15 Front-End Development Tools You Should Be Using

Developer being surrounded by different web development tools

As with building a house or fixing a car, creating a website requires that you have the right tools for the job. There are countless web developer tools to choose from, and it’s hard to say which is the best. No one software suite fits every type of development scenario.

Full-stack development is required for fully functional websites that consumers will want to revisit. The front end, also known as the client side, should be developed using the latest coding tools. Many businesses hire experts who have both technical experience and eyes for design to create a responsive website that stands out.

Still, some businesses prefer the DIY approach. This may be because a company has the right in-house talent to undertake such a task. If you’re making a website, several factors will help you choose the best front-end development tools. 

Choosing the Right Set of Tools

Over the years, site-building tools have gone from simpler HTML constructors to robust packages that are teeming with snippets of code in the background. Instead of just static pages, these web destinations allow for interactive material, dropdown lists, scrolling features, and animations.

When deciding on the best web developer tools, it’s important to consider your (or your team’s) expertise. A tool with features you love may end up as a thorn in your side if you aren’t experienced with the necessary coding language.

A combination of Javascript, HTML, and CSS tools is typically best for front-end development. Other technologies are also popular, such as TypeScript—which is a superset of JavaScript (JS). Both TypeScript and JS have an adoption rate of over 67% in the developer community. 

Google’s Dart is also a fast-growing alternative. Whatever the choice of coding language, there’s almost certainly a tool that makes use of it. Here are some of the popular ones.

  1. Notepad++

The most basic front-end development tool is an editor to write and read code. Following GitHub’s decision to sunset Atom at the end of 2022, Notepad++ has grown even more popular as a clean, lightweight, open-source text editor. It supports many programming languages, and it’s both approachable for a newbie coder and customizable for more experienced developers. If you need a feature that you can’t find natively, there’s likely an easy plugin for it. Perhaps most importantly, it’s free! 

  • Free and open-source
  • Multiple language support, such as Python, C++, and HTML
  • Extensive knowledge base and numerous plugins
  • Fits any experience level

Platforms: Windows

The biggest downside to Notepad++ is that it isn’t available on iOS. Mac users can make use of similar programs such as Brackets.

  1. Chrome DevTools
Homepage for Google Chrome Development

If you already use Chrome, this is a no-brainer. Google’s tools are built into its browser. This integration allows for seamless usage in the console. There are multiple ways of accessing DevTools while in Chrome, including the use of hotkeys. Hit control+shift+J (command+option+J on a Mac).

The in-browser testing is a plus, and debugging is fairly straightforward. These are just some of the long list of features:

  • Developer tools integrated into Google’s Chrome browser
  • Auditing for improving website speed
  • Debugging for Document Object Model (DOM), CSS, and Javascript
  • Ability to inspect a page’s network activity

Platforms: Platform independent. Specific to Chrome browser.

  1. Angular

Angular is another of many front-end development tools that is an open-source framework. It defaults to TypeScript but can also support Dart and JavaScript. It is popular for building websites, mobile websites, mobile apps, and desktop applications. It’s a powerful tool while also being easy to work with.

  • Successor to the popular AngularJS
  • Support for Progressive Web Apps
  • Framework for turning templates into code

Platforms: Platform independent and multiple browsers supported.

  1. Visual Studio Code

Microsoft Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is a source code editor. Both the free and paid versions of Visual Studio have been around for quite a few years and offer some of the broadest support for programming languages.

VS Code is packed with features, and many consider it one of the best developer tools available—web or otherwise. The various Microsoft dev tools are some of the most extensively documented and supported on the market. The caveat here is that VS Code is not meant for beginners. It has a steep learning curve, but with the right coding prowess, it’s both powerful and versatile.

  • A free open-source editor from Microsoft
  • Default support for Typescript and JavaScript, plus extensible for multiple languages (C#, Dart, Python, Ruby, and more)
  • Powerful and intuitive debugging capability
  • Highly customizable and extensible

Platforms: Windows, Mac, and Linux.

  1. Web.com

Rather than just development tools, Web.com offers front-end website-building services for millions of subscribers. They provide tools for everything from simple webs to ecommerce sites. The target audience is primarily small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). 

Web.com is perhaps best described as a web developer tool for non-developers. The easy-to-use interface is similar to those offered by other services like Wix and Shopify. It’s a popular approach to building sites, though it can lack the unique customizations other tools provide.

  • Easy drag-and-drop designing
  • Hosting available
  • DIY tools and services like these are ideal for less experienced developers

Platforms: Platform independent.

  1. Git

Git is a popular version control software that is both free and open source. It’s known to be easy to learn while providing good performance. Most are familiar with the “Git” name, as it relates to GitHub, which is a cloud hosting service for Git projects.

A visual representation of Git’s version control system

Because it’s a distributed version control system, Git allows for shared changes and the merging or branching of those changes. In other words, you can go down a long rabbit trail of experimentation without deleting your master file. It’s considered one of the best at version control and compliments a variety of web developer tools.

  • Free and open source
  • One of the market’s most widely used version control systems
  • Known for easy debugging and testing

Platforms: Windows, Mac, and Linux.

  1. Sass

Sass has been around for a while. It’s a CSS preprocessor tool that extends the functionality of standard CSS ability to help developers work more efficiently. If you have a big project, Sass is a front-end development tool that will make your life much easier. It’s packed with features, used in building multiple CSS frameworks, and it has gathered a loyal following over the years.

  • One of the oldest and most widely used CSS preprocessors
  • Allow automation of tasks, code variables, and nested rules
  • Compatible with all versions of CSS

Platforms: Windows, Mac, and Linux.

