Anyone using a Mac knows that the Mac development community is producing some amazing applications right now. With Mac sales at an all time high, those new to the Mac often don’t know about some of the great applications available. While there are a multitude of fantastic shareware applications available, the Mac community also has a number of great freeware and donationware applications to choose from.
I enjoy dabbling in a little web development and have purchased a number of fantastic tools. Despite owning a number of great shareware web development applications, I wanted to focus this article on some applications for those who don’t want to spend the money for shareware applications or just don’t have the money to spend. I’ll breakdown the best freeware applications into various web development categories.
Web Server and Languages
MAMP – MAMP stands for Mac Apache MySQL PHP. MAMP is a stand alone web development environment. Just install MAMP and you’re basically ready to go. MANP includes a desktop widget to easily start and stop Apache and MySQL. If you’re looking for the easiest way to setup your web server, database, and php then MAMP is your application. You can be up and coding in less than a few minutes.
Seashore – Seashore is a Cocoa based open source image editor. Seashore features gradients, textures, multiple layers, and alpha channel editing. Seashore is based around the GIMP‘s technology and uses the same file format. While you could just download the GIMP instead, Seashore does not use the X11 windowing system that some OS X users don’t care for.
Smultron – Smultron is an open source text editor that is both easy to use and powerful. Smultron is a Cocoa applicaiton that features tabs, line numbers (very helpful), support for syntax coloring, snippets, multi-document find, and many more features. Smultron also offers a preview feature powered by Webkit. One feature lacking in Smultron is the ability to edit files remotely.
TextWrangler – TextWrangler is a very powerful general purpose text editor. Though it used to cost $50, Bare Bones Software made it free about three years ago. TextWrangler has so many features that I had a hard time narrowing them down for this article. Features include multi-file search and replace, a document drawer allowing you to edit multiple files in the same window, find differences in two files and merge the differences, spell checker, syntax coloring, plug-in support, AppleScript support, and so much more. And like many of the shareware text editors, TextWrangler allows remote file editing. The ability to remotely edit a file on SFTP/FTP servers is such an enormous time saver.
Cyberduck – Cyberduck is an easy to use open source FTP/SFTP client. While Cyberduck may not be the two pane ftp client you’re used to, the simple drag and drop from/to the finder is very simple to use. Cyberduck integrates with many OS X technologies such as Spotlight, Bonjour, Keychain, and AppleScript. The ability to bookmark sites, support for external editors, and support for the Growl notification system round out the some of the reasons Cyberduck is such a wonderful FTP client.
Fugu – Fugu is an open source SFTP client. Unlike Cyberduck, Fugu does feature the familiar two pane UI that many ftp users are used to. The features include support for external editors, Keychain access, image previews, and more. One downside of Fugu is that it does not support regular FTP. This means if you only have access to a website via FTP, Fugu will not connect to your file server. The website also fails to mention support for Leopard.
Simple CSS – Simple CSS is a Cocoa application that makes it easier to update your style sheets. Simple CSS allows you to easily change fonts, borders, margins, and much more. Open a style sheet and Simple CSS displays all the elements in the left pane while the right pane gives you various options to change the currently selected element. You an mange multiple CSS files at the same time and a simple plus and minus button allow you to easily add and remove elements.
So there you have it, the best free programs for Mac web developers. If you find some of the programs useful, consider a donation to those developers that have asked for a donation. Did I miss something? I certainly couldn’t list every program but if you feel I’ve left out a well deserving free program, leave a comment below and a link to the software you’re recommending. Hope you enjoyed this list!