Can Web Designers Use Linux to Build an Effective Site?

Want to build a better website? We look at Linux tools that offer the graphics and development features you need to go open source all the way.
Posted November 21, 2011

Matt Hartley

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There are many ways to design a website. The most skilled among us are best-known for being able to code a website using nothing but a text editor. However, for those of us who are less skilled in this area, the right software tools can make all the difference.

In this article, I'll explore the benefits of using a simple text editor,as well as look at the value of various website creation applications available for Linux. Remember, just because there are various web editors available for Linux, doesn't mean that these applications are going to work as expected. I'll shine some light on what's working, what isn't and why.

It All Starts With Graphics

I don't care who you are, at some level you're going to need a decent image editor for web design. Based on my own layman's experience with web design, I've found this to be an unavoidable reality. The good news is that modern Linux desktops offer a few different options from which to choose from.

The first application I turn to is called GIMP. Despite any of the perceived shortcomings reported by frequent Photoshop users, this is a great go-to image editor. Plus, if you haven't tried either application youwon't need to worry about "unlearning" anything Photoshop-related. GIMP allows web developers running a Linux desktop to make nearly any change to an image you can think of with relative ease. And anything that GIMP is missing, can likely be handled by installing the right GIMP plugin.

If you're finding that creating something with vector graphics is better-suited to your web project, then odds are you'll end up using an application called Inkscape. The Inkscape application is useful when you're working up a new graphic without the benefit of an image from which you'd otherwise manipulate. Offering much of the same functionality as Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape offers one critical feature that it's closed source counterparts are lacking – forgoing the hefty price tag. Unlike Illustrator, Inscape offers a 100% free alternative to web designers needing access to decent vector graphics software.

Web Development Tools

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Those of you looking to roll up your sleeves and dive right into your projects with a web development IDE should consider Aptana Studio. This software provides web developers with the real-world tools needed to create fully functional web apps. This isn't to say that you can't use Aptana Studio to create a static website, rather using it for this alone would be a waste of its overall functionality. This software is a fantastic alternative to Dreamweaver and other similar programs found on Windows.

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Tags: Web development, Web design, open source, Linux

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