Over 12 Top, Free Tools For Web Development Projects

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 20, 2008

Software as a Service (SaaS) applications are increasingly either employing open source or are built entirely on it, a la SugarCRM. Meanwhile, there continue to be many opportunities for open source Web 2.0 and e-commerce applications to grow. If you're collaborating on any open source project that requires web application development, here are over twelve free resources to help you.

Mike Gunderloy recently wrote up Open Source Designs, which provides over 2000 web site designs, with the majority of them XHTML/CSS-based. This looks like an awesome way to get a site going with a good theme, look and platform to build on.

In a similar vein to Open Source Designs, check out Open Designs. This site relies on The Open Design Community (TODC), a group of Open Source Website Designers from around the world providing thousands more XHTML- and CSS- based free web design templates for download.

LaunchSplash is a new service that I haven't used yet, but Webware's writeup of it was interesting. If you own a domain and have a site on the way, you can drop a headline and description into LaunchSplash and you'll be automatically set up with a preview landing page, complete with an RSS feed.

Many open source developers and wannabe developers can get a lot out of brushing up on web and database development topics. I'm a big fan of W3Schools' many online tutorials on these topics. The free tutorials include lessons on CSS, Ajax, JavaScript, DHTML, XHTML and more, where you get to publish your practice attempts to actual web pages.

Piwik, at left, is open source web analytics software. When it comes to doing web analytics, it's beneficial to get as many views of your data as possible, so you can use Piwik in conjunction with a tool like Google Analytics or on its own. The really cool thing about Piwik is that a community of users constantly contributes new plug-ins so that you can see unexpected views of your site data.

If you're doing an advertising-driven site, check into OpenX, a free, open source ad server that serves more than 30,000 customers. You can use it as a hosted service or you can download it if you want to run it on your own servers, keeping your ad revenue and information in-house.

ProjectZero from IBM aims to entice Java, PHP, and Groovy developers to use its platform for creating and deploying next generation web applications.

Most web development environments cater especially to developers who favor certain languages and environments. Kompozer is a huge favorite with developers who are into CSS (cascading style sheets). Kompozer's rendering engine uses Gecko, the same layout engine in Mozilla's Firefox. It stands out for its very easy-to-use CSS editor, and strong WYSIWYG features. It's free and open source.

Quanta Plus is a very rich, open source web development environment, especially popular with those who concentrate on PHP for building sites and applications. It's based on KDE, so it appeals to those in the Linux community most. It does a good job of letting you work with multiple pages at once, and has very complete PHP debugging.

Drupal is the content management system (CMS) that much of OStatic is built on, and is a very rich environment. For some types of sites, it may actually represent overkill. Writing-intensive sites, such as blogs, often rely on WordPress to build out much of the content. I thought this post did a good job of comparing the two types of content management environments.

Are you incorporating video in your site? Media Coder is an outstanding free, open source application for batch media transcoding to almost every format you can name. You can find more good open source tools for videographers here.