30+ Awesome Apps for Designers and Developers

Windows is a great platform to build your design and development business. It’s cheap, runs on older hardware and supports legacy software. Besides, there are hundreds of useful apps available from popular indie developers and a lot of open source alternatives are available as well. While the quality of the apps is impeccable, they might not sport a gorgeous UI.

For that reason alone, using a Windows PC for production is perceived as uncool. I personally don’t care as long as the job gets done. So do a lot of creative people and that’s the reason we have rounded up a list of killer apps that could boost your creativity as well as productivity. Follow me after the fold to check them out!

Utilities

Pencil

Pencil

Pencil

Pencil is not the regular vector graphic app. It lets you create traditional hand-drawn cartoons and animations using both bitmap and vector graphics. Consider this to be the open source, stripped down version of Flash!

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

ColorPic

ColorPic

ColorPic

Apparently it’s tough to use a color picker in high resolution monitors. That’s why ColorPic comes with a fabulous resizable magnifier. The app can grab palettes of up to 16 colors at once and use four advanced color mixers to select a spectrum of possibilities. It works well with all modern web browsers and image editors like Photoshop.

Price : Free
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

DrawPlus

DrawPlus

DrawPlus

DrawPlus is an all in one app for your designing needs. You can go nuts drawing vector art, sketching ideas, designing logos & graphics, painting all you like using the app. I liked the fact that it can turn photos into artwork and create Flash animations too!

Price : $108
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

DebugBar

DebugBar

DebugBar

Developing for the Internet Explorer is a disaster. It has gotten better over the years, but there aren’t any proper tools to make the job easier. Atleast on the debugging front you have got the DebugBar to your rescue. The app has got all the inspectors – DOM, HTTP, Javascript (the console too!). The app is free for personal use, but if you plan to use it for commercial purposes, you will have to pay up.

Price : From 59 Euros
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

Breevy

Breevy

Breevy

So there are a couple of Mac apps that make every developer on Windows go gaga. I’m sure TextExpander is one. Breevy is a text expander for Windows that helps you type faster and more accurately by allowing you to abbreviate long words and phrases. Among other bells and whistles, the app lets you import existing snippets from TextExpander too!

Price : $34.95
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

FireBug

Firebug

Firebug

Yep, I did it again! FireBug is another dynamite addon to Firefox. It offers a wealth of tools for you to edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. You can measure and illustrate margins, borders, padding etc. and preview all the changes live. Feel the page is loading slow for some reason? The network activity monitor offers a file by file breakdown of loadtimes.

Price : Free
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

FontCreator

FontCreator

FontCreator

As the name clearly implies, FontCreator’s job is to help you create your own fonts, redesign existing characters, edit the spacing and much more. You don’t have to create fonts from scratch, but import scanned images of a signature or logo, or make a font from your own handwriting. But I can’t understand why the developers would price the Home version at $79, eventhough it cannot be used for commercial purposes.

Price : From $79
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

WampServer

WampServer

WampServer

For those developing in PHP, WampServer is a dream come true. In a couple of clicks, the app creates a working LAMP stack, without the need for Linux. Not the coolest looking software around, but is pretty user friendly and even beginners can set up a development environment in a few minutes.

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

XAMPP

XAMPP

XAMPP

If you are looking for a better looking, minimalistic webserver app that is jam packed with features, then XAMPP is the one you should go for. On top of the traditional PHP, MySQL, PhpMyadmin stack, you get FileZilla FTP server and Tomcat server in the package.

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

Image Viewers

IrfanView

IrfanView

IrfanView

IrfanView could very well be the most popular image viewer in the world. It has been around for so many years and is capable of showing you images of any file type. Despite having a ugly icon and a dated interface, this image viewer is completely customizable with a host of plugins and toolbar icons (still looks ugly though). Did I mention it can play video and audio too?

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

Picasa

Picasa

Picasa

Picasa is a free photo editing software from Google that makes your pictures look great. It comes with image editing capabilities that could serve only the casual user, but is perfect for cataloging and sharing all your images. The ability to add name and geo tags ensure that all your images are easily discoverable.

Price : Free
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

ACDSee

ACDSee

ACDSee

ACDSee is my personal favorite and is around for as long as IrfanView. Choose from more than 20 special effect filters to add some dazzle to your images if that’s up your alley. Features like selective editing, map view (using the geo tags) are some of its highlights. A bit on the pricier side, but with a gamut of features and an intuitive interface, the app is a must have if you are serious about your image collection.

Price : $79.99
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

Image and Graphic Editors

GIMP

GIMP

GIMP

GIMP (or is it gimp?) is an open source image and graphics editor that could give Photoshop a run for its money. The interface is extremely user friendly and can be customized to your needs. The app supports a bunch of hardware designed exclusively to help you with design and is quite resourceful for digital retouching and photo enhancement. Thanks to the GIMP plugin repository, you can get a ton of extensions for free!

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

Paint.NET

Paint.NET

Paint.NET

Paint.NET is another equally popular image editor. The app not only tries to match Photoshop’s features, but also looks a lot like it. A super friendly user interface with layers, unlimited undo, special effects combined with a torrent of tutorials, a vibrant community and a handful of plugins make Paint.NET a compelling choice.

Price : Free
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

Inkscape

Inkscape

Inkscape

Inkscape is an acclaimed graphics editor that is open source and with this one installed, you won’t be missing Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. The app is cross platform and there is a dedicated space in their website showcasing all the great works of art created using Inkscape.

