14 excellent WordPress development tools and site maintenance software options

What's in your toolkit?

Building and maintaining WordPress websites is a complex undertaking involving many tasks. How fast and well you can perform them has a direct impact on how many clients and projects you can take on, and consequently, your bottom line.

Like other craftsmen, WordPress professionals are only as good as their toolset.

 

With the above in mind, in this article, I will provide you with a number of excellent WordPress development tools and site maintenance software options that can seriously improve your workflow.

Ready to begin? Let’s get cracking!

Local development environments

Local WordPress installs are fast and safe environments for testing themes, plugins and site changes. Plus, without the need for an Internet connection, they enable you to work from anywhere.

DesktopServer

DesktopServer for Local Development

In this category, DesktopServer is a clear winner. Unlike other local environments, it is geared specifically towards WordPress development instead of web development at large.

The program can create websites in a matter of seconds, complete with database and WordPress files. As if that wasn’t enough, it also comes with live site imports, remote deployment, and other advanced features.

XAMPP 

XAMPP for WordPress Development

A free alternative to DesktopServer, XAMPP will set up a local Apache server and MySQL environment in no time. It’s easy to handle and much quicker to set up than installing its components one by one.

Boilerplates

A boilerplate is a piece of code that can be used over and over again to create working programs with less programming effort. There are several good options for WordPress development available.

Underscores

Underscores Theme

The _s or Underscores theme serves as boilerplate for theme development. It consists of templates, layouts and minimal CSS — everything you need to get started quickly.

The best part is that the theme was recently extended with specific templates. If you plan to create a magazine, portfolio, blog or business theme, Underscores will give you a considerable head start.

WordPress Plugin Boilerplate

WordPress Plugin Boilerplate for Plugin Development

What Underscores is for themes, WPPB is for plugins — a foundation for building high-quality WordPress products. The boilerplate is up to WordPress coding standards, well-organized and object-oriented.

What’s even better is the accompanying boilerplate generator:

WP Boilerplate Generator for Plugin Development

Merely input your plugin information (name, slug, author, etc.) and you will receive a zip file with your customized starter plugin.

Code editors

A good code editor is the most basic tool of any developer. Therefore, only the best of the best will do.

PhpStorm

PhpStorm

Not so much code editor as fully-integrated IDE, PhpStorm works perfectly for WordPress development. It is fluent in both PHP and JavaScript, making it fit for both the present and future of WordPress.

It also comes with code completion, debugging, unit testing, version control, a REST client along with other tools, and speaks HTML, CSS, Sass, Less and more.

Notepad++

Notepad++

This popular free alternative is by default more suitable for casual coding. However, its many powerful extensions can turn Notepad++ into a tool for professionals. Definitely worth a look.

Note: For another interesting alternative, check out Synchi, a WordPress-internal IDE.

Browser development tools

Browser-internal developer tools used to be a thing of add-ons and extensions, but today’s major browsers offer them out of the box.

Chrome Developer Tools

Chrome Developer Tools

Chrome’s tool suite can do all the usual tasks expected of a development tool, however, its standout feature is surely the mobile design testing tool.

Chrome Mobile Design Testing Tool

It enables you to test your design for particular devices or custom screen sizes, and can even simulate bad connections. Extremely useful!

Firefox Developer Tools

Firefox Developer Tools

Of course, Firefox has its own toolset, and it comes with all the standard features for inspecting and debugging. While solid in its own right, Chrome really knocked it out of the park here.

Database management

The real heart of any WordPress site is its database. Therefore, it’s highly important to have the right means to take care of it.

phpMyAdmin

phpMyAdmin for Database Management

phpMyAdmin is one of the most popular solutions for database management for good reason. The easy-to-use interface makes performing complex MySQL extremely simple. A viable option for both professionals and newbies.

Adminer

Adminer Database Management

Here we have a direct competitor of phpMyAdmin which claims to be slicker, faster and more secure. With everything packed into one file, it is definitely easier to set up.

FTP clients

For managing WordPress files on your server, a good FTP client is a must-have.

Filezilla

Filezilla for FTP Management

An open source and cross-platform FTP client, FileZilla is well maintained and frequently updated. It also supports several protocols including SFTP, can transfer files up to 4GB, and allows remote editing.

Cyberduck (Mac)

Cyberduck

Cyberduck was designed specifically for Apple machines, resulting in an exceptional experience. It also integrates with external editors and can connect to cloud servers.

Backup tools

I probably don’t have to tell you about the importance of regular backups. Fortunately, WordPress offers many options for that.

WP-DBManager

WP-DBManager

This plugin is a popular solution that can optimize, repair, backup, restore and drop databases as well as run queries — all from inside WordPress dashboard. Automatic task scheduling is also available.

BackUpWordPress

BackUpWordPress

The WordPress.org repository isn’t short of backup plugins, but BackUpWordPress, in particular, stands out as a top candidate for your consideration. It offers a completely free full-site backup solution.

Conclusion

Building and maintaining websites can be a complex and daunting task. However, with the right WordPress development tools, it can get a lot easier. With this list, you have them at your disposal.

I encourage you to test drive any of the options above and see how they can improve your personal workflow. Upgrading your tools can make a real difference as I am sure you will see.

What are your must-have tools for creating and maintaining WordPress websites? Let us know in the comments!

Image by: Josep Ma. Rosell via Compfight cc

Tom Ewer
Tom Ewer is a freelance writer, online entrepreneur, and the founder of Leaving Work Behind and WordCandy. He has been obsessed with WordPress since he first laid eyes on it, and has been writing educational and informative content for WordPress users since 2011. When he's not running his businesses, you're likely to find him outdoors somewhere – as far away from a screen as possible!