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Open Source Tools for Web Development

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 10/2/2009

Web development tools can be expensive and may not fit the budget of every web developer. Fortunately, there are free and open source tools in the market today that compete equally with their commercial counterparts and provide developers with a cost effective option for web development.

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    Free Open Source Web Development Tools

    Web development needs many types of tools like a code editor or IDE, graphics software, an FTP application, a debugging tool, and so forth. The commercial tools are usually very expensive and don’t fit the budget of many developers. However, there are free and open source alternatives available for most of the commercial tools that you can use to set up your web development envrionment. Let’s take a look at few of them.


    Aptana Studio is an open source and free IDE for building Ajax web applications. It supports HTML, JavaScript, DOM and CSS. It has features like code completion, JavaScript debugging, integrated documentation, etc.. Its functionalities can be extended through plug-ins.


    Quanta Plus is a free and open source IDE for web development. It is based on KDE and is capable of both WYSIWYG design and manual coding. Quanta is part of the Kdewebdev package in KDE and it is tightly integrated with other applications of the same package. It has many useful features like use of templates, project management, and support for plug-ins.


    Nvu is a free web development tool that is also open source. It makes the task of building a website easy using its WYSIWYG editor. Nvu is gaining popularity steadily and its rich features along with the free price tag makes it a real alternative to more popular web authoring tools like Adobe Dreamweaver for users with a tight budget.


    Amaya is an open source web editor from W3C. It is different from other editors in the sense that it is used to create and update documents directly on the web. Amaya also includes a collaborative annotation application which is based on Resource Description Framework, XLink and XPointer.


    GIMP is an open source graphics application and is the most popular choice as a free alternative to Adobe Photoshop. GIMP, although lacking many features and functionalities that Adobe Photoshop sports, comes very close to matching the capabilities of Adobe Photoshop. Like Photoshop, it supports layers, filters, and brushes, and its functionalities can be extended with the help of plug-ins.


    JsUnit is an open source JavaScript unit testing framework. It also includes a platform to automate the execution of tests on multiple browsers and multiple machines running different operating systems.


    cssed is an open source GTK2 application that helps you create CSS style sheets for web development. This application is an editor and validator. cssed has features like syntax highlighting and validation, insertion of quick CSS properties and values and insertion of CSS complex values through dialog based interface. cssed even has support for HTML,XML, JavaScript, and PHP files and also for languages like Python and Perl so that it can serve as a multipurpose editor. cssed also supports plug-ins scripted with Python that can extend its functionalities.


    FileZilla is an open source FTP solution. It is one of the most widely used FTP applications today. FileZilla is easy to use and supports FTP, FTP over SSL/TLS (FTPS) and SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), and it also has support for IPv6. FileZilla supports resume and transfer of large files. It has useful features like bookmarks, drag & drop support, directory comparison, remote file editing, synchronized directory browsing, remote file search etc. All in all, this is the best free and open source FTP application that I would recommend any day.