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

Photoscape

Photoscape

Photoscape

Photoscape is a fun and easy photo editing software that enables you to fix and enhance photos. The app helps you batch edit photos and create GIF images by combining multiple photos together. Besides possessing the regular features of an image editor, Photoscape also functions as a color picker and screen grabber.

Price : Free
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

Blender

Blender

Blender

Blender is a open source 3D content creation suite that is so powerful, people have made full length animated movies using it. From shading, physics, particles to modelling and rendering, Blender has everything that is available in a competing premium 3D animation suite, for free.

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

FTP

FileZilla

FileZilla

FileZilla

FileZilla is a reliable FTP program that is a dependable client as well as a server. With its tabbed interface and drag and drop support, the app is ideal for transferring large files (greater than 4 GB). The app supports IPv6 and is available in a lot of international languages.

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

SmartFTP

SmartFTP

SmartFTP

SmartFTP is a File Transfer Protocol client which can double as a FTPS, SFTP, SSH, Terminal client too. Be it for transferring files over the local network or the Internet, the app works so seamlessly. It was my go to client until I discovered FireFTP and I particularly like the transfer queue and auto reconnect features!

Price : Starts at $36.95
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

FireFTP

FireFTP

FireFTP

FireFTP is a plugin for the popular Firefox browser. Though it cannot work standalone like its competitors, the app the is so very functional and then some. Despite its tiny footprint, FireFTP can handle features like FXP, file hashing, file compression, timestamp synchronization etc. with gusto!

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

WinSCP

WinSCP

WinSCP

In addition to all the standard FTP related functionalities, WinSCP also offers scripting and basic file manager functionality. You can use either the GUI or the command line for your file transfer needs. Don’t let the age old homepage of theirs fool you, WinSCP’s app looks way better in comparison to its homepage.

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

Design Suites

Adobe Creative Suite

Adobe Creative Suite

Adobe Creative Suite

I guess this one hardly needs any introduction. Adobe’s Creative Suite and the individual apps that are part of it are known to be of world class quality. Even with an unbelievably high price tag, their tools help designers create the best in everything – from ebooks, websites to mobile apps. The Design or Web Premium offerings should be right up the alley of every designer and developer.

Price : From $399
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

Microsoft Expression Studio

Microsoft Expression Studio

Microsoft Expression Studio

Expression Studio from Microsoft is modelled close to Adobe’s Creative Suite. They have various editions of the suite and the one for web professionals provides all the tools you need to build high quality dynamic, interactive sites, create vector or bitmap graphics, encode high quality video or easily add Silverlight and Flash elements for enhanced interactivity. It is priced exorbitantly, at times it’s closer to Adobe’s pricing!

Price : From $149
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

Code Editors

CoffeeCup HTML Editor

CoffeeCup HTML Editor

CoffeeCup HTML Editor

CoffeCup is a well known development house for the Windows platform and the HTML editor is their flagship product. By taking advantage of their intuitive tools like toolbars, right-click menus and keyboard shortcuts you can add elements to your pages in a snap. Each web page designed can be checked in almost all browser engines, using their split screen view.

Price : $49
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

Notepad++

Notepad++

Notepad++

Notepad++ is the darling of developers, designers and those who don’t know an inkling of the two. The app is a great alternative to the simple, but useless notepad app. It supports a lot of programming languages and its multiple tabs, syntax highlighting among hundreds of other features, making it an ideal source code editor. By keeping the CPU load to the minimum, the app strives to make your coding as green as possible.

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

KompoZer

KompoZer

KompoZer

Powered by Mozilla, KompoZer is a complete web authoring system that combines web file management and easy-to-use WYSIWYG web page editing. The app comes with tabs, color picker, customizable toolbars and more. The integrated FTP manager helps you upload, edit or update web pages on the fly.

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

Bluefish Editor

Bluefish Editor

Bluefish Editor

With support for multiple programming and markup languages , Bluefish is a resourceful editor. The app is lean, mean, has a functional GUI and runs on every available operating system in the planet. Fullscreen editing, extreme remote editing capabilities, unlimited undo/redo are just a few among the many things Bluefish can do.

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

CSSed

CSSed

CSSed

Don’t let the name fool you, CSSed isn’t only for editing CSS files. The app can also be used as an editor for HTML, XML, Python, PERL and more. Essential features like syntax highlighting, syntax validation, quick CSS properties and values insertion, auto-completion make CSSed a great tool for design and development.

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

IDE

Aptana

Aptana

Aptana

Arguably the most poplar IDE on Windows, Aptana is good looking and feature rich. A bit bloated it might be, but the app is perfect for developing in all modern web technologies including HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, Ruby, Rails, PHP and Python. The IDE can be customized to each one of these languages and comes with git integration for version control, built in terminal view and a really powerful debugger.

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

NetBeans

NetBeans

NetBeans

Known for being the crowd favorite Java development tool, NetBeans IDE is equally great with other dynamic programming languages too. A good looking user interface isn’t something the app is going for, but is good at code refactoring, parsing and smart code completion. The interface is extremely customizable and you can work on a lot of popular web development frameworks with ease.

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

Eclipse

Eclipse

Eclipse

Developing for the Android ecosystem took Eclipse to the top in no time. Based on the language you are working in, there are a variety of flavors of the IDE to choose from. If you are one among the very few who find something missing from the IDE, there is a marketplace for plugins to extend it. There are over a thousand plugins available and you can install them by just dragging and dropping it into the workspace.

Price : Open Source
Free or Trial Version Available? : Yes

Share Your Thoughts!

Why is Windows your favorite platform for design and development? Got any more great apps to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below and thank you so much for reading!