Website development is a wonderfully rewarding profession, but at times it can be a massive pain in the neck. With our compiled list of smart online tools, we can help you reduce the pain levels considerably.
We’ve all had to hunt down that spurious bracket in a piece of code that took hours to find. Trying to remember a particular piece of CSS syntax, which you only remember after searching online for 20 minutes. Faffing around with emails, files, servers, images – it all takes time.
Over the years I have come across resources that are so simple, yet so effective, they just make our lives as web developers easier. They are in no particular order, and they might not all be relevant to you, but they have all individually saved me hours of time over the years and I thought it was about time that I compiled a definitive list to share.
Some are free, some are paid for – all are worth taking the time to check out and bank for a rainy day. You never know when one of these beauties will come to your rescue saving you hours of dead time. On with the list…
Web Development Tools That Rock
We’ve all been there. One small typo in a .htaccess file which brings your website down? Htaccess check is a simple online checker which will validate that your .htaccess lines are free of any syntax errors.
Simply paste your .htaccess code into the big textbox and get a report about any syntax errors in your file, including line number and reason (up to 5,000 lines permitted)
This is especially helpful for finding spaces or dots that shouldn’t be in the .htaccess file which will otherwise produce a 500 internal server error and you have no idea where to start looking to find the problem.
Cut an paste your htaccess file into the large text box and enter the URL you want to monitor. It’ll then show you which rule in the htaccess file has been matched.
If you’ve got multiple or contradictory redirects then this tool shows you which one is kicking in which is a life saver if you are overseeing a large site migration or a complex seo project.
This little tool allows you to see if a 301 redirect is kicking in, which is difficult to do in your browser as caching confuses the issue. It will also give you insight, as well as a visual representation, of redirect chains, 301 to 301 to 302 to 200.
These chains can give you speed issues, as well as affect your SEO rankings so it’s always a good idea to shut them down at source when you get the chance.
With up to 10 redirects handled, you simply need to hover over the status codes to see the details of a redirect location. Other status codes show full HTTP response headers.
Are you are getting an error when viewing a URL on your machine? If so, this simple tool will check if it is a problem for everyone, or just for you.
Enter your URL in the form above to receive information about your site speed, specifically the Time To First Byte. You get a report back which includes everything from the Namelookup time to the Connection or Redirect time. You also receive information on the size of the Header and the Request.
Helpful for diagnosing if a slowly loading site is because of large images, HTML, CSS, code, database, etc or just a slow connection to the server.
Rapidly test your website for cross browser compatibility across more than 1000 browsers. Very handy to rapidly the check compatibility of your website in all the relevant modern browsers. Be careful not too look too far back into browser history or you will drive yourself mad trying to implement the necessary fixes!
GTmetrix gives you insight on how well your site loads using Google Pagespeed and Yslow as benchmarks. It also provides you with some actionable recommendations on how to optimise your website. Get into green on mobile and desktop and you are flying.
This is a validator for syndicated feeds. It works with all the latest RSS versions as well as validating Atom feeds. Handy if you are creating RSS feeds from your DB and quickly need to validate your formatting.
“Can I use” provides up-to-date browser support tables for current and past support of front-end web technologies on desktop and mobile web browsers.
Will very quickly let you know, for example, if you can use a particular CSS feature on IE10.
Talking to a client about a particular bug and want to understand what their individual machine setup is? Ask them to open up Support Details and send you email from the homepage – all their specific setup details will be in the email you receive. Simple.
Create cross browser favicons at the click of a few buttons and check how they look in different browsers. Extremely useful when the website designers have forgotten to give you an image to use.
Sass/SCSS online previewer
Pingdom makes it easy to monitor your websites and servers. Get alerts when your website is down and insights to its performance and functionality.
Very handy SMS feature for immediate alerts, although getting an SMS from Pingdom equals bad news =[
RegExr is an online tool to learn, build, & test Regular Expressions. Helpful no matter what your current RexEx level.
