What Are Software Development Tools?

As sales of mobile apps, PC and console games, and business suites continue to drive an era hailed by many as the software development gold rush, the importance of software development tools only continues to grow. The mobile app market itself is projected to reach a net value of at least $15 billion by 2013 and, with major companies still feverishly bringing their mobile innovations to the market, there are no signs of this sector slowing down anytime soon.

Software Development Kits

Software development tools are themselves packages of professional software which aid in the design, programming, and testing of applications, games and utilities. They often come optimized for the types of projects they are used to create, and can range in price from free shareware setups to professional suites costing several thousands of dollars. Popular and effective software development tools may come bundled into software development kits. Professional development studios may buy several licenses for these kits so as to allow their designers to use them simultaneously throughout the course of developing a project.

Although software development packages are very powerful and robust, meaning they offer many options of customizing minute aspects and behaviors of the software being developed, they require judicious use by a skilled professional who is well versed in the software components demanded by the project at hand. Otherwise, redundancies, bugs or relatively inefficient uses of code are likely to occur.

How Can Software Development Tools Help Your Business Succeed?

Software development tools significantly reduce the amount of time and guesswork that goes into successfully designing, programming, testing and finalizing a project. Because designers don't have to spend any time producing the software tools themselves, they are free to focus all their energy on the current project. Most software tools achieve this time saving streamlining for their users by acting as easier-to-use interfaces between the developers and the actual code of the project. As a basic example, instead of having to type out explicit and complicated instructions for the dimensions and specifications of a line, the designer could use one of the software tools to simply draw the line with the mouse. The software could then extract the mathematical specifications of the line on its own, essentially bearing the brunt of the tedium for the designer.

Developer's Suite

Software development tools are also a major help when it comes time to begin debugging and testing a project. Minor errors and code clashes are inevitable parts of the design process, but good software can save a designer headaches by flagging down and pointing out problematic sections of code. A designer can then proceed in an organized manner through the various problems that the software has itself spotted.

Different Tools for Different Tasks

Because many different kinds of projects (games, utilities, operating systems, mobile apps) and many different kinds of platforms (mobile phones, laptops, windows or non-windows machines, and game consoles) each have their own abilities, languages, strengths and limits, there are predictably many different kinds of software development tools. Therefore, some companies make their sole business out of the production, testing and sale of cutting edge development packages.


Now, How Can I Find Free Software Development Tools for Casual Use?

If you are looking for free software development tools, here are some of your best bets. These are ones I have stumbled across myself and there are certainly others out there.

Web Developers: Check out Nvu, which is a robust but totally free website building engine, with support for rich views, html code view and full previews. While not exactly as powerful as Dreamweaver, Nvu is nevertheless an excellent choice for someone who either knows what their doing and does not want to drop big chunks of money on the top of the line developer's suites, or for someone who is interested in tinkering with web site design out of curiosity. Others have had success with KompoZer, which is touted as Nvu's unofficial fixed-up version.

Graphic Editors: The Gimp 2.2.13 is shareware which is pretty adept at basic image manipulation and enhancing and retouching photos. If you want to give this one a shot, you must first download the Gimp installers as well as th GTK+ Runtime Environment so that your program will work properly.

If you are looking for a more photo-focused option, try Picasa 2.7 which is web-based but very sleek and polished. It has auto-organize features that will sort your albums for you. Best of all, your work and albums can be easily shared with friends and family online.

As a general tip for finding free software tools online, typing as much into google will return a good number of blogs that specialize in compiling this kind of information.