Working in a corporate IT infrastructure can be hard when your rights to install new software are limited or require a chain of approvals. I totally understand the need to limit administrator rights on a network full of sensitive information but restrictions like this force designers to create their own work environments so they don’t need to beg IT gatekeepers to install software.

Most designers are accustomed to using any tools necessary to create a concept but when it comes to complex or detailed interactions, I like to get my hands dirty in HTML, Sass and interactive JS. Prototyping is the best way to demonstrate a concept that stakeholders will understand entirely, while also letting them know the concept won’t be difficult or costly to develop. I found myself needing to build a prototype for a design demonstration later that week, so I didn’t have time to lodge tickets with IT to get the right software installed on my corporate laptop.

Here are some tools I use to get setup quickly and build prototypes on restricted networks running Windows.


Web Server for Chrome

Relying on a Chrome extension to act as a web server might seem strange, but Web Server for Chrome gives you a lot of flexibility and lets you get started coding quickly. It works perfectly offline and even allows you to share files over a local network.
Check it out here


Sublime Text

Sublime is one of the most common text editors for developers but installing the portable version is nice and easy.
Check it out here


Scout App

Scout is a fantastic tool to write clean stylesheets in Sass without using the command line. It listens for style changes, thoroughly lints your code and compiles and minifies CSS files on the fly. Scout even refers to itself as ‘Sass for web designers’.
Check it out here



I like Sourcetree but Atlassian haven’t released a portable version of their source control software yet so I found SmartGit, a decent Git client that can be installed from a zip archive. Pushing to code repositories sometimes conflicts with my user rights, so I occasionally use the manual file uploader in Github too.
Check it out here



Droppages helps turn a folder in your Dropbox account into a makeshift hosting solution. Deploy code by dragging and dropping files like an FTP client.
Check it out here


Other free tools

You can avoid the hassle and just code in free front end playgrounds like Codepen or JSFiddle, although these tools are usually designed for single page interactions and might be limited building fully-featured prototypes.