Results are updated in real-time as you type and you can hover over a match or expression for further details. Neat.
Stuck trying to iron out a bug. You won’t have been the first person to ever experience your particular issue. The Stack Overflow community is huge and extremely responsive. Someone, somewhere will be able to help you out.
An obvious inclusion but we use it so much it had to make the list.
PHPminiadmin is an extremely lightweight alternative to heavy phpMyAdmin for quick and easy access MySQL databases. Upload a single 30kb file to your server and you will be up and running in under a minute. It’s that simple.
Accessed through your favourite browser you will quickly be able to browse and manage data tables, import and export data and check permissions and server statistics.
You’ll also get a handy report on your certificate.
The SSL Checker will help you diagnose problems with your SSL certificate installation.
You can verify the SSL certificate on your web server to make sure it is correctly installed, valid, trusted and doesn’t give any errors to any of your users.
whatsmydns.net lets you instantly perform a DNS lookup to check a domain names current IP address and DNS record information against multiple name servers located in different parts of the world.
This allows you to check the current state of DNS propagation after having made changes to your domains records, which is very helpful as it rules out your own ISPs cache when trying to diagnose issues.
You look up a site but don’t know who hosts it. Get the IP address, look it up here and you’ll see the hosting provider’s name.
These guys also provide everything you might need in order to seamlessly integrate the DB-IP API into your internal applications.
Traffic Truffle creates powerful data insight out of your anonymous website visitors. Using a ‘secret algorithm’, public data sources and social media connections they create a list of your website visitors and let you know what they have been doing on your website.
There is then an impressive upgrade which allows you to communicate with your visitors via an interactive bubble pop-up, based on things like:
- number of pages visited
- what sector they are from
- which ‘hot pages’ they have looked at
Test the spaminess of your email address. The results are almost always very interesting!
Handy for for showing whether you’ve set up DKIM and SPF records correctly. If these are wrong or missing then your emails will always go to spam.
ThrowAwayMail is a disposable email address service. When you visit ThrowAwayMail.com a new email address is generated just for you.
The generated email address can immediately receive email. Any email that is received will show up on the main page. No one other than you will see the emails that are received.
All email expires after 48hrs.
An extremely handy email migration tool when moving from one provider to another.
Put in login details for both old and new accounts and then sit back. It migrates both emails and folders.
Quickly verify your email data to gain insight into the quality and deliverability for each contact.
You will more than likely get banned by Mail Chimp, or similar, if you upload a batch of email addresses with a lot of bounces. This tool lets you verify all the email addresses and they tell you whether the address will bounce, is dubious or active.
Pixlr Editor is a robust browser photo editor, which covers pretty much all your basic photo or image editing needs, including layers and effects.
Extremely powerful Visual Website Optimiser. Everything you need to take your website to the next level including website testing and experimentation, analysis and reporting, heat maps and click maps, targeting and personalisation and research and user feedback.
Sending large files backwards and forwards with clients? No need to upload to FTP any more. WeTransfer lets you send up to 2gb worth of data for free. Select your file, add email recipients and hit send. Easy.
A powerful GUI platform to make your API development faster & easier, from building API requests through testing, documentation and sharing.
Search Replace DB allows you to carry out database wide search and replace action that won’t damage PHP serialised strings or objects. It has a basic, but user friendly, interface.
Download the zip file, extract the folder called search-replace-db-master. Rename this folder to something secret of your choosing, upload it via FTP to your web server’s public facing directory, then navigate to that folder in your browser.
Once you’ve made a search, ensure that you 100% confident all is correct before committing the change to the DB – there is no going back!
So there you have it. We use most of these sites in any given month. The ones we use less regularly save us a huge amount of time when they are called into action.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what we’ve included. Have I missed out a tool that you rely on heavily in your day to day life as a website developer?
If so, drop me a line and, if we like it, I will get it added to the list.