A good mechanic or good carpenter use good tools. Good web designers use tools that make web pages according to standards, such as XHTML and CSS (cascading style sheets).
The best CSS editor we know of is Style Master; from the Bondi Beach folks of the land down under.
I work in media which involves design, publication, presentation. Nearly every web page we build these days needs to adhere to a single standard so the page will look decent on all web browsers, Mac and Windows. That’s easier said than done.
To get that common look, web site developers are flocking to the standards of XHTML (there’s a number of them) and CSS, the companion style sheets which make pages look good.
I’ve used every editor you can find for HTML/XHTML, and still use multiple applications (Tera swears by BBEdit, though I use it only for touch ups, we both use Dreamweaver for ables, and so on).
For cascading styles sheets on the Mac, there are a number of good solutions, but for our money there’s really only one application that’s worthy. Style Master (available for both Mac and Windows). John Allsopp and the folks at WestCiv seem to have been doing CSS since before you could spell it.
To be able to create a Mac and Windows application is one thing, to do CSS right requires a solid knowledge of the CSS standards, and an ability to package the features so even novice web page developers can get CSS into their web pages.
StyleMaster is more than just an editor for style sheets. For Windows users, Wordpad would do the job but you’d have to know CSS inside and out to make it efficient.
For Mac users there’s easily a dozen free “editor” utilities that’ll work. For those of us who know we need CSS but don’t breath it all day long, there’s CSS editors.
In that bucket full of CSS editors, StyleMaster stands out. Why? Power that’s easy to use.
If all you know is that CSS can change the size and color of backgrounds and fonts then you’ll get the hang of Style Master over night.
However, when you’re ready to get serious about the true blend of XHTML and CSS to create superb web page design, then you’ll want a CSS editor that will let you learn quickly. That’s another area where Style Master and the West Civ tutorials come in handy.
I’m not a CSS newbie and I find Style Master can always get me just the code I need without a lot of work on my part, and little of the back and forth to reference material.
First, the StyleMaster editor. What’s it do?
The built-in Wizards have over 30 standards based Templates. These walk you through CSS menu creation, actual page layouts using CSS, and more. There’s even a built-in tutorial.
If you’re an accomplished web page designer, StyleMaster makes it easy to upgrade your site and point you to fixes for the gazillion browser inconsistencies. Previewing changes is now interactive and live so you can see changes and edits instantly.
At the base level, StyleMaster lets you create a valid cascading style sheet in minutes. Tired of Tables? Even Table-free layouts are quickly put together using StyleMaster.
WestCiv is an Australian company not far from Bondi Beach (remember the color of the original iMac’s “Bondi?”) in the land down under, Australia. John Allsopp heads West Cib and loves CSS. So much so that WestCiv has created a bunch of CSS tutorials that work hand in hand with Style Master.
A number of years ago I ventured into CSS on earlier web sites. What a pain. I went through every tool I could find to try to figure out the basics of CSS design. Finally, I landed on StyleMaster and haven’t looked back.
There’s a built-in browser warning system (for browsers that don’t like the CSS code you’ve selected; can you say, Microsoft?). Create an HTML snippet with the CSS to create perfect breadcrumb trails and navigation bars.
If you’re new to CSS then phrases such as selectors, statements, rules sets, declarations, link or embed, can be intimidating, right? Forget them. Start with a Style Master Wizard and walk your way to improved competence.
StyleMaster starts with a left colum for the CSS items you want, a right column which lets you point and click the various attributes you need.
The center top column displays the CSS (you don’t have to do anything) you’ve created via point and click.
The bottom part of the center column is reserved for the live preview, much improved orver earlier versions.
Since not all browsers are created equal, StyleMaster comes with built-in validation to make sure that what you create works on the browser you want.
The newest version is 4.5 and offers enhancements in Wizards and Previews, the two areas I thought were weakest in previous versions. $60 will get you what you’ve always wanted. CSS that works. Of course, like any good Mac developer, Style Master comes with a 30-day demo and a free download.
The only shortcoming I can find has to do with tutorials; more need to be included, because there are many more people building web sites and pages these days who don’t have an understanding of CSS and how it works with XHTML.
CSS editors need more samples, too. I bought the CSS Anthology from Amazon and the book came with dozens of actual sample HTML and CSS files in a .zip download.
StyleMaster needs those examples because there are many newbies to CSS who need to “SEE” how it works and what it does for a page. It does include a free $25 CSS tutorial.
Still, there’s not much to complain about, so I won’t. I tend to gush when I find something really good. Like pantyhose that’s the right color, fits, and doesn’t run before I get out of the car.
Click Here for the StyleMaster page and the download link.
What’s your favorite set of HTML/XHTML and CSS tools? BBEdit? Share your experience and comments with other Mac readers and click the Comments link below.