Ten Pop­u­lar Open Source Tools for Web De­vel­op­ers

Web ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment is a dy­namic and chal­leng­ing field. Here’s a quick look at ten cut­ting-edge Web ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment tools that can make the job of de­vel­op­ers a lot eas­ier.

OpenSource For You - - Contents - By: Vivek Ratan The au­thor is a B. Tech in elec­tron­ics and in­stru­men­ta­tion en­gi­neer­ing. He cur­rently works as an au­to­ma­tion test en­gi­neer at In­fosys, Pune, and can be reached at ratan­vivek14@gmail.com.

The best as well as, per­haps, the worst part of be­ing a Web de­vel­oper is that Web ap­pli­ca­tions are con­stantly chang­ing, be it in terms of the com­plex­ity of the ap­pli­ca­tion or the tech­nol­ogy used. While this makes the task of Web de­vel­op­ers quite ex­cit­ing, it also means that they must al­ways be up-to-date on new tech­niques or pro­gram­ming lan­guages, should eas­ily adapt to changes, and also be will­ing and ea­ger to ac­cept new chal­lenges. This may in­clude var­i­ous tasks such as:

Chang­ing the ex­ist­ing frame­works to meet sev­eral busi­ness re­quire­ments

Test­ing a Web ap­pli­ca­tion to iden­tify tech­ni­cal glitches Scaling and op­ti­mis­ing a web­site to per­form bet­ter with the given back-end in­fra­struc­ture

Im­prove the user ex­pe­ri­ence for the web­site and make it more user friendly

Ful­fil dif­fer­ent user re­quire­ments

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent ‘Fu­ture of Open Source’ sur­vey from Black Duck Soft­ware, 65 per cent of or­gan­i­sa­tions use dif­fer­ent open source soft­ware. Fur­ther, open source Web de­vel­op­ment tools are ac­tu­ally the third-most com­mon type of open source soft­ware be­ing used by busi­nesses (just af­ter op­er­at­ing sys­tems and data­bases) nowa­days. Lou Ship­ley, pres­i­dent and CEO of Black Duck, notes in one of the re­ports that open source is ac­tu­ally the way ap­pli­ca­tions are be­ing de­vel­oped to­day. One of the ma­jor rea­sons for this is that open source soft­ware is avail­able free of cost. Also, there is a large com­mu­nity base as­so­ci­ated with dif­fer­ent open source tools, which makes their main­te­nance and op­ti­mi­sa­tion quite easy.

At a time when web­sites are get­ting more com­plex, de­vel­op­ers need more ad­vanced and so­phis­ti­cated Web de­vel­op­ment tools for their tasks. There are al­ready plenty of such open source tools avail­able in the mar­ket and ad­vanced op­tions are con­stantly be­ing in­tro­duced. A proper un­der­stand­ing of these Web ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment tools will help de­vel­op­ers com­plete their tasks bet­ter and faster. So here’s a quick look at some pop­u­lar open source tools or frame­works for Web app de­vel­op­ment.


An­gu­larJS is widely used to build dif­fer­ent dy­namic Web apps. Ba­si­cally a JavaScript frame­work, it is mostly used to build sin­gle page Web apps. It also helps with the data bind­ing and fil­ters us­ing HTML at­tributes. It sup­ports DOM (Data Ob­ject Model) han­dling, forms and form val­i­da­tion. This open source tool was de­vel­oped by Brat Tech LLC un­der an MIT li­cence and later made open source. First re­leased in 2009, An­gu­larJS is now main­tained by Google.

For more help: https://an­gu­larjs.org/


Node.js is built us­ing the V8 JavaScript en­gine of Google. It is a JavaScript run­time en­vi­ron­ment, which is widely used to de­velop the server side of Web apps. This open source cross­plat­form tool fa­cil­i­tates faster and ef­fi­cient app de­vel­op­ment. It makes use of the non-block­ing and event-driven in­put/ out­put model for a much bet­ter de­vel­op­ment process. Node.js was ini­tially re­leased in 2009.

