Best Web Development Software for Mac OS X

A complete list of the best Mac OS X web development software that I use every week.

This software list has been updated and revised April 2011 to reflect new applications and some which have been discontinued.

Coda is a web application development suite with support for every language under the sun, including html, php, and javascript. Code completion, one-click publishing, project view, and regular expression searching make Coda a primary tool for web developers. Panic, as the developer of Transmit, issues frequent updates to the software.

This superb file comparison utility was recently updated in Cocoa with a more Mac-Like interface. For the time being, this is the Mac-users answer to the venerable Beyond Compare.

Best Mac text editor, hands down. Textmate does it all: source code editing, regular expressions searching, emac keyboard shortcuts, and tons of bundles to support all your text needs.

Espresso is similar to Coda in that it is geared toward web developers, though not as mature of a product. Super smart html auto-complete, cool visual code navigation, and source code folding make up for some of this tool's shortcomings.

UPDATE 9/10: I stick to using Coda, though Espresso has its advantages.

CSS Edit
CSS Edit is the fastest way for a web designer to preview css stylesheet changes. Saves tons of time by applying style changes without reloading the web page.

UPDATE 9/10: I no longer use CSS Edit in favor of hand-coding styles and use Google Chrome as a style inspector.

I switched to Google Chrome as soon as it become available for the Mac. Why? Chrome is almost as fast as Safari, built-in web development tools, and a clean layout that maximizes window space. Google Chrome has native replacements for many of the tools found in Firebug and the Firefox Web Developer Toolbar.

Sure I check my web designs in IE and Safari, but I employ Firefox as my primary web development browser. Why? Tons of awesome Add-ons aimed toward web professionals.

UPDATE: 9/10 Switched primary development browser to Google Chrome.

Firebug saves me more time than all of the other design tools on this page. It is absolutely essential for AJAX development. Watch server requests, inspect css styles, debug javascript code with watchlists, check web page load times, and profile javascript performance. Firefox Add-on.

Web Developer Toolbar
Great Firefox Add-on for web design. On screen pixel ruler, disable cache, resize window, show/hide form elements, much more.

Another Firefox Add-on, this one from Yahoo. Analyzes a web page a provides code optimization tips. Requires Firebug.

Color eyedropper Add-on for Firebug. Quickly get the hex value of any color in your browser.

This Mac OS X database management tool is the only db tool I need. Solid import/export support and execution summaries. HTTP tunneling makes Navicat a winner for developers with shared web hosting.

Downside? Navicat is Fugly.

A spreadsheet application included in iWork from Apple. Easy to use, full featured, hard to beat.

This raster editing tool is much less resource intensive than Photoshop and the interface is beautiful. Good for light design tasks such as cropping and image adjustments.

AND...the updates keep on coming.

I just started using LineForm from Freeverse for vector graphics. It has several advantages over Vector Designer, such as custom and artistic brushes, object navigator in the layers pane, and quick text resize by dragging. The shortcut keys are a little strange, but other than that a solid application.

UPDATE: 4/11 My love-hate relationship with LineForm came to an abrupt end this Spring when I replaced it with Adobe Illustrator for vector work. I loved the UI of LineForm, but the product is buggy - the undo command often fails or entire shapes will vanish from the screen.

Need to prep some photos for the web in a jiffy? ImageWell makes resizing and borders a snap. Drag and drop interface is intuitive and fast.

Best-in-Class screen measuring tools. Essential for layouts. Guides, rulers, and a color eyedropper make this an amazing little utility.

Essentially the OS X color mixing palette as a stand-alone app. Light weight and useful when you need to take a color sample with the eyedropper tool and lower the brightness or increase the saturation.

I never cared much for Acorn until version 3 was released which has Photoshop-like layer styles, good vector support, and some workflow shortcuts - like instant alpha. I am still not ready to replace Pixelmator, but Acorn is great for quick adjustments.

My Fontbook
My Fontbook is an online font viewer that provides some simple tools to scan and organize your font collection. It provides a really quick way to browse your installed fonts without shelling out cash or installing software.

AND...I made it.

