“There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” — Bruce Lee

1. Sketch

You CAN design (or at least get by)

Price: $99

Design is outside of the comfort zone for many developers. I was once complacent to say that “I don’t design”. But developers are designers. Even a basic ability to crop and resize images, create rough mocks will help you and your team build great-looking products. I use Sketch and believe it’s the best tool out there if only for performance reasons. Photoshop is ok too (although I always had issues with it crashing), but the more savvy web shops use Sketch.

“A fight is not won by one punch or kick. Either learn to endure or hire a bodyguard.” — Bruce Lee

2. Atom or Sublime

Price: Atom Free, Sublime $70

Sublime Text is my code editor of choice, it’s really a great product that I’ve used for years. I have a bit of a lock-in because it’s already setup exactly how I like it. So although Atom is popular among a lot of developers I haven’t had any pressing issue to justify a switch.

You’re going to spend a lot of time in this application, so make sure it’s something you enjoy using.

3. GitHub

Price: Public Repos Free, Private Repos $7/month

GitHub, the water-cooler for the world’s software is absolutely essential. You can learn so much about any programming language just by getting lost in different repositories. Obviously learning Git is a priority and I recommend learning from the command line verses a GUI. Here’s a great resource to learn the basics of the pattern that I use: Git Flow.

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it.” — Bruce Lee

4. Terminal

Price: Free

Learning the command line is essential for every developer. It may seem overwhelming if just getting started, but if you start out with a few commands like navigating directories and file / folder maintenance, you will have a big advantage. You really can do some amazing things with commands and as you develop you skills you will feel like you have super powers. Here’s a great resource for learning the Art of the Command Line.

“I always believe that the easy way is the right way.” — Bruce Lee

5. Cosmic JS

Disclaimer: I’m the CEO, Co-Founder of Cosmic JS.

API-first Content Platform

Price: Free and Paid Plans

After you’ve completed the development of your website or application, the next step is giving your end user a way to manage the content. There are many installed content management systems out there, but the old installed CMS approach is not built for modern demand. The general trend is moving toward a “Decoupled” approach (or some also call it “Headless” a term that I don’t agree with or use to describe a strategy with such thought and foresight).

You are much better off connecting your application to an API that can distribute content to different devices, regardless of programming language. Cosmic JS is an API-first CMS for building content-powered apps in any programming language. It gives developers tremendous freedom in building their applications and gives content editors an intuitive content editing experience. You can get your apps built and live faster using Cosmic JS. It integrates well with all the tools you love and you can deploy your GitHub repos live in a matter of minutes. Get started on a free plan and scale up as your projects grow.

“The only limitation is your imagination.” — My Old Music Teacher


I hope you enjoyed this list of some of the essential tools available to the modern web developer and reasons for choosing them. Reach out to me on Twitter if you have any questions. If you think I left any tools out, let me know in the comments below.