Web Dev Tools: Best of 2019

Website Monitoring

There's really no reason to roll your own monitoring in this day and age unless you have access (and money) for servers on another hosting provider. Even then, it's messy. Who watches the watcher? The watcher's—watcher's—watcher?

It's a waste of time if you're doing it right.

I've used Pingdom and Uptime Robot, and UR wins. Mostly on cost, sure. Pingdom always felt like they were twiddling their mustache, scheming of a new price structure to squeeze their customers. To be fair, I don't even know why this bothered me. It wasn't my money. Feature-wise, the two options are similar.

Winner: Uptime Robot

Accessibility

If you work in any field that even remotely touches education or government, you probably know accessibility is a big deal. While there's no substitute for actually tuning your site with a screen reader, automated testing is going to get you close.

Thus far, my favorite tool is the WAVE browser extension from WebAIM. The great thing about running in an extension is I can test template development, within the local development environment, no trouble. This is really where SaaS solutions fall flat. Other tools excel at automation of large swaths of content, WAVE is best when you need to focus on the UI.

Winner: WAVE browser extension

Performance

As a long time Firefox user, I've got to tip my hat to the Chrome team here. The only reason open Chrome is for the auditing tools, aka Lighthouse. Similar to WAVE, running against localhost is a killer feature. Beyond that, the tools are intuitive. I may not agree with every suggestion, but that's par for the course. I've been arguing with perf-tools since the release of YSlow for Firebug.

Winner: Chrome Developer Tools

Linux Server

Time to make some enemies. While not an enthusiast, I've worked on many a Linux server; Arch, vanilla Debian, CentOS/RHEL. In 2019, I'm most impressed with Ubuntu Server. Hey Ben, you say, but isn't Ubuntu is the devil? Perhaps. Give the the devil its due, Ubuntu way out in front of HTTP 2 support in 16.04, and always seems to have a default install of Python that isn't from the dark ages. Apt is as reliable a package manager as any. The LTS builds are supported long enough on the public channel with paid options to extend beyond the standard five years. More importantly, it stays out of the way as a well behaved VPS should. Maybe the hate is directed at desktop... I don't know. Ubuntu is very good as a webserver.

Winner: Ubuntu Server

Link Checker

Come on. You saw this coming... You think I'm above a splash of content marketing? Think again. I'm trying to get the word out here. Of course, the best link checker of all time is InterroBot. Does anything else even come close? If you haven't tried InterroBot, give it a shot. 9/10 would recommend.

Winner: InterroBot