My web tool kit

On this page: The main tools of my trade - those that I use several times a week, and those that I only use rarely but which are indispensable when I do need them. Other people swear (or sometimes at) by different ones, but this is what I personally find to be a useful toolkit for working on a Windows 2000/XP PC.

spiderHTML editors and graphics tools are like cats* - you love them or you loathe them, but you can try most web-related tools free before you buy, so there's no excuse for not paying up! (*However, unlike cats, they don't sit in silence just the other side of a closed door, willing it to open.)

(The spider on this page is a reminder of my very first web site, a CompuServe home page from the early 90s: almost the Wild West, when web-related images were considered "cool".)

Homesite

This is my HTML editor of choice, sadly no longer supported, though you may be able to find it on old cover CDs. HomeSite wins for me because of all its productivity aids (automatically completing tags, reusable code snippets, useful context-sensitive menus, etc.) and its customisation/extendibility.

DreamWeaver and Contribute

DreamWeaver (DW) is a powerful and flexible site management and creation tool for anyone who knows (X)HTML, but is probably not suitable for anyone wanting a true WYSIWYG tool (not that such a thing exists). Contribute is a lightweight web content editor suitable for non-experts to use, which allows the webmaster to control who can edit what parts of the site, down to page area level. This is accomplished by setting up DW templates that specify what can be edited. See link to external site http://www.adobe.com for more details of both.

TopStyle

From Nick Bradbury, the man who originally developed HomeSite. A tool to edit CSS style sheets as easily as HomeSite for HTML. A 'lite' version comes with HomeSite and DW, but this paid-for one is well worth the money. See link to external site http://www.bradsoft.com/topstyle/index.asp.

CSE HTML Validator

The most accurate validators use a document type definition (DTD) to check the syntax of your web pages: you can use the online service at link to external site http://validator.w3.org/, for example. HomeSite comes with a rather feeble validator; this tool is much more comprehensive (although still not perfect), and can be integrated with both HomeSite and DreamWeaver. See link to external site http://www.htmlvalidator.com.

montastic

A web service rather than a tool - just recently discovered (July 2008) and immediately indispensable. Sign up at link to external site www.montastic.com, create an account and add all your web sites. Every time one is offline for more than a few minutes, you'll get an email alerting you, and another when it's back up. Simple, free, and very effective. You can also download widgets for PC and Mac to monitor on your desktop.

WS_FTP Pro

Unless you use FrontPage or DreamWeaver to publish your site, you almost certainly need an FTP client. This is my favourite: it has both a 'classic' interface, and an add-on for Windows Explorer that makes an FTP site look like a local folder; you can also use it from the command line. Choose which suits you best, or go for a cut-down freeware version. See link to external site http://www.ipswitch.com.

WinZip

This is a very widely used shareware tool for compressing and decompressing files for transfer/download. WinZip supports many other formats than zip - for example tar and gzip, uuencoded, BinHex and MIME documents. Check out the latest information at link to external site http://www.winzip.com.

PaintShop Pro

A powerful image editor for under £100; older versions can be picked up quite cheaply, and are very respectable smaller brothers of the industry standard tool, Adobe Photoshop, which is about 5x the price. Good for scanning or creating web images and converting between different file formats; probably all the non-professional designer needs for origination and image manipulation (vector and bitmap). See link to external site http://www.corel.com.

Xenu's Link Sleuth

A fast freeware link checker from Tilman Hausherr; produces a report from which you can view broken links in context, and a re-usable site map section, with all your links neatly laid out in a hierarchical list. Also has a useful re-check broken links feature, to test for timeout problems. See link to external site http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html.

Screen Ruler

A $15 shareware virtual ruler from Jesse Carneiro - try it at link to external site http://www.microfox.com, or buy it from link to external site http://www.kagi.com - follow the "order now" link and search for Screen Ruler to find the product(!). Small but perfectly formed; allows you to measure your frames, margins, images, and tables in pixels and other measurements.

BrowserSizer

A neat tool to simulate different screen resolutions in various browsers from link to external site http://www.sharewareplaza.com - sits in the systray and can be popped up when you need it. (Not updated for tabbed browsers though?)

EyeDropper

Another systray tool - this time freeware. Use it to see the colour of the pixel under the pointer (choose from hex and decimal values) - useful for matching colours in existing graphics or web page screenshots etc. See link to external site http://www.inetia.com. Note: version 3.0 that I downloaded in April 2000 prevents the IIS manager (aka Microsoft Management Console) from running - if you need to run the MMC, exit EyeDropper first. Version 1.1 didn't have the problem.

Browsers

I keep a variable number of browsers installed, to test my sites. Over the years, I have had MS Internet Explorer versions 3-7, Netscape Navigator 3.04-6.2; Mozilla 7, Firebird, Firefox (new version come along like buses!), Opera 5 and 7 (from link to external site http://www.opera.com), Lynx 2.8.2 (from link to external site lynx.browser.org to test text-only acccess), and SPRY Mosaic 04 (no frames or table support: just to remind me how it used to be in the old days). I also had a WebTV® emulator, not currently in any serious use, but I suppose the day will come when I need this and a phone/PDA emulator too! I keep old downloads in case they come in handy, but you might find this page helpful: link to external site http://browsers.evolt.org, for most kinds of browsers.

Firefox add-ins

Firefox has too many add-ins to mention individually, but the two I use most (apart from the British English spell-checker) are link to external site WAVE (accessibility) and link to external site Web Developer.