By July 29, 2020

12 Front End Tools Web Developers Can Use To Save Tons of Time

front end toolsWith the growing popularity of web applications, developers and organizations are constantly looking for solutions to save development time so that the time can be used to produce more and more code. With that idea in mind, the most important consideration in how to choose the right technology stack for your web app is making use of the most efficient tools.

The front end and the back end are two vastly different areas, and I believe one article would be too short to cover all aspects of web development. For that reason, I’ll talk about only the front end development technologies here.

A lot of enterprises find themselves confused when choosing the best front end technology for their business. Even those wanting to start a career in web development are sometimes baffled by the alternatives available to them. Here are the tools I’ve used successfully; they are the most dominant and relevant front end tools developers can use for quick and effective web development.

AngularJS/Angular 2+

If you’re looking for a robust framework to develop Rich Internet Applications (RIA), AngularJS tops the list. Launched in 2009, AngularJS is an open-source, structural framework for creating cross-platform web applications. This framework uses JavaScript to create client-side applications in a clean MVC way. Moreover, through the extension of HTML to web applications, AngularJS facilitates data binding capacity, which results in a rich and responsive user experience.

A successor to AngularJS, Angular 2+ versions are also very popular and more relevant for today’s front end needs. Angular boasts some of the industry’s finest features. Its dependency injection enables easy testing, while the reusable components facilitate more functionality with minimum coding. The framework also contains numerous templates and features such as deep-linking, server communication, and filters.

BackboneJS

BackboneJS is a lightweight JavaScript library that specializes in building client-side SPAs with superior design and less coding. Its models are paired with key-value binding and custom events. This particular ability gives a strong structure to the applications.

BackboneJS exchanges information through events, thereby making your code cleaner, nicer, and easy to maintain. Using this simple library, you can separate business and user interface logic. This separation makes coding simple and organized for you. In other words, it acts as a “backbone” for any project. It also allows you to manage the data model and present that data on the server-side in the same format as the client-side.

Bootstrap

Twitter launched this front-end focused library back in 2011. Bootstrap is an open-source tool-kit for faster development of highly responsive designs. The library has a 12-column grid layout and is compatible with multiple platforms.

Bootstrap is full of design templates based on HTML, CSS, Leaner Style Sheets (LESS), Syntactically Awesome Stylesheets (SASS), and JavaScript Extensions (optional). With these templates, you can incorporate various features in your applications such as progress bars, dropdowns, navigation, and many more.

Since it is quite easy to learn, a lot of developers use this library for their projects. You only need a basic understanding of HTML and CSS to get started. Furthermore, most developers find it very simple to customize.

Chrome DevTools

front end toolsWeb development comes with its own share of problems that might be daunting for developers. You may encounter issues while adding a new feature or updating an existing one. These issues can be solved with the help of development tools. Chrome DevTools are web authoring and debugging tools built right into the Chrome browser.

These tools empower you to implement changes in the Document Object Model (DOM) as well as the page style. Chrome DevTools is a collection of various panels such as Performance Panel, Safety Panel, Application Panel, Device Mode, and so on. Each panel is assigned with specific functions. When clubbed together, these panels authorize you to view messages, run and debug JavaScript, edit pages on-the-fly, and optimize the website speed.

CodePen

CodePen is a front-end web development environment used by designers and developers for seamless and quick development. As it provides all the features of an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) in the browser, you can build entire websites and test cases. CodePen has a coding environment that is better than most front end development tools. Its customizable editor helps you build components that can be utilized later in multiple projects.

CodePen features a collaboration mode through which multiple developers can write and edit code at the same time. On top of that, its prefill API makes it possible for you to add links, demo pages, media files, etc. without having to code anything.

GitHub

GitHub is a software development platform with project management features. Because it integrates easily with the existing tools, you can use GitHub for personal projects or experiment with new programming languages.

Enterprise-specific functionalities such as advanced auditing, unified search and contribution, code review, and invoice billing are also available in GitHub. Plus, GitHub also takes care of the security aspect using security incident response and two-factor authentication. All these features collectively make GitHub an immensely beneficial platform for enterprises.

