The size and complexity of Web sites is increasing dramatically. Nowadays, most Web sites don’t consist of just static HTML pages with hyperlinks. Instead, they’re sophisticated and interactive systems with dynamic databases, administration backend and other bells and whistles. Developing such applications takes much time and effort and is a real challenge to those lacking development skills.
But the good news is that you can free yourself from some of the programming complexity or even code less to produce quality web sites and applications. In this post we take a look at 8 ways you can reduce hand coding.
Scripts are full-featured web applications that can be downloaded either for free or a fee and installed on your own server. They provide the easiest way to launch a web site or add functionalities to an existing one without any hand coding. You’ll find scripts for virtually any type of web site from photo galleries scripts to Facebook clone scripts on HotScripts.
Plugins, Modules and Components
When scripts fail to provide the customization or tweaks you require, you can resort to using their plug-ins/modules. Most popular scripts offer a plugin system, which can be installed and configured to extend the existing built-in features. For example, WordPress has over 10,000 plugins making it infinitely extensible.
One-click Script Installers
If installing and configuring scripts still presents a level of technical complexity for you, then one-click script installers will help you install and upgrade your scripts automatically. A lot of web hosting companies already provide automated script installation software like Fantastico, but if yours doesn’t then you can always turn to SimpleScripts. SimpleScripts offers remote script installation for over 70 popular open source scripts to your existing web hosting account. It also has an automated notification feature that will inform you whenever a new script version is available.
Web Widgets are codes that you can copy and paste into any HTML web site to display content or add interactivity to your site. For example, with a few lines of readily available codes, you can add a voting poll to your site, weather forecast, twitter stream of your followers or even videos and Flash games to your site. A common example if the ‘Tweet this’ button you’ll find on many blogs including the HotScripts blog. You can find a huge collection of widgets at widgetbox.com. Some sites will use different terminology for widgets – Google calls widgets ‘Google Gadgets’ while others might refer to widgets as Web Apps.
A common misconception of APIs is that they are hard to use. While this holds true for certain APIs, there are however a lot of APIs that can bring added-features to your sites with just a few lines of code. Most API providers nowadays provide ample of documentation and sample codes and to make this even easier. For example the Google Maps API is extremely easy to understand and use. If you’re looking for APIs, remember to check programmableweb.com. (They also showcase Mashups which are basically combination of different APIs).
Frameworks & Libraries
Frameworks and libraries offer rapid application development by providing reusable code wrapped in either functions or API. They are designed to support the development of dynamic web sites, web applications and web services. Framework helps a lot in alleviating the overhead associated in developing web application like database access, templating framework, user authentication, etc. If you’re looking for the most popular web frameworks for the different programming platforms, take a look at this post.
Website builders can be pretty handy to quickly generate a web site without touching a single line of code. Some website builders are offered as SaaS applications whereby which you can signup and choose different template designs and use the built-in CMS to manage your content. They offer a much cheaper alternative to a custom design and coded websites. There are also several website builders scripts that you can install on your own server and use it to easily launch new sites. Here’s our collection of PHP website builders scripts.
Writing a simple database application in can take a lot of time and effort – you will have to design the HTML form, write queries, implement validation/error handling, test the application, etc. You can save yourself a lot of time and reduce development cost if you use a code generator. Code generators are desktop or web-based applications that once installed will allow you to define your database and it will automatically generate all the required HTML, CSS and server-side files. You can then simply update these files to your server and get complete running applications in a few minutes. Check out our showcase of PHP code generators.