Clipping shears, a spade, and a small hoe

Three Fundamental Tools for Starting Development

avatar Mike DeJesus | Front-End Developer

I’ve been a front-end developer for the past 15 years, and I’ve seen a lot of web development tools come and go. It’s safe to say that things were simpler back when I was starting out. The only issues we really had to worry about were cross-browser compatibility, and making sure your website “popped.”

Today, there are many more factors to consider—especially in front-end development. Users are significantly more Internet-savvy and the prevalence of mobile phones and tablets has changed the way we navigate and engage with websites.

Those changes also brought about changes in the tools we used. In some cases, developers simply stopped updating or supporting their projects; in others, the need for it became obsolete or the application for it became impractical (think full Flash websites, for example). Whatever the reason, the “standard” tools have been updated. Some of the ones we use now are new but backed by tons of support, and some have stood the test of time. Here are 3 tools that we use regularly at a(m) for front-end development.


What it is
  • Bootstrap is a front-end framework
    • Bootstrap uses HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to accomplish a variety of tasks in considerably less time
    • It was created in 2011 by a designer and developer at Twitter
    • We started using it at a(m) in 2012, primarily as a tool for mobile websites
    • Today, Bootstrap is one of the most widely used front-end frameworks
Why we use it
  • It’s loaded with features
    • Standardized UI
      • Allows for standards in the way users interact with elements on websites, thereby removing any guesswork and making it easier for the user to navigate through the site
    • Responsiveness
      • Enables responsive design and development, so that users receive an equally pleasing website experience whether they’re viewing it on a mobile device or a television screen
    • Component selection
      • You can pick and choose only the elements you need for the project at hand, keeping Bootstrap only as large as it needs to be and thus helping immensely with the load-time of the site
Check it out >


What it is
  • WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS)
    • A CMS allows users to edit, modify, and create content
    • WordPress uses a WYSIWIG (“what you see is what you get”) editor with an interface similar to MS Word
    • It’s an open-source project backed by an amazing community and has been free to use since its inception in 2003
    • We’ve been using it at a(m) since 2008
Why we use it
  • It’s the best choice for most clients
    • Easy editing
      • One of the most user-friendly of available CMS options, and allows clients to edit their content easily
    • Customized by a(m)
      • We created and now employ our own theme, resulting in multiple benefits, including a cleaner CSS, a faster-running application, and the utilization of preferred plugins
      • We’re able to include customized elements based on each client’s needs, e.g., employee bios, inventory information, etc.
    • Savings—time and money
      • Giving our clients the power to manage their content themselves helps to save them money in the long-term
      • The use of our custom theme saves us time, meaning we can dedicate more team resources to important strategy and marketing efforts
Check it out >


What it is
  • GitHub is a web-based hosting service
    • Github offers standard Git functionality plus additional access control and collaboration features
    • The software repository can be accessed through Unix or software.
    • It was launched in 2008; we’ve been using it at a(m) since 2010
    • Github is a staple in the development community; with more than 3.4 million users, it’s the world’s largest code host
Why we use it
  • It’s all about collaboration
    • Communication
      • Review changes, report issues, comment, and plan
    • Keeping good company
      • With more than 3.4 million users, it’s the world’s largest code host and provides access to developers around the globe
    • Teamwork
      • Multiple developers can contribute to website and software projects
      • Saves versions of files that can be accessed and referenced
      • Eliminates the possibility of “crossover” issues with different developers accessing the same files
Check it out >

As a front-end developer, I know I’m only as good as the people around me and the tools we use. Our team strives to stay up-to-date not only on industry best practices but also on the available tools of our trade, and the best ones for our projects.

If you’re interested in learning more about our build processes, check out a few of the other articles in our a(m) Developer Library series: