From Development

5 Essential Front-end Development Tools

The number of web development tools has been increasing over the years. Due to that, it’s not easy to choose the ones that we have to use daily. If in one hand you can go with what's popular, it's also important to consider which tools can help you create a solid solution.

Here at Imaginary Cloud we focus on building world-class web and mobile apps for top clients worldwide. For this reason, we select carefully our tech stack and work methodologies, so we can not only provide a great user experience but also, to help our clients meet their business goals.

Having this in mind, and according to my experience as a front-end developer, I’m going to share with you our top 5 essential tools for front-end development and how they help us deliver better code.

1. React

React - Official logo

React is the most used Javascript library for building web and mobile user interfaces. It was created by Facebook in 2013 and currently it has over 149K Github stars. React applications are built in a declarative way, which makes your code more predictable and easier to debug. The views are component based, which means that each component is responsible to manage their own state. React is also an independent piece inside your project, so you don’t have to worry about the rest of your technology stack.

Nowadays almost every business is aiming to build mobile cross-platform applications due to daily smartphone usage. To do that, we can use a mobile app front end development tool based on React, called React Native. React Native lets you create truly native apps, doesn't compromise on your users' experience and you can also reuse some code from your Web App.

2. MaterialUI

Material UI logo

When you start building front-end applications on a regular basis, you’ll notice there are a set of elements that you need to implement for every project.

UI frameworks are essential tools for front-end development that attempt to solve these problems by abstracting the common elements into reusable modules - meaning developers can scaffold the elements of new applications with speed and ease.

One of the most used frameworks is MaterialUI, that provides a huge set of React components for faster and easier web development. All these components are highly customizable, which can dramatically cut down on the amount of code (and time) needed to build your project. Please be aware that sometimes the component that we need to create is not easily customizable with MaterialUI. In that case, the best option is to create our own component.

3. Chrome Dev Tools

Chrome Dev Tools logo

As a developer, you always aim to have a good way of debugging your code. Chrome Dev tools are some of the best to achieve that. It provides a set of web development tools that allow you to do a wide variety of development testing in your browser, which saves a ton of development time.

The most important tools on Chrome Dev tools are:

Device Mode - Preview your work

Available devices in Chrome Dev Tools
Friendly way to test how your page looks and performs on different mobile devices and different operating systems.

Network - App network activity

Inspect Network Activity in Chrome Dev Tools
It is commonly used to make sure that resources are being downloaded or uploaded as expected. You can also inspect the properties of an individual resource, such as its HTTP headers, content, size, and so on.

Audits - Check app performance

Example of an app performance report
Used to audit your application performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, SEO and more.

4. Sass

Sass logo

Nowadays, we aim to write CSS that can be easily maintained with the minimum amount of code to achieve the goal and needs to be DRY (“Don’t Repeat Yourself”).

Sass is one of the most popular front end development tools that provides a good way to write CSS. It’s been actively supported for over 13 years which pretty much defined the genre of modern CSS preprocessors. It allows you to use variables, nested rules, mixins, functions, and more, all with a fully CSS-compatible syntax which helps keep large stylesheets well-organized.

5. VSCode

An example of a VSCode theme

VSCode is a source-code editor developed by Microsoft released in 2016. In the Stack Overflow 2019 Developer Survey, Visual Studio Code was ranked as the most popular developer environment tool. It includes a lot of awesome features that are usually available on paid editors. The main features are:

  • IntelliSense: provides smart completions based on variable types, function definitions, and imported modules.

  • Debugging: debug code right from the editor. Launch or attach to your running apps and debug with breakpoints, call stacks, and an interactive console.

  • Git commands built-in: Review diffs, stage files, and make commits right from the editor. Push and pull from any hosted SCM service.

On VSCode you can also install additional extensions to improve your development speed. Here are our suggestions:

ESLint

ESLint automatically find and fixes problems in your JavaScript code. If you are looking for a eslint configuration check this one we created.

Prettier

Prettier is a formatter used to keep your project with the same code style. It's currently supported for many languages. If you are looking for a Prettier configuration here's one created by us.

Live Share

Live Share enables real time collaboration between developers, that allows edit and debug on your code.

Code spell checker

Code spell checker catch common spelling errors on camelCase code.

It's a fact that front-end development tools are rising over the years due to ever-changing web techs. We can relate that sometimes it might get challenging to pick the right tool or set of tools for your project, especially if you're starting out and have no comparison to something you've done previously.

In this article we selected the 5 best tools for front end development we recommend, based on our experience as front-end experts, bringing to life web and mobile apps that users love.

Heard of a tool that it's not here listed and would like to know if it's suitable for your project? Get in touch and we'll be glad to help you out!

Found this article useful? You might like these ones too!

At Imaginary Cloud, we simplify complex systems, delivering interfaces that users love. If you’ve enjoyed this article, you will certainly enjoy our newsletter, which may be subscribed below. Take this chance to also check our latest work and, if there is any project that you think we can help with, feel free to reach us. We look forward to hearing from you!