6 free tools for web developers

peepsAs a web developer and small business owner, I’m on a constant quest to find free tools that allow greater collaboration and communication for my project teams, which tend to be spread throughout the country.

Without further adieu, here are my top picks:

1. Etherpad
Etherpad is a real-time, web-based collaborative text editor. You create a “pad”, invite others to join by sharing the URL, and paste in, or type, text. Edits show up in real time with each user’s text formatted in a different color. There’s a chat room where you can discuss your edits and an option to save revisions.

I’ve found Etherpad especially useful for team editing CSS and Javascript files and sharing bits of code for debugging. The only thing it’slacking is syntax highlighting for more languages, but I hear that’s in the works.

Interesting note: Etherpad was created by ex-Google Docs developers with funding from y-combinator.

2. Pastebin
Pastebin is a collaborative debugging tool with syntax highlight for just about every programming language. You paste in a code snippet, select the syntax and it outputs a web page with your formatted code including line numbers. It’s useful for sharing small bits of code on mailing lists, or IRC.

3. Snipplr
Snipplr is a social source code repository for scripts, CSS and code snippets. Forgot the min-height fix for IE6? They’ve got it. Need a javascript/CSS rounded corner script? There are several.

4. Xdebug
Xdebug is an essential PHP extension that provides stack/function tracing, time tracking, parameter display, code coverage analysis and a performance profiler that allows you to find bottleneck methods. If you can’t parse cachegrind files, this guy has released a PHP-based parsing tool.

5. Teamviewer
Teamviewer is a browser based remote desktop sharing application and a great alternative to paid applications like Goto meeting. It has supports remote desktop control/sharing, file transfers. The one feature the free version is lacking is audio, but that’s easily solved with Skype or FreeConference (see below)

6. Freeconference
Freeconference is a tool for setting up conference calls. The free versions allows you to set up a conference line with a local (not toll free) exchange. Participants dial in to the number and enter an access code to join your conference.

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