Grunt

Grunt is a JavaScript task runner. It is one of the best front end development tools in terms of automation. It reduces the amount of effort invested in coding, as it performs most of the repetitive tasks.

Grunt contains a lot of bundled plugins for common tasks. Also, it is extensible in the sense that it allows you to write custom tasks according to your needs. What’s better is that you can combine these tasks to get the best results. Interestingly, you can also create your own Grunt node package manager (npm). For that, you always need an updated npm.

jQuery

jQuery is a lightweight, open-source JavaScript library that works on the principle of “write less, do more.” It is perhaps the most popular and extendable JS library because it enables you to focus on the functionality of different aspects.

jQuery simplifies a lot of complicated things from JavaScript like AJAX calls, HTML/DOM manipulation, and document transversal. It is a feature-rich library with all kinds of tools for CSS manipulation, effects and animation, Utilities, event handling, and plugins for almost any task.

npm

Node Package Manager (npm) is a package manager for JavaScript. It is basically a tool that lets you discover assorted packages of reusable code and utilize it in new, powerful ways. Since npm is a free and open-source solution, you can publish unlimited OSS packages and install public packages.

npm takes good care of you with basic support and automatic warnings for unsafe code. It also looks after a great number of enterprises that rely on its services by offering them security expertise, access control, and unrivaled support. npm facilitates the management of public and private code using the same workflow.

Reactjs

Reactjs was developed by Facebook software engineer Jordan Walke in 2011. It is an open-source JS library for building reusable UI components. It has found a major application in the development of responsive and appealing user interfaces.

Reactjs has a component-based architecture that enhances the maintainability of code while working on large scale projects. It implements one-way data flow and uses virtual DOM, which improves the performance of the applications. The library can be used on the client as well as the server-side which makes it an SEO-friendly technology.

TypeScript

Developers have to stay updated with the changing trends in top programming languages. If you too are a fan of status typing of code like me, you must have already experienced the wonders of TypeScript. For the ones who haven’t tried it, I highly recommend using this superset of JavaScript to make your life easier. Because it offers static typing, you can catch errors while still writing the code, which saves a ton of time.

Secondly, TypeScript compiles to JavaScript. So you can use newer features from the latest versions like ES7 and still compile the code to the version your JavaScript code supports.

The best aspect of using TypeScript for front end development is that it can run on any environment supported by JavaScript and is portable across operating systems, devices, and browsers.

HTML5 Boilerplate

HTML5 Boilerplatefront end tools, a front end template that serves as a front end foundation for an app, is widely loved by the community across the globe. Many giants like NASA and Microsoft are known to make the best of Boilerplate for designing robust web apps pretty quickly. Many front end developers also like to use it for cross-platform app development.

If you haven’t worked with HTML5 Boilerplate before, I’d suggest you download the full version that comes with heavy documentation. However, if you are already familiar, go for the lighter version. In addition to all the basic front end requirements like CSS, HTML, and JavaScript, you also get to use Modernizr. With Modernizr, you can style all the new HTML5 elements in Internet Explorer. Moreover, Boilerplate also enables you to secure your web app better with the help of Apache server configurations.

The Bottom Line

Of course, there are many, many more tools out there that can prove to be super useful for web development. However, these were the tools I have personally used and found to be very effective.

My team and I mostly work on medium to large scale web applications, and this is what I have learned: To make front end development faster, we use a full-fledged framework like Angular or a library like Reactjs. However, I’ve found that all of these tools can be helpful.

It makes sense to use some sort of readymade architecture instead of building everything from scratch. By using a framework on the front end, you can save time, which means you can get more work done in a shorter amount of time and still produce high-quality work.

About the author

Tapan Patel

Tapan Patel is a co-founder of Third Rock Techkno, a dynamic IT services company headquartered in IL, USA. Third Rock Techkno helps clients with services like consulting, software development, website designing and development, enterprise mobility, and product development. With a humble beginning 6 years ago, Tapan has gained expertise in bringing together the best teams and empowering them to grow exponentially. In his free time, he likes to read extensively about technology and is passionate about sharing his expertise with the world. You can read his articles on his LinkedIn profile.