Ten Must-Have JS Plugins for Busy Developers

This guest post on HtmlCenter blog is written by Casey Ark who runs Plato Web Design. We are always looking for interesting contributions to our blog which can provide value to our readers, please get in touch.

I run a design firm called Plato, and about a year ago, my team and I had reached an impasse. Like everyone else, we built websites with PHP/Wordpress, and had a great time doing it, but there was one problem: we were slow.

So we analyzed our processes – we watched everything our developers did each day, and tried to find the biggest time-wasting activities. After quite a bit of analysis, we eventually found out that approximately 50% of the time each of our developers spent each day was on repeatable tasks.

In fact, the biggest time-suck of all was in programming and reprogramming simple JavaScript features like lightboxes, form validation, and galleries. And in most cases, we were reinventing the wheel: features like these were already available as free Javascript plugins.

In the end, we spent a few weeks searching out the easiest-to-install, most customisable JS scripts in the world for use in our sites, and we saw an incredible increase in productivity…

Some Nice Chrome Extensions

This will be a quick post mentioning some of my favorite extensions for the Google Chrome browser.

  1. Web Developer – The classic Firefox extension has been rewritten for use with Google Chrome. This is an absolute must-have for any Web developer, allowing you to disable CSS, images, javascript and more, view important information about a page, manipulate forms and more.Edit – The developer’s website does not seem to currently include a link to the Chrome extension. It can be downloaded from the Chrome Extensions gallery.
  2. Feedly – I’ve explained feedly in detail in the past, but it’s worth another mention, here.
  3. Google Account Switcher – adds a link to all of your Google pages, allowing you to easily switch between multiple Google accounts. Unfortunately, at the moment, this extension doesn’t seem to be working for me in Chrome 4.1. I’m not sure if Google made changes that stopped it from working, or if it only works in the latest development versions of Chrome but, at the very least, this is a good extension to keep an eye on.
  4. BuiltWith – allows you to view information about the various libraries and technologies used to build specific applications and Web pages.
  5. HTML Validation – adds an icon to your extension toolbar, indicating whether or not the page you’re viewing is coded with valid HTML. If it’s not, the icon shows the number of errors/warnings. It’s not as good as the HTML Validator/HTMLTidy plug-in for Firefox, but it’s definitely a good start.

A Fantastic Resource From Smashing Magazine

Earlier this week, Smashing Magazine put together a fantastic resource for PHP developers. The post is a list of “50 Extremely Useful PHP Tools.” The categories covered in the post are:

  • Debugging Tools
  • Testing and Optimization Tools
  • Documentation Tools
  • Security Tools
  • Image Manipulation and Graphs
  • PHP Code Beautifier
  • Version-Control Systems (though, according to the comments, the tools listed in this section arguably do not belong there)
  • Useful Extensions, Utilities and Classes
  • PHP Online Tools and Resources
  • In-Browser Tools (Firefox Add-Ons)
  • Frameworks for PHP
  • PHP IDEs and Editors
  • Sources and Resources

The descriptions of some of the tools in the article could have been a little better, as I don’t even understand what some of the tools are designed to do. However, there are quite a few interesting items in the list. I will definitely be trying some of them over the next few months to see how they work and what they might be able to do for me.

New Google Site Offers Tips to Web Developers

GoogleGoogle has unveiled yet another new site in its repertoire. This one, simply called Google Doctype, is a wiki intended to collect any and all Web development tips and tutorials. I found the news in the lifehacker blog.  While the wiki is not nearly as complete as w3schools, it does already include quite a bit of good information. I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before it blossoms into a huge resource for Web developers, be they hobbyists or professionals.  You can check out the new site at http://code.google.com/p/doctype/.  The design of the Google Doctype site is still very bland, and I’m not sure if Google has any plans to spruce it up.