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The Latest Open Source Tools for Web Developers

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This article aims to acquaint readers with the trendy new open source tools for Web development. These are different from website builders and IDEs as they do not directly assist in the creation of websites. Rather, they are browser add-ons or built into browsers to test the user facing interfaces of the website or Web application.

The Web is growing exponentially nowadays. We have lots of new tools and technologies for rapid Web development, but since we can’t include everything in this article, I have put together a set of the latest tools in this domain.

Hopefully, you will find a new tool or resource that will aid you in your Web development workflow.

Angular/AngularJS
AngularJS is a JavaScript-based open source Web application framework for dynamic Web app development. It’s mainly maintained by Google, and by a community of individuals and corporations to address many of the challenges encountered in developing single-page applications. It was originally created by Google and open sourced under the MIT licence. Developed by Brat Tech LLC, Google and the community, its initial release was in 2009.

Angular 2 was released on September 14, 2016. This is not a version upgrade, but a complete rewrite of Angular 1.

Angular 2 is a development platform for building mobile and desktop Web applications. It focuses on data-binding, extensible HTML and application test ability, but it is still in the design and prototyping stage.

Its features and benefits are:

  • Speed and performance
  • Mobile oriented
  • Flexible development
  • Supports server-side pre-rendering
  • Simple and expressive
  • Comprehensive routing
  • Animations
  • Hierarchical dependency injection
  • Support for Web components
  • Internationalisation, localisation (i18n) and accessibility

Node.js
Node.js is an open source, cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment for developing a diverse variety of tools and applications. It was developed by Ryan Dahl in 2009 and its current stable version is 7.4.0. It’s built on Google Chrome’s JavaScript Engine (V8 Engine). Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that makes it lightweight and efficient. Its package ecosystem, npm, is the largest ecosystem of open source libraries in the world.

Some of the well known users of Node.js are GoDaddy, Groupon, IBM, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Netflix, PayPal, Rakuten, SAP, Voxer, Walmart, Yahoo! and Cisco Systems.

SASS
SASS (syntactically awesome style sheets) is an open source styling language that helps reduce a lot of the repetitive work and maintainability challenges of traditional CSS. It is perhaps the most mature, stable and powerful professional grade CSS extension language in the world.

SASS was initially designed by Hampton Catlin and developed by Natalie Weizenbaum. After its initial versions, Weizenbaum and Chris Eppstein continued to extend SASS with SassScript, a simple scripting language used in SASS files.

SASS is an extension of CSS, adding nested rules, variables, mixins, selector inheritance and more. It is translated to well-formatted, standard CSS using the command line tool or a Web-framework plugin.

Bootstrap
Bootstrap is a free, open source tool well known for the fast development of responsive design. It has a set of its own classes and grids, buttons, forms, navigation, containers, media queries and JavaScript extensions. Bootstrap is the most-starred project on GitHub, with over 91K stars and more than 38K forks.

GitLab
GitLab is an open source tool used by developers to create and manage code bases collaboratively. Built on Git, which is a very popular and efficient distributed version control system, GitLab gives you all the tools needed for Git repository management — from code reviews to issue tracking and more. It is developed by GitLab Inc. The software was written by Dmitriy Zaporozhets and Valery Sizov from Ukraine. Well known users of GitLab are IBM, Sony, Jülich Research Center, NASA, Alibaba, Invincea, O’Reilly Media, Leibniz-Rechenzentrum (LRZ) and CERN.

Its key features are:

  • Access to the source code
  • Fully modifiable
  • Long-term viability
  • New stable version released every month
  • Built with community support

Elasticsearch
Elasticsearch is one of the most popular, fastest-growing open source search technologies and delivers powerful search. Elasticsearch is a search engine based on Lucene. It provides a distributed, multi-tenant-capable full-text search engine with an HTTP Web interface and schema-free JSON documents. It is developed in Java and is released as open source under the Apache Licence. Elasticsearch is the most popular enterprise search engine followed by Apache Solr (as per the DB-Engines Ranking of Search Engines).

Elasticsearch uses standard RESTful APIs and JSON. It also has built-in clients in many languages such as Java, Python, .NET and Groovy, and a few more contributed by the community.

Elasticsearch was originally developed by Shay Banon. The first version of it was released in February 2010. In March 2015, the company changed its name to Elastic.

Some well-known users of Elasticsearch are Wikimedia, Adobe Systems, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Mozilla, Quora, Foursquare, SoundCloud, GitHub, Stack Exchange, Netflix and many more.

XAMPP
XAMPP is an open source, cross-platform tool which is one of the most favoured by Web developers. The full form of XAMPP is X-Cross platform, Apache, MariaDB, PHP and PERL. Earlier, it used MySQL instead of MariaDB. XAMPP is a complete package of these libraries, so developers don’t need to worry about installing and configuring PHP, MariaDB and Apache. It’s the simplest way to set up a local Web server.

Notepad++
Notepad++ is an open source text and source code editor for Microsoft Windows. It was developed by Don Ho in September 2003. Notepad++ provides tabbed editing, syntax highlighting and code folding for more than 50 programming, scripting and markup languages. It is distributed as free software. Initially, Notepad++ was hosted on SourceForge.net, from where it has been downloaded over 28 million times. It has twice won the SourceForge Community Choice Award for Best Developer Tool. Since 2015, Notepad++ has been hosted on GitHub. It has wide community support and plugins. Notepad++ also supports Macro recording and playback, Bookmark and PCRE (Perl Compatible Regular Expressions) Search/Replace.

Grunt
Grunt is a JavaScript task runner. It is built on Node.js and is available as a package via the Node package manager (npm).
When you are working on a JavaScript project, there are some tasks that you’ll do regularly, like minifying your scripts, compilation, unit testing, running JSHint on your code, etc. You can define this set of tasks in Gruntfile and run a single command from a command line interface to do these tasks. The Grunt ecosystem is huge and it’s growing every day. Presently, there are more than five thousand plugins available in the Grunt ecosystem to choose from. You can use Grunt to automate just about anything with minimum effort.

ReactJS
ReactJS is an open source JavaScript library for building user interfaces. It is developed by Facebook, Instagram and a community of individual developers and corporations. It’s used for handling the view layer for Web and mobile apps. ReactJS allows us to create reusable UI components.

  • Jimmie Williams

    Very helpful post! thank you so much for writing this great blog here for us.