When I’m coding a new design for a client I take into consideration the tools that I will use to allow for a streamlined and unified experience that also is easy to manage. When it comes to HTML sites I definitely have issues trying to keep track of styles, scripts, and various navigation links all over the place because I don’t have the ability to use any real logic while on a local machine. I either have to work from a server in the cloud or try to play with PHP in order to get the right set of pieces working each time. And with most projects that takes time that I don’t want to waste. Usually I develop Drupal, Wordpress, or other other CMS based systems so you might be asking me why I even bother with HTML. I use it to wireframe new client sites before I ever start building their designs into a CMS in order to get it right.
A New App
A few days ago I started playing with a new app on my Mac that promised to take the headache out of building HTML websites. While my demo version is still cranking away i am already starting to see the benefits that this could make to my own workflow. Hammer allows for some really simple logic to help alleviate includes, script or style inclusion, and it even offers a way to view those changes in real-time without having to refresh the browser. If you have ever developed a website on a local device you run into problems once your page counts reach more than one and trying to keep every page in sync while you add and subtract misc pieces of code. It even comes with code compiling for CoffeeScript and Sass if you prefer to write code in a more elegant and streamlined way.
There are other applications that allow this same basic type functionality, such as, Compass by Handlino which I have used extensively in the past to write CSS with Sass. However, there were holes in that because I still had to manage the HTML myself. Hammer provides a way to make projects, which provide a way to keep different projects separated. I’ve started using it in conjunction with a app called Anvil (by the same company) that formats a long complicated folder on your local machine into a nice dev URL for quick reference. Anvil is a free app that you can download directly and start using right away.
After using it for a few days the only drawback I could find is that Hammer is priced at $23. However, when it comes to saving time across the life of a project that is good for both my own development purposes and it perks the ears of all my clients. If you’re interested in trying out Hammer they do have a 14-day trial version for download directly from their website, which should wet your appetite.
Both apps (Hammer and Anvil) run on Mac OSX 10.7+ so make sure your operating system allows for them.