  1. CodePen

CodePen is an online development environment that’s a bit different from other tools. It’s considered an online community where code snippets, known as “pens,” are created and tested. It’s a popular destination for those eager to showcase their talent while also learning from others.

  • Online development environment
  • Allows viewing and live testing of code
  • Drag-and-drop features for developing
  • A staging environment for testing and learning

Platforms: Platform independent.

  1. Sublime Text

Sublime Text is an editor that works cross-platform and supports multiple languages. Some of the languages can run in the editor for testing. There are similarities to VS Code as an editor, though the Microsoft tool goes beyond the editor functionality. 

Sublime Text is easy to navigate, has an improved syntax highlighting system, and can utilize hardware acceleration for a smoother UI experience. It’s a step up from something like Notepad++ in terms of visual complexity, which may be good or bad depending on your goals. There’s both a free and paid version to choose from.

  • Text editor that utilizes tabs and a split editing mode
  • Can use the GPU of Mac, Linux, and Windows for smoother rendering
  • Support for Javascript ecosystem and Python API
  • Includes default support for TypeScript

Platforms: Windows, Mac, and Linux.

  1. WordPress

It would seem wrong to have a list of the best web developer tools without mentioning WordPress. After all, it’s been around for nearly two decades. 

While many will consider it a full content management system (CMS), its front-end capabilities are impressive. As a CMS, it certainly holds an impressive 64.1% share of the market while powering over a third of the web.

As for web-building, WordPress has plenty to offer. The front-end tools were designed with ease of use in mind. The sheer amount of plugins is exhaustive. There are features for drag-and-drop design, real-time editing, scalability, and responsiveness—to name just a few.

  • Easy to customize with the vast availability of plugins
  • Drag-and-drop editing option
  • Built primarily around CSS, HTML, and JavaScript
  • Long history with a vast following of developers and users

Platforms: Platform independent.

  1. Bootstrap

Bootstrap was created by Twitter and is a front-end development toolkit that has a mobile-first approach to web design. It’s a basic framework that incorporates an enhanced grid system and utilizes HTML and CSS for core web design. You can complement it with JavaScript extensions as well.

The name of the tool comes from the term “bootstrap”, which means a smaller system that boots up a larger one. This summarizes the tool Bootstrap in that it’s a simple modularized design that allows for adding additional features to it—as needed.

  • Utilizes Sass for its modular architecture
  • Has a design grid system with breakpoints
  • JavaScript can be implemented via data attributes in HTML
  • Mobile-friendly and simple to use

Platforms: Mac, Windows, and Linux.

  1. HTML5 Boilerplate

HTML5 Boilerplate is essentially what it sounds like—a front-end template for using HTML5 to create websites. It helps developers get started with projects and can be imported into front-end development tools such as VS Code and Bootstrap.

  • Replicate and reuse code with minimal changes
  • Cross-browser compatible
  • Optimized for mobile devices

Platforms: Platform independent.

  1. React

React, also known as React.js, is a JavaScript library that is open-source. It’s maintained by Meta and a community of developers. It’s considered easy to use and learn. React is perhaps best suited for UI layer development that can complement other tools.

  • Known for its creative and complex UIs
  • Utilizes virtual DOM for performance improvements
  • SEO-friendly design

Platforms: Platform independent.

  1. WebStorm

Webstorm is a JavaScript library that provides coding support for other languages and frameworks like JavaScript, TypeScript, Node.js, Angular, and others. It has a smart editor that allows for code completion, quality analysis, and code refactoring. Its assistance in writing code faster is useful for large projects.

  • Integrated dev tools for testing and debugging
  • Smart editor features for writing and restructuring code
  • Enhanced project navigation and search features
  • Collaboration features for developing as a team
  • Can be customized to coding styles

Platforms: Windows, Mac, and Linux.

  1. Foundation
The front-end tool Foundation’s development website

Foundation by the organization ZURB is a framework that runs in the browser. It’s built around the core components of web development (CSS, HTML, and JavaScript). It has a mobile-first approach to web design and focuses on clean markup.

Foundation allows fast prototyping with components such as block grids, forms, and source ordering. It has often been compared to the capabilities of Bootstrap. 

  • Foundation XY grid focuses on mobile-first design
  • Time-saving UI components
  • Allows building multilingual sites for right-to-left languages

Platforms: Platform independent.

Tools for a Variety of Development Needs

As you’ve probably noticed, front-end development tools come in all forms. Projects can vary, and one job may require different tools than the one before it. Websites can take different approaches to how they look, what functionality they provide, or how complex they become overall.

With most businesses having or needing to have a website, there’s plenty of room for possibility. About 71% of small businesses have built a website, and that number should keep rising. Along with that, the tools will continue to evolve.

The list above is hardly exhaustive and only represents the different facets of tools used. There are the raw tools for writing the code, ones for providing versioning control, services for making web design easy, and even environments for improving the craft.

You’ll likely use more than one and will probably switch tools as needed. Every scenario can be a unique experience for a developer, and it’s best to use the tools that fit the web project.  In the end, choose the tool that makes sense.

Choices Beyond the Tools

Even with the best front-end development tools, complex web designing jobs require skill and creative craftsmanship. If you or your team has those traits, then there should be smooth sailing to creating that next spectacular website experience.

For the rest, there are plenty of companies that have professionals ready to help. Take a look over the list and find one that suits you. Then feel free to browse BESTWEB’s articles to learn more about web design and other interesting topics.