daily, finding the best software to get the job done can sometimes feel daunting.

To help you out, we’ve created a list of essential tools for frontend development to get you started. If you’re interested in finding out about one in particular, simply select it from the list below.

  1. Sublime Text
  2. Chrome Developer Tools
  3. jQuery
  4. GitHub
  5. CodePen
  6. Angular
  7. Sass

7 of the best web development tools for 2024

Not keen on reading? Then watch the video below in which Will, one of our course specialists, talks you through some of the tools.

1. Sublime Text

Let’s start with the basics: a first-rate code editor—one that features a well-designed, super efficient, and ultra speedy user interface. There are several that do this well, but arguably the best (and most popular) is Sublime Text.

Artfully run by a one-man development team, the secret to Sublime’s success lies in the program’s vast array of keyboard shortcuts—such as the ability to perform simultaneous editing (making the same interactive changes to multiple selected areas) as well as quick navigation to files, symbols, and lines. And when you’re spending 8+ hours with your editor each day, those precious few seconds saved for each process really do add up…

Despite the raft of AI programming tools that came online in 2023 and the others that are sure to be added over this year, Sublime Text remains a solid starting point for coders.

2. Chrome Developer Tools

Wouldn’t it be great if you could edit your HTML and CSS in real-time, or debug your JavaScript, all while viewing a thorough performance analysis of your website?

Google’s built-in Chrome Developer Tools let you do just that. Bundled and available in both Chrome and Safari, they allow developers access into the internals of their web application. On top of this, a palette of network tools can help optimize your loading flows, while a timeline gives you a deeper understanding of what the browser is doing at any given moment.

Google release an update every six weeks–so check out their website as well as the Google Developers YouTube channel to keep your skills up-to-date.

A web developer using Sublime Text

3. jQuery

JavaScript has long been considered an essential frontend language by developers, although it’s not without its problems: riddled with browser inconsistencies, its somewhat complicated and unapproachable syntax meant that functionality often suffered.

That was until 2006, when jQuery—a fast, small, cross-platform JavaScript library aimed at simplifying the frontend process—appeared on the scene. By abstracting a lot of the functionality usually left for developers to solve on their own, jQuery allowed greater scope for creating animations, adding plug-ins, or even just navigating documents.

And it’s clearly successful—jQuery was by far the most popular JavaScript library in existence in 2015, with installation on 65% of the top 10 million highest-traffic sites on the web at the time. If this sounds like something you’d like to look into some more, we have a full guide to jQuery vs JavaScript.

4. GitHub

It’s every developer’s worst nightmare—you’re working on a new project feature and you screw up. Enter version control systems (VCS)–and more specifically, GitHub.

By rolling out your project with the service, you can view any changes you’ve made or even go back to your previous state (making pesky mistakes a thing of the past). There are so many reasons why GitHub is vital to developers. The repository hosting service also boasts a rich open-source development community (making collaboration between teams as easy as pie), as well as providing several other components such as bug tracking, feature requests, task management, and wikis for every project.

What’s more, these days the service offers GitHub Copilot, an added benefit from the company being owned by Microsoft, who also have access to Open AI’s ChatGPT. Using this LLM, they’ve created one of these most popular AI developer tools, a dedicated coding assistant helping with your code when you need it.

Many employers will look for finely-honed Git skills, so now’s the perfect time to sign up–plus it’s a great way to get involved and learn from the best with a wide array of open-source projects to work on. If you’re not 100% sure of the differences between Git and GitHub already, make sure you know that first.

5. CodePen

Despite being around since 2012, the ever-increasing of people learning programming means that 2024 is going to be another bumper year for this tool beloved by the frontend community.

There is almost no better way of showcasing your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript snippets, and as a result their embeds are an increasingly common sight across coding resources online.

If you need some proof for just how user-friendly CodePen is, take a look at this very cool airplane-themed feature:

See the Pen
by Steve Gardner (@ste-vg)
on CodePen.

As well as showing off your GitHub profile, CodePen is an incredibly useful tool for those building or overhauling their web developer portfolio. It’s an elegant way of showing off not just the code behind features you’ve built, but also how they are displayed to users as well.

6. Angular

HTML is usually the cornerstone of any frontend developer’s toolbox, but it has what many perceive to be a serious flaw: it wasn’t designed to manage dynamic views.

This is where AngularJS, an open-source web framework, came in. Developed by Google, AngularJS lets you extend your application’s HTML syntax, resulting in a more expressive, readable, and quick to develop environment that could otherwise not have been built with HTML alone.

The game changed with the development of Angular, which is based on TypeScript, not JavaScript. Crucially still open-source, it’s still regarded as a JS-based technology, it’s now on Angular 14 and is still gaining popularity among frontend developers for its ability to deploy powerful web apps across multiple platforms.

Learn more about the two in our AngularJS vs Angular guide.

7. Sass

Web dev tools that save time are your best friend, and one of the first things you’ll learn about code is that it needs to be DRY (“Don’t Repeat Yourself”). The second thing you’ll probably learn is that CSS is usually not very DRY.

Enter the world of the CSS preprocessor, a tool that will help you write maintainable, future-proof code, all while reducing the amount of CSS you have to write (keeping it DRY).

Perhaps most popular among them is Sass, an eight-year-old open-source project which pretty much defined the genre of modern CSS preprocessors. Although a little tricky to get to grips with initially, Sass’s combination of variables, nesting, and mixins will render simple CSS when compiled, meaning your stylesheets will be more readable and (most importantly) DRY.

A developer learning a new web development tool

Final thoughts

If the idea of learning these frontend tools and setting out on a journey to become a web developer at your own pace appeals to you, I really recommend you look at our Full-Stack Web Development Program.

It’s designed to teach you the core frontend technologies from scratch, as well as you with much sought-after skills in JavaScript development, and the choice of specializations in some of the big programming skills of 2024, such as Python as well as cloud computing.

Not sure if this life is for you? Well, if you’re still considering your own career switch to web development, a great step is to take this free 5-day coding short course, to see if the life is for you. In it, you’ll learn some key frontend development skills such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, as you build your first website.

If you’re simply curious to learn more about the area itself, then some of these articles may interest you:

Frontend development tools FAQ

Is HTML a frontend tool?

Yes, HTML is a frontend tool that defines the structure and content of web pages, making it essential for building dynamic and interactive websites. It typically works alongside CSS for styling and JavaScript for adding interactivity.

Does frontend use API?

Yes, frontend developers use APIs to fetch data from external servers and incorporate it into their web applications. This allows them to create more dynamic and interactive experiences for users, without having to store all the data locally on the user’s device.

Is UX considered frontend?

Not technically—UX (user experience) is not considered frontend. UX is the overall experience that users have when interacting with a product, while frontend development is specifically responsible for creating the visual and interactive elements of a website or application. UX designers focus on user needs, usability, and accessibility, while frontend developers focus on implementing the UX design into code.

Is frontend a stack?

No, frontend development is not a specific stack, but rather a collection of technologies and tools used to build the user-facing part of a website or application. To learn more about what a stack is, check out our full guide to what a tech stack is.

What You Should Do Now

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  2. Take part in one of our FREE live online web development events with industry experts, and check out recent graduate Tanimara’s successful career-change story.

  3. Become a qualified web developer in just 5-10 months—complete with a job guarantee.

  4. This month, we’re offering a partial scholarship worth up to $1,365 off on all of our career-change programs to the first 100 students who apply 🎉 Book your application call and secure your spot now!

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