Top 10 Resources For Web Development

My Top 10 Resources For Web Development

The field of Web development is always evolving with new technologies and standards being introduced rapidly. I challenge myself to learn something new daily.

If web development / marketing is your thing these resources and tools will help you stay sharp & productive.

Web Development Blogs

A List Apart
A List Apart explores the design, development, and meaning of web content, with a special focus on web standards and best practices. http://www.alistapart.com/.

Line25
Line25 is the drawing board for web creatives, presenting web design ideas and inspiration in the form of tutorials, articles and interviews. http://line25.com/.

Mashable
Ye shalt not forget about the importance of SEO and how it pertains to development and site planning. Mashable is a great resource to stay on top of SEO trends and best practices. http://mashable.com/.

Web Design Ledger
The WDL site is to act as a platform for sharing web design related knowledge and resources. Topics range from design inspiration to tips and tutorials and everything in between. http://webdesignledger.com/.

Snook
Snook post about tips, tricks and bookmarks on web development. They have some useful posts on their site, and also post about useful information in the web development community. http://snook.ca/.

Web Development Tools

JSFiddle
JsFiddle is a playground for web developers, a tool which may be used in many ways. One can use it as an online editor for snippets build from HTML, CSS and JavaScript. http://jsfiddle.net/.

CSS3 PIE
PIE stands for Progressive Internet Explorer. It is an IE attached behavior which, when applied to an element, allows IE to recognize and display a number of CSS3 properties. http://css3pie.com/.

CSS3 Generator
Build that killer site easily and quickly with help from this fully featured CSS3 code generation tool. http://css3generator.com/.

FireBug for Firefox
Firebug is a free, open source in-browser web development tool for the Firefox web browser. It’s many features include: on-the-fly HTML and CSS editing for tweaking or debugging, a Console for logging, analyzing and debugging JavaScript. http://getfirebug.com/.

^ What’s yours?

Most Helpful Res n apps for New Web Developers

It seems every month there are dozens of new applications being released. Developers are constantly working to bridge the gap between open source and open coding standards. The HTML5 and CSS3 specifications have gone a long way towards bringing a closer connection with frontend web development.

But moving forward there will be even newer techniques you’ll have to adapt with. In this article I would like to share a handful of tools that I’ve found useful working as a web developer. When you are just starting out on new projects there’s often a series of questions you think about. I hope some of these apps will prove useful in answering these questions as you delve into more complex problem solving.

1. jsFiddle

I have gotten more use out of jsFiddle than a lot of my other IDEs. This can’t replace a full code editor by any means. However for small practice projects you cannot beat the fiddle.

Even without an account you can just land on the website and start building your project. You are given 3 panels for HTML, CSS, and JS code. If you register a free account you’ll be able to save these fiddles under your name and share them with others. This is possibly the best method for testing out new techniques before applying them into a webpage.

jsFiddle webapp coding design prototypes

jsFiddle is also really powerful since it’s based in your web browser. This means you can access code from any computer with Internet, regardless of the Operating System. But it’s also a website you can tool around with for 15-20 minutes and quickly pickup the interface. This should definitely be in your developer’s toolset for any pertinent situation.

2. Koding

Now the webapp Koding is a whole lot different from jsFiddle. Currently the app is in private beta but you can drop your e-mail for a potential invite. The website behaves as a personal online code server with your own backend interface for creating new files and writing source code.

This is like having Dreamweaver accessible from any computer with Internet access. But it’s also really useful for collaboration on team resources and open source projects. The social aspect of Koding allows developers to follow each other and share their works directly between remote servers.

Koding IDE web social networking private beta invitation

When you register with a username you’ll be given your own small public web space for practice files. The default interface has a couple example scripts running in PHP, Perl, etc. Since the project is still in beta there are plenty of typical features missing. But I have quickly fallen for the elegance of this application and where it’s going in the future.

If you do have the chance I highly recommend requesting an invitation for an account. You should know if you’ve been invited within 5-7 days and the service will remain free indefinitely. This could be the perfect webapp for the future of prototyping website layouts on a small testing server.

3. Dabblet

Dabblet webapp HTML/CSS Editor online

Here we have a resource very similar to jsFiddle, but connected into the popular service Gist by Github. However Dabblet is much more extensible since your code edits will appear live as you type them. The webpage offers a clean interface for HTML/CSS code along with a preview window.

Once you register an account with Dabblet you can begin saving code snippets as new Git repos. These gists are fairly common among web developers and offer a unique way for sharing open source code. Admittedly the system is not like jsFiddle with so many complex options and settings. But this is actually perfect for newer web developers practicing HTML/CSS-based website layouts.

4. Mozilla Thimble

Another fascinating online code editor is Mozilla Thimble which has fallen out of the spotlight in recent months. Developers can build an entire webpage and publish a live demo URL to share with friends or colleagues. The preview window updates automatically as you type which is also a really nifty feature.

Mozilla Thimble web IDE editor

But you can get even more value through Thimble if you check out their existing projects library. There are about 15 unique projects you can choose to start editing as a template. These examples include landing pages and even simple HTML5 resources.

