The Tools I Use to Get the Job Done #2

Part 1 of this series can be found here.

The first part of this series got so long I had to write a part 2. So here it is, part 2 of The Tools I Use to Get the Job Done.

Search Engines

I am not going into details about search engines here, as we all know what they are and what they do. However, I wanted to mention how important a search engine is to a web designer or developer. Heck, probably any IT professional. Why? Because part of my job involves solving problems, search engines help me find the answers I seek. I never realized how much of my job was going to depend on my research skills. Trust me when I say, if you are looking into getting into this field learn how to do research!

Google
Google Search Engine Screen Shot

Bing
Bing Screen Shot

Graphic Editor/Maker

Photoshop
Photoshop Screen shot

I use Photoshop for all my image making or editing. At my place of employment I use CS4 version, at home I use the CS5 version. I do have access to Illustrator and Fireworks as well, but I just don’t use these much. Illustrator drives me nuts mostly because I want it to function way more like Photoshop than it does. So I find it very difficult to figure out things fast enough to get the job done. I know if I spent more time practicing with that program I would probably end up loving it, but right now Photoshop is king in my book. Fireworks I don’t really see a need for this program at all, Photoshop fills all my needs just fine.

Text Editor

Adobe® Dreamweaver® CS3
Dreamweaver
Dreamweaver is a WYSIWYG Editor, though I don’t really use those aspects of the program anymore really. I tend to write my code myself but Dreamweaver has auto finish code that I do sometimes use only to make coding faster not because I don’t or can’t code it myself. I do like being able to see my CSS code on the side bar for a certain area I am working on, so I like that feature too. I really like my code color-coded. It just make finding a particular line that much easier. I also visualize the way a site looks, better with color-coding. I do like the FTP hook up feature as well. Being able to see my server files and local files next to each other is nice. Other than that, I don’t really use too many other features of Dreamweaver. I know that a pretty expensive tool to use if I’m not even using 10% of the features, but it was what I had after college so I just continue to use it. I have CS4 at work and CS5 at home. I have thought of changing to another one but I don’t know what I would change to, and I’m kind of a tightwad so it couldn’t be expensive. Let me know if you have better suggestions.

Font Helpers

Choosing a font for a site is one of the funniest parts about my job. Well at least I think so, I love playing with font stacks and making new stacks of fonts to use on sites. That being said, fonts can be a bit wonky in how they turn out on the web and sometimes even in images. Test, test, test, it’s your best option. But do have fun with it too.

Google Web Fonts
Google Web Fonts

Font Squirrel
Font Squirrel

Pixel Checker

I just discovered this tool only a short time ago when developing this site. I know I am going to use this one a whole lot in the future. The deal is you open this up in a browser window and then the site you’re developing in another browser window. You reduce the site browser window on top of this one up and down. It allows you to see how your site is going to look one different size screens. I totally found this so very helpful when I developed this site.

Website Dimensions Pixel Checker
Pixel Checker Screen shot

Other Sources

In addition to the tools I talked about in these two articles, there are hundreds of tutorials and advice columns out that I may use from time to time. There are far too many for me to mention. I really love how web designers and developers really like helping each other out. I have learned more from the web designer/developer community then I ever would or did in college. Until next time…happy coding!

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