For more help: https://nodejs.org/en/


Brack­ets is an ed­i­tor that was de­vel­oped by Adobe. Writ­ten in JavaScript, HTML and CSS, it is a widely used open source

code ed­i­tor for JavaScript, CSS and HTML. It’s easy to have a com­plete pre­view of the ed­i­tor, which as­sists in mak­ing the Web app de­vel­op­ment process smarter. It was ini­tially re­leased in 2014.

For more help: http://brack­ets.io/


Boot­strap is an open source Web ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment tool that’s used to build re­spon­sive de­signs. It is avail­able free of cost, and comes with a set of grids and classes, but­tons, forms, con­tain­ers, JavaScript ex­ten­sions, nav­i­ga­tion and me­dia queries. One of the most pop­u­lar projects on GitHub, it has more than 38,000 forks and 91,000 stars.

For more help: http://get­boot­strap.com/


LESS is an open source style sheet lan­guage, which has a syn­tax sim­i­lar to that of CSS. It is the pre-pro­ces­sor of CSS. We can speed up the Web app de­vel­op­ment process us­ing LESS as it comes with a num­ber of out­stand­ing fea­tures like mak­ing CSS ex­tend­able, the­me­able and main­tain­able. Other amaz­ing fea­tures in­clude func­tions vari­ables, mix­ins and some other im­por­tant tech­niques.

For more help: http://less­css.org/


Atom is one of the best open source text edi­tors one can find right now. We can eas­ily carry out dif­fer­ent cross­plat­form edit­ing work with it. With Atom, the de­vel­op­ment of Web apps be­comes much quicker as it has the sup­port of An­gu­larJS, Jshint, a built-in pack­age man­ager, smart au­to­com­ple­tion, turbo-JavaScript, and Atom TypeScript.

For more help: https://atom.io/


Notepad++ is an open source tool that works as the source code and text ed­i­tor for Mi­crosoft Win­dows. With the help of Notepad++, we can of­fer code fold­ing, syn­tax high­light­ing and tabbed edit­ing for more than 50 mark-up, script­ing and pro­gram­ming lan­guages. Notepad++ comes with a large num­ber of plug­ins and also has huge com­mu­nity sup­port. It of­fers sup­port for play­back and macro record­ing, and in­cludes PCRE search/re­place and book­marks.

For more help: https://notepad-plus-plus.org/


XAMPP is a pop­u­lar cross-plat­form tool. It used MySQL in­stead of Mari­aDB in the ear­lier days. With XAMPP, it is quite easy to in­stall and con­fig­ure PHP, Mari­aDB and Apache, as it has a com­plete pack­age of its li­braries. This is one of the best ways to set up your lo­cal Web server.

For more help: https://www.apachefriends.org/


Fire­bug is one of the im­por­tant tools be­ing used to­day. An ex­ten­sion for Mozilla Fire­fox, it helps in car­ry­ing out tasks on a live Web page—like de­bug­ging as well as edit­ing HTML, JavaScript and CSS. This open source tool was de­vel­oped by Joe He­witt and it comes with a va­ri­ety of fea­tures, such as:

Man­ag­ing cook­ies

Tweak­ing CSS for per­fec­tion

Find­ing er­rors quickly

Check­ing the DOM

In­spect­ing and edit­ing the HTML sec­tion

Mon­i­tor­ing the ac­tiv­ity on the net­work

Visu­al­i­sa­tion of CSS met­rics

For more help: http://get­fire­bug.com/


Em­ber.js, de­vel­oped by Ye­huda Katz as an open source JavaScript frame­work, is ac­tu­ally based on the MVC (Model-View-Con­troller) pat­tern. This frame­work is widely used to de­sign sin­gle page web­sites, while be­ing fairly com­pe­tent in de­vel­op­ing com­plex Web apps, too. It can be used on mul­ti­ple plat­forms.

For more help: https://www.em­berjs.com/

All the ten op­tions dis­cussed here have some pre­coded and pre-con­fig­ured fea­tures that we can use to make pro­gram­ming easy. These, of course, are just a few among all the avail­able op­tions.


[1] http://www.wikipedia.org/ [2] https://www.we­blinein­dia.com [3] http://www.world­webtech­nol­ogy.com/ [4] https://www.techre­pub­lic.com

Fig­ure 1: The Web ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment process flow (Im­age source: Googleim­ages.com)

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