Recommendation for web development tools

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    Oct 12, 2010 2:03 AM GMT
    I am currently working in a non-technical capacity, and am planning to wrap it up in around a couple of years. I want to stay busy and was thinking of web development for local businesses. I have a good technical background and in the past worked with C, Java, Oracle (DB, tools, PL/SQL) so I can learn new stuff, but my knowledge of current technologies is close to zero.

    I would like to start getting up to speed on appropriate tools and technologies so in a couple of years, I will be ready to roll up my sleeves. One suggestion that I think is good is Adobe CS. I'm already familiar with Photoshop and Lightroom.

    Interested in recommendations for web development tools. Specifically CS or something else? What about PHP, PERL, Python, or Ruby? If a small business wants a storefront tied to their inventory system, are there standard tools and interfaces?

    Related topic: I am also interested in video, and the CS version that has everything I'm interested in is Master Collection. New for the Mac is around $2500 at Amazon. I can find it for around $1500 on ebay - seller says factory new in box, shrink wrapped, US version, not upgrade, OEM, or education version. Gave correct part number. If legit, I can see how someone can cut their profit, but how would they get a legit package to sell? If it is gray market, can it be US version?

    Thanks very much.
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    Oct 12, 2010 2:13 AM GMT
    Nothing is standard, per se. Pick the tools that are appropriate for the job. If you want to develop a simple store site, then you might as well go with PHP. No need to reinvent the wheel. There are so many PHP modules and shopping cart software that can integrate to whatever back-end you have. Zen Cart is pretty popular these days.

    As for software, the profit margins are big. Anywhere from 20% - 30% markup from cost. If someone is selling legit software for cheap, then it's probably grey market. Meaning they are not an authorized dealer. And since they're undercutting the authorized resellers, they're making a small profit per unit, but are probably making up for it in volume.
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    Oct 12, 2010 1:16 PM GMT
    I use Eclipse for most of my coding.

    http://www.eclipse.org/

    But if you're not looking for anything with a lot of bells and whistles to get the job done you could try out a program called ConTEXT.

    http://www.contexteditor.org/

    Mind you both of these are free (as far as my knowledge).

    Personally I like to use free/share-ware rather than buy something I can get elsewhere that is as powerful if not more so. (GIMP over PS)

    Hope this helps any,
    ~J
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    Oct 12, 2010 1:23 PM GMT
    Since you've got a Mac, I'd suggest sticking with TextMate. I'm a bit jealous there isn't a port of it for Linux. When I code on my laptop, I use EMacs. Most of the time if I'm developing for the web on Linux, I use Ruby On Rails. It's very quick to set up and get you going on the creation of the site, building the models, controllers, and views at the same time. Most of the actual code is built for you when you're getting started, then you just have to go in and edit to get the functionality you're looking for.

    As for other software, the one I use the most is Photoshop. Not everyone likes flash, and I'm willing to bet you won't find as many clients looking for it than standard web functionality (CRUD for the database, and standard text to show content). You'd do well to teach yourself a javascript library as well. My favorite is jQuery.

    Good luck!
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    Oct 12, 2010 1:26 PM GMT
    Prompt#> vi index.html

    icon_smile.gif
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    Oct 12, 2010 4:15 PM GMT
    We use: Notepad++. Vim / VI. Eclipse. Zend Studio. Homesite. Topstyle. Very rarely, M$ Studio & M$ Expression

    For scripting on a web host: PHP, PERL, bash, tcl. Very rarely, asp classic, asp dot net.

    For batch jobs: perl, bash, php. We aren't a Windows shop so we don't use the WSH or the various M$ script tools. Python pops up from time to time.

    For batch image processing: ImageMajick, GD, htmldoc

    For database: MySQL, Postgres, Berkley db, CDB, M$ SQL. We've been looking at Mongo DB. Some of our databases have tables with 80 million records (our geo ranging stuff that runs the US Census TIGER data) (not the phone company, but, pretty fat).

    For image editing: Adobe, Corel, GIMP

    For resources: W3 Schools, various ISO stuff, ITU

    For desktop: Windows 7 Enterprise N. OpenSuSE 11.3.

    Production web servers: OpenSuSE 11.1 to 11.3, Centos 5.x, Debian. running Apache, MySQL, and sometimes Postgres.

    For VOIP: Asterisk 2.6.x

    For SIP: Xlite

    For streaming video: Quicktime, and ffmpeg (which renders to whatever format we need, like flv, or mpg, or mp3, etc.).

    Javascript / web 2: dojo, jquery, mootools. We're moving more towards dojo because it's done by some big players and runs better.

    Shopping cart: ourselves (we write it), OS Commerce / Magento.

