Webmasters and developers don’t need a whole lot of money to spend on tools in order to work efficiently and be productive. Here is a list of free tools that help me run my everyday webmaster chores.
Dreamweaver and such designing tools might have become very advanced in the recent years but I am still far from satisfied with them. I prefer to do the coding with a simple text editor and be in total control of the code and not end up with unnecessarily long code. Recently I discovered Notepad++ which has the few bells and whistles that are desired by hard core programmers such as code highlighting, webmastershall Regular Expression Search/Replace support, capability to extend functionality with plugins and nice depository of contributed ones. Worth your attention.
If you are like me and don’t use WYSIWYG editors to do your HTML/CSS designs then you are probably need or are already using a standalone FTP client to upload/download files to and from your server. Filezilla is a free tool that I have been using for some time and has not failed me. New version 3 has lots of new features, if you are FTPing stuff often maybe you should check it out.
XAMPP is an apache server distribution that integrates php, mysql, phpmyadmin and a bunch of other great open source projects into an easy installation. It can be used on production servers to host one’s sites but I mostly use it locally to code and test my html/css/php projects. Its easier to develop locally because there is no need to upload files on servers every time, and only upload when your project is complete. It can be installed on Windows/Linux and lots of other platforms and if you are serious about developing you should get it installed in your computer and start playing with it.
Google analytics is a free website statistics package that anyone can easily integrate into their website in a few minutes. Analytics once installed on your website it gathers data and presents you with reports about which sites your visitors come from, what country they live in, how long they stayed on your site, which pages were more popular and a whole lot of reports that you will likely not need another statistics package for you site. Those statistics are vital to the progress of any site in order to understand a site’s audience and find things that might need to be improved. You can create as many analytics accounts as you like (unlimited number of sites) as long as your total pageviews don’t exceed the monthly allowance of 5 million.
Mozilla Firefox is not only a great browser to surf with. Firefox was build with extensibility in mind and has given developers a way to extent its functionality with add-ons. Add-ons can enhance the capabilities of Firefox and enhance the browsing experience. There is a whole lot of add-ons in the Mozilla repository that can help you with task such as bookmarking, searching, social interaction, developing, news reading, downloading to name just a few categories. Some of the following favorite tools of mine are actually Mozilla Add-ons. Its definitely worth your attention.
Seoquake is a Mozilla add-on that was created with the SEO professionals in mind. It will help you gather important statistics about a website or web page with the touch of a button. Such statistics include PageRank, indexed pages, Google backlinks, Cached date etc. One can also extend it/configure it to gather other important statistics from online services not already included in it.
Gimp is an open source image manipulation package that can help you with photo retouching, image composition, format conversion and animations among other things. Its not likely to replace adobe photoshop any time soon but its a free alternative that has found many followers and through its plugin architecture promises to built the only image manipulation tool you will ever need. Some of its features are presented in a way of a presentation but nothing can convince you better than to actually install it and try it on your own.
Drupal is a content management system much like wordpress but a lot more extensible. WordPress is a good CMS (content management system) for simple sites and even though it has many plugins to extend its capabilities I would not recommend building anything other than a blog with it. Drupal on the other hand was built in such a way to be extensible. A programmer digging in its code will appreciate its flexibility, code quality, and modular design and simplicity for writing a new module. Drupal is was build from the ground up a tool for building community sites, and as a result it has many features to support such sites but it is also capable for supporting standard websites. Its learning curve is quite steep but it pays off in the end. Worth more than a look from you.
Giorgos Kontopoulos is a web consultant from Greece. He is one of the authors of GeoLand.org where he can often be found blogging about issues related to web development and search engine optimization. This article on free webmaster tools was originally posted on GeoLand.org