Open source Web development tools have come a long way. The open source community offers a huge array of applications that are useful to Web developers and designers. In many cases, these open source tools are even more widely used than their closed source counterparts. And some open source Web tools don’t even have any real closed source competitors.
As these tools mature, it’s becoming more and more difficult to sort them into categories. Some blogging platforms are robust enough to build an entire site. Content management systems often have some features you usually find in Web app development frameworks, and text editors begin to look more and more like full integrated development environments (IDEs).
While that makes it tougher to organize our lists, it’s good news for designers and developers. As Web tools offer more features, it makes Web professionals’ jobs easier, and it opens up new opportunities for hobbyist and home users whose coding skills might not be as well developed.
Here are 56 of the best open source Web development and design tools that provide good alternatives to popular commercial, closed source software.
1. WordPress Replaces: TypePad One of the most popular blogging platforms, WordPress is currently the home of more than 25 million blogs. It also offers enough template options and special features that some people use it to host their entire sites. Operating System: OS Independent
2. MovableType Replaces: TypePad MovableType bills itself as an "all-in-one social publishing platform" with Web site creation, content management and social networking features, in addition to its blog publishing features. It shares some code with TypePad. Operating System: OS Independent
3. LifeType Replaces: TypePad While it doesn’t offer free hosting like WordPress and MoveableType, LifeType does offer an excellent platform for creating your own blog or even an entire Web site. Key features include an easy-to-use WYSIWYG interface, integrated media management, a good template library, built-in anti-spam, and support for multiple authors. Operating System: OS Independent
4. Firefox Replaces: Internet Explorer According to the latest figures from NetApplications, about 23 percent of all people on the Web use the Firefox browser. Its key benefits over Internet Explorer are its speed, security and huge library of add-ons and themes. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X
5. Chromium Replaces: Internet Explorer Chromium is the open source project behind Google’s Chrome browser, and it’s also the base for several other, less popular open source browsers. It’s best known for being lightweight and fast. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X, ChromeOS
6. K-Meleon Replaces: Internet Explorer Very similar to Firefox, K-Meleon aims to let the user have absolute control over how the browser looks and feels. It also lets you choose whether to use a Favorites, Hotlist, and/or Bookmarks list, and it supports mouse gestures. Operating System: Windows
7. DokuWiki Replaces: Confluence, SamePage This Wiki-only app is designed to help small groups create documentation for their projects. It’s simple but effective. The DokuWiki Web site also offers a Wizard to help users compare Wiki software. Operating System: OS Independent
8. MediaWiki Replaces: Confluence, SamePage The software that runs Wikipedia, MediaWiki offers a very familiar interface, but can also be customized with a number of skins. It scales to handle a lot of traffic and is designed to run on a large server farm. Operating System: Windows, Linux/Unix, OS X
9. MindTouch Replaces: Sharepoint, IBM Lotus MindTouch Core (the open-source version of the company’s flagship product) includes a Wiki, development platform and Web services framework. It’s designed to improve enterprise collaboration. Operating System: Windows, Linux
10. TikiWiki Replaces: Confluence, SamePage In addition to Wiki functionality, this Groupware app also includes modules for forums, blogs, articles, image galleries, map servers, bug tracking, rss feeds and more. Users have downloaded it more than 800,000 times, and it runs tens of thousands of sites, including the Firefox support site. Operating System: OS Independent
Content Management Systems
11. Drupal Sitecore CMS, Kentico Used by the White House, AOL, Yahoo, MTV, Popular Science, the World Wildlife Fund, and many other well-known Web sites, Drupal is one of the most popular content management systems available. More than 7,000 modules let you extend its capabilities and nearly 900 themes make it easy to create a site that reflects your organization’s unique character. Operating System: OS Independent
12. Joomla Replaces: Sitecore CMS, Kentico Joomla calls itself "the most popular Web site software available." Organizations like Harvard University, Citibank, IHOP and the Guggenheim Museum use it to organize their online content. Operating System: OS Independent
13. XOOPS Replaces: Sitecore CMS, Kentico XOOPS considers itself both a dynamic content management system and a Web app development tool. It uses a modular design, so you can use it for something as simple as a personal blog or as complicated as a multi-function enterprise portal. Operating System: OS Independent
14. Alfresco Replaces: SharePoint, Documentum, Open Text In addition to managing your Web content, this enterprise-class content management system offers document management, records management and collaboration features. The company claims it can reduce company costs up to 96 percent versus SharePoint, Documentum and Open Text. Operating System: Windows, Linux