Ever wonder what a web developer needs for work? Well wonder not more!!! I’m going to list absolutely everything that I use for work, however infrequent. Also some things that I know I will be getting in the future. List made for new poeple who want to make sure they aren’t forgetting something, or experienced people who just want some light reading.

Physical Items ($$)

Things you have to buy that will take up physical space around you. This is a list for building a complete setup with everything you would ever need, and several redundancies. The complete setup is ~$3000. A basic setup (with less redundancy, but enough that you should never be out of work) is $1600, 90% of that being Workhouse Desktop + Just Fine Monitor. A minimal setup is $200, and is just the Ubuntu netbook.

  • Workhorse Desktop - $1200 - A desktop that, as an entity, is over 6 years old, but nothing currently installed is older than ~2 years. This thing gets cleaned and reseated constantly, and is the backbone of this entire website making operation. [[MORE]]
  • Just Fine Monitor - $200 - For all your basic visual needs
  • Another Monitor - $200 - Second screen. Sits vertically, next to the first one. Mostly for reading text files, sometimes for watching terminal output.
  • Backup Monitor - $30 - For when stuff hits the fan. Not reasonable to use as a second screen.
  • Chromebook - $200 - Pending acqusition of a mac, this gives the prettiest display of your work. Pretty really adds up when you are staring at something for 10 - 12 hours straight. Also it can have 30 Stackoverflow tabs open without an inevitable memory leak + crash in the middle of a database transaction
  • Ubuntu Netbook - ~$200 - You will want (need, really) to do an Ubuntu Dual Boot on the Workhouse Desktop, but for when that’s not available, there’s this netbook. It also doubles as anxiety reducer when you are having obscure boot issues.
  • A Mac - ~$200 - Spoofing Apple devices isn’t a thing, you’ll have to get one. Luckily, they tend to be fairly high quality items.
  • Assorted Cables - >$100 - 2 HDMI, 2 VGA, 8 USB - in 3 types, 4 AC, 3 Ethernet, …
  • A router - ~$30 - $60 - you will likely at some point experience port shenanigans, and will be glad that some knowledge from all those HTTP requests leaked into understanding this arcane device
  • A Desk / A Makeshift Desk - $0 ~ $200 - I’m currently rocking the makeshift variant and have fairly frequent neck issues, at the young age of 23.
  • Fancy Keyboard - $160 - I used to think “it’s just a keyboard, all you do is type! Why would I need an expansive one??/” and then I started web development. Similarly to the desk, a shit keyboard will likely result in nagging bodily harm. Do yourself a favor and get this fancy one, and set it to cycle through your pride flags once an hour.
  • Cheap Keyboard - $15 - For emergencies
  • Cheap Yet Fancy Mouse - $15 - To use until your wrist gives out
  • Better Mouse (ie. Trackball) - $50 - I hear its good for when your wrist gives out
  • Pencil and Paper - $10 - Draw your box models on paper before you start cooking the div soup
  • A Smartphone - $100 ~ $300 - A small screen to test with, and provide a web browser in a much smaller space than the one on the netbook.

Terminal Tools

Tools you utilize from a terminal window (Control + Alt + T on Ubuntu). The pinnacle of these tools is the web framework (that is: Flask, Rails, …), everything else is supporting infrastructure thereof.

  • Git
  • Bash
  • Language (tool, tool, …) - Comparing the languages and tools is outside of the scope of this post, so instead I will just list them:
    • Python
      • Pip - intaller
      • Virtualenv - environment manager
      • Flask - lightweight web framework
      • Django - heavyweight web framework
    • Ruby
      • Bundler - installer
      • RVM - environment manager
      • Sinatra - lightweight web framework
      • Rails - heavyweight web framework
    • Javascript / NodeJS
  • SSH - like the remote control (plus video feed) for a remote control car, except for terminal based servers


Servers are where you store your web applications. You either host your service with a service (recommended) or on your local computer (not recommended)

  • Heroku
  • Digital Ocean
  • AWS (Amazon Web Services)
  • Sandstorm.io

Language (free)

So the average website is some combination of HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Does that mean every web developer is writing HTML / CSS / JS? Well…

  • HTML (presentation)
    • Markdown
    • Jade
    • Haml
    • ERB
  • HTML (APIs)
    • XML
    • JSON
    • RSS
  • CSS
    • SASS
    • LESS
  • Javascript
    • CoffeeScript
    • JQuery
    • AngularJS

Application Tools (free)

Tools you utilize from an application window (opened via .exe style files)

  • Gimp
  • Inkscape
  • Audacity
  • Bird Font - font editing software, can be used to repair broken fonts (happens automatically on load)
  • Sublime Text - only free in a practical sense - the current most popular graphical (ie. not on terminal) text editor
  • Atom - free - the prime competitor for Sublime Text
  • Notepad++ - free - for when Sublime Text and Atom aren’t your style
  • Firefox / Chrome / Internet Explorer / ETC

Social / Collaboration

  • Stackoverflow
  • Twitter
  • Tumblr / Wordpress
  • Reddit
  • Slack
  • IRC
  • Github
  • Trello

Databases (free)

Databases are used to store things. My recommendation is not to think about databases at all until someone tells you that you need one.

  • SQLite - Like Postgres except it comes pre-installed
  • Postgres - A relational database, think of it as an excel spreadsheet
  • Redis - A key value store, like MongoDB but simpler
  • MongoDB - A document store, think of it as a filing cabinet
  • Neo4j - A graph database, think of it as a network of social links

Assets (free)

Used to create / obtain / edit electronic assets of various sorts. Fonts, Icons, Colors, …

Web Services

  • Dynadot - standard domain name provider. Not particularly exceptional in any way, but better than GoDaddy. Most providers will be better than GoDaddy, and on par with Dynadot. Domains are $5 to $15 per year.
  • DNSimple - advanced domain name provider. Use with you need to setup complex cache / forwarding schemes. $5 per month for 5 domains.
  • Google Analytics - the standard analytics suite, for determining referrals, most popular pages, those things of things
  • Piwik - analytics for the privacy concerned
  • Mailchimp - for sending newsletters
  • Google Fonts - free font service

Online Editors / Notepads

  • Etherpad - collaborative text editor, quickly setup a collaborative text editing space
  • StackEdit - markdown editor, useful when drafting new posts for its side by side preview
  • Codepen - HTML editor that comes with all the popular processors (SASS, Jade, …)
  • JSFiddle - HTML editor with a javascript focus
  • Repl.it - run Python, Ruby, JS, Java, and a bunch of other languages online

Converters (free)


References, Cheat Sheets