    Payment processing: Paypal and authorize.net

    Connectivity: We're on Internet 2, and we have two 2.4Gbps GPON Verizon FIOS ONTs. One is our residential. One is our business. Our business circuit is 25M/25M static ips.
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    Oct 12, 2010 4:26 PM GMT
    Pyrotech saidSince you've got a Mac, I'd suggest sticking with TextMate. I'm a bit jealous there isn't a port of it for Linux. When I code on my laptop, I use EMacs. Most of the time if I'm developing for the web on Linux, I use Ruby On Rails. It's very quick to set up and get you going on the creation of the site, building the models, controllers, and views at the same time. Most of the actual code is built for you when you're getting started, then you just have to go in and edit to get the functionality you're looking for.

    As for other software, the one I use the most is Photoshop. Not everyone likes flash, and I'm willing to bet you won't find as many clients looking for it than standard web functionality (CRUD for the database, and standard text to show content). You'd do well to teach yourself a javascript library as well. My favorite is jQuery.

    Good luck!


    EMACS is so hard core. Ruby on Rails is spiffy but the benchmarks are absolutely horrible. It's a model of inefficient code, running 25 times slower than PHP.
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    Oct 12, 2010 8:29 PM GMT
    Vim is an awesome editor that takes a while to get used to, but is awesome once you do.

    There is a nice GUI version for OS X called MacVim. It lets you use the usual OS X keyboard shortcuts and some other features.

    http://code.google.com/p/macvim/

    Panic's CODA is really nice as well it costs a bit but you can try out the demo, it is one of the most popular editors for Mac at the moment.

    http://www.panic.com/coda/
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    Oct 12, 2010 9:54 PM GMT
    You might want to check this out for Ruby on Rails: http://railstutorial.org/screencasts?

    The performance stats can be optimized as I understand it for RoR and it's ideal (along with Python being another popular rapid prototyping framework it seems) - and contrary to previous perceptions Rails can scale.

    There's a fantastic community / news aggregation site which is an intersect between hackers, programmers, business guys and web developers called HackerNews http://news.ycombinator.com/ run by YCombinator (a super angel type VC fund). They have a discussion here on learning http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=190518 but there are a lot more on practically every subject related to web development.
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    Oct 12, 2010 10:09 PM GMT
    Rails can scale said the Twitter Fail Whale!!!!!!

    LOL.

    I'm a poet, don't you know it?
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    Oct 12, 2010 10:18 PM GMT
    LOL. You guys are over-thinking this. The OP wants to develop simple websites for small businesses, not invent Web 3.0. icon_lol.gif
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    Oct 13, 2010 12:04 AM GMT
    xrichx saidLOL. You guys are over-thinking this. The OP wants to develop simple websites for small businesses, not invent Web 3.0. icon_lol.gif

    That is true.

    All you guys are fantastic. So much information - I will go through each post and digest, or try to digest it. I really appreciate the time you took to answer. I don't take that for granted.

    If anyone who hasn't seen the thread and responds, I will obviously continue to monitor.

    Thanks again, guys.
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    Oct 13, 2010 2:16 PM GMT
    chuckystud said
    Pyrotech saidSince you've got a Mac, I'd suggest sticking with TextMate. I'm a bit jealous there isn't a port of it for Linux. When I code on my laptop, I use EMacs. Most of the time if I'm developing for the web on Linux, I use Ruby On Rails. It's very quick to set up and get you going on the creation of the site, building the models, controllers, and views at the same time. Most of the actual code is built for you when you're getting started, then you just have to go in and edit to get the functionality you're looking for.

    As for other software, the one I use the most is Photoshop. Not everyone likes flash, and I'm willing to bet you won't find as many clients looking for it than standard web functionality (CRUD for the database, and standard text to show content). You'd do well to teach yourself a javascript library as well. My favorite is jQuery.

    Good luck!


    EMACS is so hard core. Ruby on Rails is spiffy but the benchmarks are absolutely horrible. It's a model of inefficient code, running 25 times slower than PHP.


    I've never really had performance problems on the RoR tools I've built, but they haven't been made for thousands and thousands of users at a time or anything either, so never truly tested its scalability.

    For most of the small / quick sites I build that don't require much functionality, I stick with Wordpress. This is also because I'm not very experienced in PHP.

    Emacs takes a little bit of getting used to, but the keyboard shortcuts make it totally worth it.
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    Oct 13, 2010 2:35 PM GMT
    For coding, I use ActiveState's Komodo IDE.

    It has built in FTP/Database editing.
    It's platform independent (so I can run it on Fedora/Ubuntu)
    It has all the other usual jazz.

    KomodoEdit is free if you ever want to try it.

    I've tried a lot of other programs, and I've never really cared for them (Dreamweaver included).

    I also have to recommend a few key Firefox add-ons
    TamperData & Firebug

    TamperData lets you intercept HTTP headers to make sure the variables you think you're sending are really accurate. (Or to send new ones on-the-fly for debugging)

    Firebug is the quickest way to find/fix a CSS issue I know of.
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    Oct 14, 2010 10:58 PM GMT
    averagejoe saidFor coding, I use ActiveState's Komodo IDE.

    It has built in FTP/Database editing.
    It's platform independent (so I can run it on Fedora/Ubuntu)
    It has all the other usual jazz.

    KomodoEdit is free if you ever want to try it.

    I've tried a lot of other programs, and I've never really cared for them (Dreamweaver included).

    I also have to recommend a few key Firefox add-ons
    TamperData & Firebug

    TamperData lets you intercept HTTP headers to make sure the variables you think you're sending are really accurate. (Or to send new ones on-the-fly for debugging)

    Firebug is the quickest way to find/fix a CSS issue I know of.


    I just tried out the new Komodo IDE, I tried out an older version and didn't like it too much, but this one seems nice. I always end up back with VIM though.

    +1 for the Firefox + Tamperdata & Firebug.

    Google Chrome / Safari also has their webkit dev tools (inspector I think it is called) built in which are nice as well.
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    Oct 15, 2010 3:41 AM GMT
    chuckystud saidRails can scale said the Twitter Fail Whale!!!!!!

    LOL.

    I'm a poet, don't you know it?


    What scalability problems have you run into with RoR? I mean, what are the limitations that you've found?

    I've been working with Rails for only about 1.5 years total, and there are many jobs out there for Rails developers, but there are also tons for PHP developers. Since I haven't been learning Rails too long, it probably wouldn't take much effort to drop and switch to PHP for good reasoning. What advantages (examples from personal experience, preferably... I learn better that way) have you found with PHP that Rails couldn't quite make the cut? Have you ever had to drop a Rails project and switch to PHP knowing that Rails wasn't cut out for the job?

    Thx!
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    Oct 15, 2010 4:17 AM GMT
    I use Coda, Dreamweaver CS5 and definitely Firebug. Also a fan of Expression Engine CMS, PHP and LAMP servers.

    Great free FTP app is Cyberduck.
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    Oct 15, 2010 3:51 PM GMT
    the initial response is pretty on point - you're probably better off deciding which environment / language combo you want to work and then choosing what tools with to work from there - and then you don't want to reinvent the wheel, for each language there are already a lot of well-used application frameworks in which a lot of standard development principles are already implemented to help get things done faster.

    having worked with c/java/oracle you're already familiar with stricter languages (in both syntax and variable typing), you might want to get into one of the java frameworks like apache's struts or wicket to get comfortably into the model-view-controller paradigm that most frameworks circle around, and then either stick with them or use what you've learned to get into frameworks around the other langauges - recommended ones for some being:

    - python's django
    - perl's catalyst (my preference by far but i'm a perl guy)
    - ruby's rails
    - php's kohana or yii


    re: scalability + php or rails - aside from this being sort of apples and oranges (comparing a core language vs a framework built on top of one) you can't make any sort of blanket generalization on this without defining use cases/contexts, and most people really don't ever end up needing to push the limits of either of these - but i will throw out the general acceptance among my circles that when it gets down to it both suck, and for php specifically even with the optimizers and whatnot at my last job handling 1.5 billion requests a day there wasn't much to do but decouple overhead (meaning sacrifcing all object-oriented development) and throw as much hardware as possible while crossing your fingers. the place i'm at now handles 10 billion requests a day such that it was necessary to handle all of our requests in c.

    a more general issue with php is that the core codebase is somewhat of a clusterfuck, even now they're still altering core functionality with each release (they've only officially had namespaces for a little over a year!). both php and rails have a mindset of making it super easy to get things done quickly has resulted in a general culture of sloppy coders that don't know any better, the signal-to-noise ratio is a lot better in any of the other languages.
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    Oct 15, 2010 10:46 PM GMT
    mmmkay

    These are the things you'll need to learn.

    HTML
    CSS
    Javascript (Imparticular you'll want to learn about XML HTTP request)
    PHP

    Firefox plugins you'll want
    Webdeveloper tool bar its at 1.1.8 right now, it's useful.
    Firebug as has been mentioned.

    Coding on a mac..
    I use Espresso but I prefer hand coding and I recommend hand coding.
    There is also Coda which has a great deal of popularity
    Textmate I didn't particularly like but it has a great deal of popularity too.

    Photoshop for graphics work (Illustrator if you really wanna go there)

    and the last thing

    Google.com <- you'll be constantly searching on how to do things.

    Stay away from table based layouts, tables are not for laying out a website for that you have HTML/CSS and the div tag

    Other then that though.. thats about as much as you need.

    OOH and learn how to use wordpress effectively, you'll want to know it!
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    Oct 15, 2010 10:51 PM GMT
    Yep....google.com....
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    Oct 16, 2010 4:13 AM GMT
    Thanks again guys. Great suggestions.