Welcome to our first installment of “Programming Notes,” a column designed to help novice web designers and developers with some of the challenges that they may face. Creating and maintaining a website requires someone to be familiar with graphic design, computer programming, server administration, email administration and more. To begin, we will outline the tools that every web designer and developer should have at their disposal.
A graphics application is a computer program that allows you to create and manipulate images and graphic files. While there are many choices out there, I recommend Adobe Photoshop since it is the industry standard. When choosing a graphics application, be sure to look for web-specific features, such as image slicing (which allows you to “chop” larger images into multiple images) and export formats (at the very least, you will need to export JPG, GIF and PNG files).
A text editor is a simple program that allows you to create text files. Most operating systems will come with a text editor such as NotePad (Windows) or TextEdit (OS X), however, you may want to look into more advanced applications. A professional-grade text editor that I would recommend for web development is BBEdit, which has many features that make creating and editing code much easier.
A WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) Editor is an program that allows you to build websites visually and writes the code for you. My recommendation for all novice web developers is to become familiar with Macromedia Dreamweaver. In my experience, this is the most robust application available to web developers and has many integrated features that make web development easier.
An FTP client is an application that allows you to send files via FTP (File Transfer Protocol). In order to publish a website to a web server, you will need to use this FTP client to transfer the files. There are many FTP applications available for free, such as WS-FTP for Windows, and some operating systems, such as OS X, have FTP capabilities built in.
With these simple tools, you are ready to learn how to design and develop websites. Next month, we will look at some web-based server administration tools that are available.