It may seem like this tool is for new younger developers, but it does provide resources beneficial to advanced users as well. It’s all about your reasons for using the IDE and what you hope to get out of the experience. Their editor is not as advanced offering code hints or autocomplete suggestions. But there is clever syntax highlighting and the live preview update is certainly a spectacle to behold.

5. CodeVisually

This website library includes almost anything you will need from tutorials to free templates and resources. Web developers are often scrounging through Google for new open source plugins or code scripts. CodeVisually is like a showcase solely dedicated to developers’ tools.

Online webapp tools CodeVisually layout

Some of the categories include templates, frameworks, mobile dev, web apps, and UI resources. You can do a search for something specific or just browse through the entire library. I have found more than a couple really cool scripts which are perfect for practicing the basics. But this is also a fantastic catalog where developers can submit their own code. If you’ve created a helpful dev resource then definitely consider submitting a link into CodeVisually to gain some marketing publicity!

6. Google Web Toolkit

The last project I’d like to reference is Google’s Web Toolkit for developers. All their tools are open free for anybody with a Google account to access. These tools include basic webpage optimization and an amazing products catalog.

Google Web Tools products and online tools

There should be more than enough links to keep you busy looking into what Google has to offer. They are certainly one of the current tech giants of industry with more engineers than ever before. And because there are so many users who enjoy their software the Google Developer’s Center has become an incredible resource for just about any topic.

Final Thoughts

There are at least a dozen more apps I didn’t mention in this article which can be found all throughout Google. But I believe these 6 resources can greatly benefit users who are not as familiar with using webapps. Working as a web developer you must stay vigilant and on top of the newest ideas online. This will keep you educated and following along the curve of trends as they unfold.

But similarly these are only tools and cannot be the 100% solution to all problems. If you’re a creative thinker you may even consider building your own small application! There are plenty of open areas with room for advancement. Similarly if you have any other apps or ideas to share you can let us know in the post discussion area.

8 Books Every Designer Should Read

It is pretty interesting to realize that at the same time that design tools and techniques are always evolving, some principles remain the same. And usually these principles are the most important ones. Today we gathered a list with eight books we believe every designer should read. Some of them are old, others new, but they all have very important things we need to keep in mind when designing something. In case you heard of these books but never had the time to read them, take your time because it is worth it. In case you never heard of them, take your time to learn more about each book and pick one (or more) to read.

Some of these books I didn’t read but I will work my way with all of them. I’ve also added a small line with my opinions on the ones I have read (small opinion, not a review). And feel free to include further book suggestions in our comments section.

Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell

About the book: Universal Principles of Design is the first cross-disciplinary reference of design. Richly illustrated and easy to navigate, this book pairs clear explanations of the design concepts featured with visual examples of those concepts applied in practice. From the 80/20 rule to chunking, from baby-face bias to Ockham’s razor, and from self-similarity to storytelling, 100 design concepts are defined and illustrated for readers to expand their knowledge.

About the author: William Lidwell is a partner and chief research and development officer at the Applied Management Sciences Institute. He writes, speaks, and consults on topics of design and engineering and is the author of multiple books including the best-selling design book Universal Principles of Design, which has been translated into 16 languages. He lives in Houston, TX.

My opinion: this is a great reference book, with its images and explanations it helps you understand a lot of concepts and ideas.

Books Suggestions

The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman

About the book: First, businesses discovered quality as a key competitive edge; next came service. Now, Donald A. Norman, former Director of the Institute for Cognitive Science at the University of California, reveals how smart design is the new competitive frontier. The Design of Everyday Things is a powerful primer on how–and why–some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them.

About the author: Don Norman is a voyeur, always watching, always on the lookout for some common-day occurrence that everyone else takes for granted but that when examined, yields insight into the human condition.

My opinion: a classic, very good to check out some nice examples of good and bad design and to understand how to design things that humans will use (and understand how to use it). ;)

Books Suggestions

Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition by Steve Krug

About the book: Five years and more than 100,000 copies after it was first published, it’s hard to imagine anyone working in Web design who hasn’t read AMweb ProAM web Pro blog” on Web usability, but people are still discovering it every day. In this second edition, Steve adds three new chapters in the same style as the original: wry and entertaining, yet loaded with insights and practical advice for novice and veteran alike. Don’t be surprised if it completely changes the way you think about Web design. With these three new chapters: Usability as common courtesy – Why people really leave Web sites; Web Accessibility, CSS, and you – Making sites usable and accessible; Help! My boss wants me to ______. – Surviving executive design whims.

About the author: Steve Krug is a usability consultant who has more than 15 years of experience as a user advocate for companies like Apple, Netscape, AOL, Lexus, and others. Based in part on the success of the first edition of Don’t Make Me Think, he has become a highly sought-after speaker on usability design.

My opinion: another classic, really interesting examples. The approach of the book is super easy to follow and will make you understand a lot about why websites fail. It is also fun to read how badly people really don’t want to think.

