Over the last few years Ive been asked about the tools I use to create the Joomla templates here at Joomlabamboo, and the following is a small collection of apps that I use daily for all aspects of our web development. Im a huge mac fan so some of these apps are only available for mac users and Id be keen to hear from pc users what they use instead. This is by no means a definitive list of apps for web development but working with these apps is second nature now and I think Id have to come across an app that blew my mind to change up this work flow.
At the center of my template arsenal is the venerable CSS Edit from Mac Rabbit. I've been using CSS Edit since it was in Beta and its almost like a a third arm for me now. It would be rare for my computer to be on and CSS Edit not also be open. I know there are some other apps that have the same or a similar feature set but I just love the interface, live preview and xray. CSS Edit is crucial for any sort of development or troubleshooting - I would use CSS Edit almost as much as I use firebug for problem solving css issues in our templates. There are a number of tutorials for CSS Edit in the pipeline so stay tuned for them in the next few weeks.
For editing the html and PHP in a Joomla template on my local server I use the free opensource application called Smultron. I use Coda for working on the live server but Ill discuss this in a little bit. There are plenty of good code editors for Mac, as well as apps that handle both css and html/php, and while most people swear by Text Mate or Text Wrangler, I just love Smultron. Smultron itself has sadly ceased development but for the time being it satisfies my needs with project management, code snippets and text hiliting.
The crew at Panic calls Coda a one window web development and its hands down the best app Ive used to manage and access my sites via ftp and also edit documents and files online. As I just mentioned I use Smultron for local development and Coda for the live site. This workflow really came out of not being able to quickly determine whether a file that was open in Smultron was a file on a live site or a local file - and yes there were a few occasions when I was editing a live file thinking it was local and only narrowly escaped severe consequences for making and saving the wrong edit to a live site. Coda has the potential to be a one stop shop for editing Joomla template buts I still prefer the way that CSS Edit handles css (esp live preview) and as I said using multiple apps makes it much easier for me to manage live vs local servers in my workflow.
Using Fireworks for web mockups just seems a natural part of life now and I know that Photoshop is often seen as the beez knees for design mockups I just love Fireworks' ease of use. Again its probably more out of habit than anything else but I find Fireworks easily the quickest way for me to mockup simple or complex webdesigns that use vectors, typography and images. I know there are other free and open source image editors out there but Fireworks suits me fine.
The last, almost silent partner, in this whole setup is my MAMP installation. Mamp is the mac equivalent of a WAMP (Windows Apache MYSQL PHP) installation for windows and basically runs Joomla, Wordpress or any CMS platform that uses a database or php. It kind of goes without saying that I would use this but its such an intrinsic part to my development and testing that it should probably be at the top of the list. I personally use Mamp Pro but the free basic version of Mamp is enough.
Mamp is free for the basic version or $59 USD for the Pro version.
With the exception of Fireworks what I really like about this kit is that its cheap. In fact if you wanted to do everything these apps do you could probably do it 100% without a need to purchase any apps, but for the value these apps present for $39 for CSS Edit and $99 for Coda it is really a pretty amazing deal.
As I mentioned at the top of the post Im keen to hear of how you develop for Joomla or for the web in general plus any solid pc options for the mac only applications Ive mentioned here.