10 Must-Have Tools For Freelance Programmers

by Sunny Hoi

Small businesses can’t always afford to pay high prices for a full-time software programmer. Thus, freelancers can make some good money doing small projects.

Freelance programming is tough work, but the payments are great for talented coders and web developers.

Here are ten must-have tools a freelance coder should use to ensure smooth operations of the small business:

1. Visual Studio (Integrated Development Environment aka IDE, Code Editor.) and Notepad ++ (Text and source code editor.)

Microsoft Visual Studio is the quintessential code editor for .NET, which comprises the C# and VB.NET languages. Microsoft provides a freeware and registerware version called Visual Studio Express, which is adequate for small projects. The Express edition does not incorporate collaboration tools such as Team Foundation Server (TFS) for time-tracking. Timetracker permits tracking easily on work items. However, such tools aren’t essential for small projects.

Small businesses that are dependent on a Windows infrastructure typically ask for web-based software coded in .NET to keep all software consistent.

Notepad++ is primarily used for PHP projects. This free source code editor is also a must-have tool since it is useful for editing WordPress code and plugins. Notepad++ eases WordPress customizations. The editor can also be used for numerous languages like Java, XML, Classic ASP, and JSON.

2. Apache and Internet Information Service (IIS)

The majority of freelance programming jobs emphasizes on PHP or .NET coding. Most small enterprise owners are seeking for small websites to promote their enterprises.

The two primary web server applications are Apache and IIS. The usefulness of these two platforms is demonstrated by their ability to allow the web developer to test the sites prior launching them on the client’s live server. Apache is largely for PHP, and Internet Information Service runs Microsoft projects. The applications can be installed on the local computer or a web server set up in one’s home.

3. Cloud Storage Service

Losing any code while in the middle of a project can be disastrous. Whether this loss is due to a hardware failure or system crash is one that needs to be avoided to maintain and advance the career prosperity of the coder. Thus, it is imperative to utilize a cloud storage service like Google Drive which is connected to a Google account.

Google Drive is useful for backing up projects as the freelancer finishes coding. Code backups will provide reassurances that if a hard drive fails, there wouldn’t be any dissatisfaction expressed by the client.

Since Google Drive is a cloud-based service, it also has the benefit of allowing the freelance programmer to pull up code from any computer that is connected to the Internet.

4. Instant Messenger

Programming requires a lot of questions. Hence, using an instant messenger (IM) is essential for discussing any questions or concerns with the clients. The most popular option is Skype which is typically used for business communications. Nevertheless, any IM software will suffice as long as the clients also have the software installed on their devices.

5. Microsoft Windows Professional Edition

The majority of Windows-based computers use Windows Home or Home Premium. A limitation of these two versions is that they do not run IIS which hinders the web developer from testing his web applications on the default versions. A freelancer that needs to program for Microsoft projects needs to upgrade to the Professional version.

Windows Professional allows running websites on the local computer for the testing of code.

6. Virtual Private Server (VPS)

A Virtual Private Server allows you to present the product to the client. The VPS permits configuring the virtual server with custom settings, granting the freedom to set up as many sites as one requires. A VPS allows the installation of the final product and show it to the client prior final deployment.

7. Dual Monitors

Dual monitors are essential for every coder since they provide them the comfort of looking up references on one monitor while programming on the other. The second monitor can also be used as a television for those who would like a little bit of entertainment while they are coding. Even the veteran programmers will find dual monitors in their arsenal.

8. A Lightweight Laptop

A lightweight laptop is useful when the freelancer travels. Being able to monitor any sites the coder controls and using the laptop as a temporary coding tool are features of a convenient laptop. More importantly, a laptop allows the coder always to be available to his clients.

9. Spreadsheet Software

A freelancer needs to retain records of his finances. Hence, calculating weekly financial goals and retaining track of progress in a spreadsheet is vital. Keeping track of the bids and the payment deadline are also important.

These spreadsheets will assist the freelancer in knowing how much tax is owed annually. Moreover, they will assist in budgeting for monthly bills. Spreadsheets also assist in keeping track of client payments, thus allows the freelancer to make the clear decision of when to bill clients each month.

10. PayPal Account

Given that PayPal is popular, it comes to no surprise that most small businesses will use PayPal to send payments for a freelancer’s work. It’s crucial for the freelance programmer to select a business account in order to avoid being flagged when receiving large payments. PayPal is also handy since it provides merchant tools that can be used to take payments on the freelancer’s site.

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