CSSEdit full review

Building web pages without CSS is like McDonald’s serving burgers without buns. Cascading Style Sheets are now the essential foundation of any standards-compliant website. The mantra is CSS for layout, XHTML for content structure. Still, many web-authoring tools start with HTML. CSSEdit flips this around, putting style before content. It works.

It feels like CSSEdit has been around for a while, even though the version number here is only 2.5. Old-school users will recognise the handy coding tools from older iterations. The application opens two windows at launch – a code editing view and a browser based preview window. The code editor divides into three panes. On the left you have a hierarchical tree depicting the currently open CSS file. It’s easy to drill down through selectors, pick one, then use the properties menus on the far right to quickly edit any class or style. If you’re more hands on, the colour coded main editing view includes property suggestions and auto completion.

The really cool stuff is in the browser window though. Navigate to an existing web page and open its style sheet directly in the CSS editor, make changes, preview them and apply them. There’s no need to go through the cycle of downloading with one application, editing in another and previewing in a separate browser. Though the recently reviewed Coda does this for a wider range of file types, it can’t compete with CSSEdit’s style sheet creation and tweaking features.

Then there’s X-Ray – a feature that borrows an idea from the Firefox Web Developer plug-in and executes it more elegantly. With X-Ray enabled, you can see the class and style names of objects in live web pages without having to dig through the underlying HTML.

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