50 Essential Online Tools For Every Computer Science Student


Computer science students need to acquire skills in multiple areas — arguably more so than many other study disciplines. So not surprisingly, they need a large toolbox, for any of several activities encountered in the typical college program. To that end, here is a reference list of 50 essential tools (software and resources) for computer science students.


  • We’ve left out the typical Web browsers, email clients, most IM/ chat clients, search engines, video sharing sites, etc., and given a sample of tool categories that have numerous options.
  • Some tools listed are free, others follow a freemium model (free with paid upgrade options).


“Essential tools for Computer Science Students”

Communication and Collaboration

  • Google Hangouts: Free group conversations and live voice and video, from a browser or mobile app.
  • Strike: Create Web-based task lists and share with classmates, colleagues and other collaborators.

Data Parsing, Data Conversion, File Retrieval, Format Checking

  • JSONLint: Validate JSON content and convert to prettyprint mode.
  • Mr. Data Converter: Convert between JSON, XML, HTML, CSV and other data formats.
  • net2ftp: Use this Web-based FTP client to download assignments or upload your course work when using public campus computers.

IDEs, Code Snippet Savers, Coding Sandboxes

There are a lot of code sandboxes out there, most that handle multiple programming or scripting languages. Here’s a sampling of a few.

  • Chop: Save code snippets with notes and share with classmates, project partners or teaching assistants.
  • Gist: Gist, a collaborative code and data snippet repository from Github that lets you save secret or public snippets that people can fork as well as leave comments or ask questions.
  • Ideone.com: Run and debug syntax-highlighted code in the browser for over 40 programming and scripting languages.


“Website Development”

Web Site Development and Testing

  • Bounce: Enter a URL to get a Web page snapshot (or upload an image), add annotations, and share with colleagues via Facebook or Twitter to solicit feedback.
  • Browsershots: Test browser compatibility across OSes by requesting bulk screenshots for an URL running on up to 180 browsers.
  • CodePen: A Web browser-based sandbox for front-end Web development, with markup options for Haml, Markdown, etc., stylesheet options for Sass, LESS or Stylus, and scripting options for JavaScript, CoffeeScript or LiveScript.
  • Dabblet: A sandbox with configuring interface for testing HTML+CSS code snippets — with save-to-Github Gist (above).
  • IE NetRenderer: For when you absolutely need to check how Internet Explorer renders a page in versions 5.5 and 6 through 11.
  • JS Bin: Do your JavaScript development and debugging; with a long list of framework and JS library choices, export to Github Gist, and other features, including console panel.
  • JSFiddle: A front-end Web page development sandbox with real-time collaboration including screen sharing, text and audio chat, and more.
  • Web Design Tools: Not a tool per se, but a big list of over 80 Web design tools for browser, desktop and mobile use.