Vector Designer
Vector graphics fast and cheap. Simple to use, export to major raster formats, most key vector tools except custom brushes. This is my tool primarily for user interface design.

UPDATE: 9/10 Lineform is my primary tool for fast vector work. I find the commands and the toolset better suit my workflow.

Other than being the default Mac image viewer, Preview has a couple of other tricks. Open a PDF and select 'Print to PDF' to remove encryption. In Finder copy a program icon then Command+N in Preview to get the icon image. Save as... to the format of your choice.

Things has replaced The Hit List for me as a task manager because it syncs between the MacBook, iPhone, and iPad. Most urgently, the developer of The Hit List stopped supporting the product, so I needed to find an alternative. I considered OmniFocus, but the UI was overly complicated for my tastes.

I keep all of my project notes in MacJoural, which has an iPad version on the way. I switched from the discontinued Journler, which I think is better, but what can you do?

Billings lets me time my work, track accounts, and send invoices simply and hassle free. It gets the job done and has an iPhone version which is icing on the cake.

Path Finder
It is like the Mac Finder - only way better. Split screen makes moving organizing files between directories simple. All manner of shortcuts and tabs add to the fun including a terminal window, recently accessed files list, preview, and in-depth file properties.

MindNode Pro
Elegant mind mapping. MindNode Pro just gets out of the way and let's you organized your thoughts. I could write a lecture on UI design using MindNode Pro as a case study. Mobile version available.

The Hit List
The Hit List is a sweet new Getting Things Done application. Add and organize tasks using tags and keyboard shortcuts. Add due dates and rely on the timer to discover how long things actually take.

UPDATE: I dropped this app because the developer is entirely unresponsive to his customers and development seems to have halted. Note to self: Investigate development house before investing in product. It is a shame to, because The Hit List was the Best task manager around.

Transmit is the gold standard for file transfer protocol. Great for publishing web sites, or weekend migrations.

MarsEdit is a very stable blog authoring client. Syncs with all major blog platforms. The ability to edit entries in HTML gives users fine control over the design of their posts.

Scrivener is designed for serious writers, and the organizational features of this tool are hard to beat for website content and marketing copy. Added bonus is that Scrivener is developed by a first-rate indie software house that offers frequent updates.

Pages is part of Apple's iWork suite. Pages easily bests MS Word by having an entirely pleasant user interface design. Great template collection, adjust image contrast/saturation inside the editor, great for proposal writing and professional invoices.

Snapz Pro
Need to produce a quick screencast with audio? I often do to demo new web sites and interfaces. Snapz Pro records, encodes, and it is dead simple to learn.

Web Snapper
Take full-page browser screenshots. Simple. It works.

Dropbox is the easiest way to get your files in the cloud for syncing, back-up, or sharing. Use the link on the left to register and we both get an extra 250MB fo' free.

Cheap international calls, a second phone number, video conferencing, file transfers. Free. We are living in the future.

The do-it-all chat client for Mac. Connects all your chat accounts and has a duck as an icon.

Times Pulp
Get your daily dose of RSS feeds in this beautiful and functional package. Not free like other readers, but so damn cool.

UPDATE: 9/10 I dropped this app in favor of Google Reader and for my iPad, where I read most of my news, the superb reader: Reeder.

UPDATE: 4/11 Times has been renamed Pulp because of a legal conflict and is awaiting re-release at the time of this writing.

Transfer huge files over the web to your colleagues or your cousin in St. Louis. All without messing with ftp.

UPDATE: 9/10 Dropped in favor of Dropbox, which is simply better.

Daisy Disk
A visual map of your disk usage. Helps identify and clear out the clutter.

This is like Activity Monitor, but displays details about what the process is and what it is doing. And a bunch of other stuff I have not found a use for yet.

Activity Monitor
The built in Mac OS X Activity Monitor is suitable for checking memory usage across browsers. Find it under Applications>Utilities.

Network Utility
Built in Mac network tools. Among other functions are Whois, Ping, Lookup. Great for troubleshooing your LAN or DNS transfers. Find it under Utilities.

Did you forget that Mac OS X is built on Linux? Terminal is about as generic as it gets, but indispensable.