Books Suggestions

100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People (Voices That Matter) by Susan Weinschenk

About the book: We design to elicit responses from people. We want them to buy something, read more, or take action of some kind. Designing without understanding what makes people act the way they do is like exploring a new city without a map: results will be haphazard, confusing, and inefficient. This book combines real science and research with practical examples to deliver a guide every designer needs. With it you’ll be able to design more intuitive and engaging work for print, websites, applications, and products that matches the way people think, work, and play.

About the author: Susan Weinschenk has a Ph.D. in Psychology, and a 30-year career in applying psychology to the design of technology. She has written several books on user-centered design. Her 2008 book, Neuro Web Design: What makes them click?, published by New Riders, applies the research on neuroscience to the design of web sites. A popular speaker and presenter, her nickname is “The Brain Lady”. She is Chief of User Experience Strategy, Americas, at Human Factors International, and runs a popular blog: Whatmakesthemclick.net.

My opinion: heard good things about it, need to read it, will update this when I do.

Books Suggestions

HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites by Jon Duckett

About the book: Every day, more and more people want to learn some HTML and CSS. Joining the professional web designers and programmers are new audiences who need to know a little bit of code at work (update a content management system or e-commerce store) and those who want to make their personal blogs more attractive. Many books teaching HTML and CSS are dry and only written for those who want to become programmers, which is why this book takes an entirely new approach.

About the author: Jon Duckett has been helping companies create innovative digital solutions for over 15 years, designing and delivering web and mobile projects for small businesses and tech startups through to global brands like Diesel, Philips, Nike, Wrangler, and Xerox. During this time, he has has written and co-authored over a dozen books on web design and programming.

My opinion: another one on my “to do list.”

Books Suggestions

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

About the book: Renowned typographer and poet Robert Bringhurst brings clarity to the art of typography with this masterful style guide. Combining the practical, theoretical, and historical, this edition is completely updated, with a thorough exploration of the newest innovations in intelligent font technology, and is a must-have for graphic artists, editors, or anyone working with the printed page using digital or traditional methods.

About the author: American-born poet, book designer, typographer, historian and linguist.

My opinion: since I want to learn more about typography, definitely need to read this one.

Books Suggestions

The Grid – A Modular System For The Design And Production Of Newpapers, Magazines, And Books by Allen Hurlburt

About the book: From earliest history man’s close kinship with nature has guided him toward a sense of proportion in the shaping of his world. Just as mathematics began with the measurement of objects in harmonious relationship to each other and to space they occupied. The linkage of mathematical systems and design can be traced to the earliest cultures, and science and art have frequently found a common denominator in the search for the perfect form throughout history.

About the author: Allen Hurlburt traces many design projects to their structural solutions, making several details comprehensive to designers.

My opinion: it is impressive how a book first published in 1978 is still a great reference. Being a designer or not, if you want to understand the basics of grids, this is the book to try.

Books Suggestions

The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda

About the book: Finally, we are learning that simplicity equals sanity. We’re rebelling against technology that’s too complicated, DVD players with too many menus, and software accompanied by 75-megabyte “read me” manuals. The iPod’s clean gadgetry has made simplicity hip. But sometimes we find ourselves caught up in the simplicity paradox: we want something that’s simple and easy to use, but also does all the complex things we might ever want it to do. In The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda offers ten laws for balancing simplicity and complexity in business, technology, and design–guidelines for needing less and actually getting more.

About the author: Graphic designer, visual artist, and computer scientist John Maeda is President of the Rhode Island School of Design and founder of the SIMPLICITY Consortium at the MIT Media Lab. His work has been exhibited in Tokyo, New York, London, and Paris and is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He is the recipient of many awards, including the Smithsonian Institution National Design Award in the United States, the Raymond Loewy Foundation Prize in Germany, and the Mainichi Design Prize in Japan.

My opinion: just started this one, will update the post when I’m done.

Books Suggestions

How to Shut Off Startup Programs (Windows)

 

 

You might not even realize it, but when you first log onto your PC, dozens of programs and services are starting that you most likely don’t need. Some rear their ugly heads in the system tray (that little collection of icons next to the clock in Windows), but others run quietly in the background with you none the wiser.

Now, don’t get scared, these instructions will take you to corners of your operating system (OS) you may not have seen before, but follow our instructions below and you should notice slightly quicker performance and potentially much faster boot times.

Windows:

  • In XP select Run from the Start menu, under Vista you can hit the Windows key and “r” at the same time to bring up the Run dialog.
  • Run msconfig.
  • Select the Services tab.
  • You can safely uncheck the following services: Fast User Switching (if you only have one account on the PC), Indexing Service, Remote Registry, Smart Card, Telephony, Computer Browser (unless you have a home network), Messenger, Net Logon, Telnet, Terminal Services, NetMeeting Remote Desktop Sharing, Remote Desktop Help Session Manager, Uninterpretable Power Supply.
  • Now navigate to the Startup tab.
  • Uncheck any applications that don’t need to be running the minute you startup your computer — like AIM, iTunes Helper, and QT Task. But leave the antivirus.