Building websites can be fun. I’m not just saying that because I work at a place that sells web hosting, I’m saying that because I’ve been making websites for over 25 years, and while things have changed from when I used to telnet directly into my student web account and open up Nano to live-edit pages, there are still some great tools out there to help you build your website.
This is the most popular code editor out there. Visual Studio Code is filled with features and has plenty of plugins to make it even easier to use. Keep your files organised, change the colour scheme depending on what language you’re coding in, and it’s integrated with Git to make version control even easier. Most of the team here uses it, and it works a treat for them. Visual Studio Code is free to download and comes in Windows, Mac, and Linux flavours.
This might not be the most popular, but it’s the one I use and I really like it. Since I’m pretty much just writing HTML emails, I don’t need a lot of bells and whistles, but I do need something that’ll let me quickly find/replace smart punctuation, make it clear what element I’m currently working in, and keep everything pretty organised for me. And Sublime Text does that so well without bogging me down in other features. If you’re a die-hard old-school coder, I really recommend it. It’s free to try out for Windows, Mac, and Linux, but you will get regularly notified that you should purchase it. The purchase price for an individual user is $99 and comes with three years of updates for a personal account.
Plain Text Editors
What? Sublime Text adds too many colours? Visual Studio makes it easy for you to forget bits of code because it debugs for you? You want to code like the wise sages of yore? Fine. Open up Notepad. It comes with your Windows machine. Have a Mac? Use TextEdit and change it to plain text. Linux? I still like Nano in the terminal.
Or go full “we die like men” programmer and learn how to use vim. The greybeards will look upon you in wonder.
Version control is a thing of sheer beauty, and if you aren’t developing with version control, you are setting yourself up for a world of pain. If at any point you say to yourself “Man, this looks like it could be really fun to implement, I’m going to try it out”, version control will save your life when it’s been 20 hours and you still don’t understand why it all works nicely except for in That One Place.
It also really helps when you’re collaborating with people, even if you’re in the same room and can talk to each other. No need to worry about something important being rewritten, everything comes together smoothly.
So you have your code editor all set up. You have version control. You know what else makes it easy to develop? A virtual space to run what you’re actually building. If it’s a web application, you can use the webspace you have for it, but then you run the risk of things becoming live when they’re not supposed to, you take up valuable space with all your test versions, and it’s just a pain. So by using Docker or VirtualBox, you can build a dev server on your computer, set it up just as you need it, and build to your heart’s content.