Choosing Open Source Web Development Tools

Choosing Open Source Web Development Tools
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If working in a professional web development studio, designers frequently use Adobe Photoshop or Fireworks in order to create designs, while web coders and programmers frequently use Adobe Dreamweaver or some similar commercial solution. On the other hand, there are numerous individuals involved with either web design or programming (or both), working alone as contractors or freelancers. Very often, these individual contractors cannot afford such expensive solutions, such as Adobe’s products. Therefore, they must consider some cheaper or even free alternatives. Thankfully, there are some good, even great, quality open source web development tools available for them. This article reviews some of the best free solutions for both web design and programming.


For web developers, the foundation for a setting up a working environment for development is to install Apache distribution, MySQL database and PHP on a local computer, especially if working with a content management system that requires databases. Before XAMPP was released, it was very hard to install these components. Thankfully, Apache Friends created XAMPP solution which installs Apache server, MySQL and PHP with a few mouse clicks.

XAMPP is a cross-platform solution and can be downloaded here:

Aptana Studio

Aptana Studio is a fantastic cross-platform integrated development environment (IDE) for building open web applications. This solution provides numerous features frequently included in expensive commercial applications. Some of these features are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code assistance, JavaScript debugging and libraries, DOM outline view, FTP support, live preview, plugins and support for different types of projects.

Aptana Studio can be downloaded on the following link:

Firebug Firefox Extension


Although not a standalone application (being an add-on for Mozilla Firefox web browser), Firebug is an extremely useful solution which every web developer should definitely use. Since it is a Firefox add-on, it requires negligible amount of hard drive space, but on the other hand, it provides a rich set of different tools. Some of the most important tools are HTML and CSS code inspector, JavaScript debugger, DOM viewer, extension support and support for network usage analysis. Naturally, in order to use Firebug, it is required to download Mozilla Firefox web browser first.

This great Firefox add-on can be downloaded here:


Paint. net is image and photo editing software, created for Windows OS platform. Many of its features are more than enough for a large number of web designers. Some of these features are user friendly interface, layer and plugin support, regular automatic updates, different effects and filters, a wide range of different tools, etc. requires at least Microsoft’s .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 and can be downloaded here:



GNU Image Manipulation Program (abbreviated GIMP) is probably the most popular open-source solution for photo editing, image creation and digital retouching. Some of the main features are highly customizable interface, hardware support, file formats, plugin support and support for remote protocols such as FTP, HTTP and SFTP/SSH. GIMP works on all popular platforms (Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, Sun OpenSolaris and FreeBSD).

GIMP can be downloaded here:



Every list of open source web development tools should include an FTP client, since there must be a way to upload a set of website files to a live server. One of the most popular open-source FTP solutions is FileZilla. It is an FTP, FTPS and SFTP client withlots of interesting features. It is available on different platforms, it has integrated IPv6 support, it supports drag and drop method, remote file editing, directory comparison, etc.

Frequently updated, FileZilla can be downloaded at the following link:

Image Credits

(other images created by author)