Mac utilities are coming of age on Mac OS X. CSS is finally tamed with CSSEdit’s new version, sporting a new interface, new tools, and a cool way to view and edit CSS files in live web sites.
Yes, Virginia, it’s possible to get excited over a utility editor, especially one that makes life easier.
MacRabbit’s CSSEdit has always had plenty of time-saving features. Version 2.0 carries on the tradition.
Except this version packs a few new surprise punches. For those of us who dabble in web site creation, CSS is no fun, hence the need for utility applications to help reduce the thinking.
CSS editors on the Mac are a prized bunch, and CSSEdit has never disappointed with point and click simplicity for a complex issue. CSS.
For the uninitiated, CSS is text that’s read by your browser and determines page styling, fonts and sizes, and color elements; sometimes even layout elements.
So, CSS is important. CSS is also complex and arcane, and subject to browser rendering quirks. It’s also a difficult to understand syntax.
CSS for the rest of us requires a tool to help produce standards-based CSS to match our desire for standards-based XHTML web pages.
At a base level, CSSEdit is an editor. Type in CSS styles, IDs, or classes, and use point and click to modify relevant elements.
Mac OS X applications have achieved new heights in user interface, and CSSEdit improves on point and click.
The left column displays the style, IDs, classes.
The center column displays the actual CSS code, and the right column is where the fun begins.
All the point and click element changes show up in the right column.
Expandable sections give you a quick view of any formatting in any CSS element.
The icons are simple, easy to understand, and logically placed. The scroll bar takes you through all possible CSS combinations.
The familiar toolbar at the top of CSSEdit displays all you need to know; toggle views in the editor, export a CSS file to an HTML file, and so on.
New in this version are options to quickly validatae your CSS code against web standards. That’s even better than BBEdit’s extra clicks.
Comments can be inserted with a click. CSS elements can even be grouped with a selection and a click.
One of my favorite new features in CSSEdit is the web browser Live Preview.
Attach your CSS code to a web page, and you can override the page’s CSS and manipulate the page using your local CSS, in real time.
That’s more than a waaaaay cool feature.
CSSEdit lets you view a live web page from the internet, extract the site or page’s CSS code, and then edit the same code locally.
Changes to the code show up immediately in the local browser window. That feature alone brings a whole new dimension to editing CSS files.
You can automatically export your CSS code to a file, or extract the CSS code from a file or web page for editing and fine tuning.
No more loading, reloading, clicking between different utilities just to see you work. You don’t even need to save. Just change the code, see the code changed.
CSSEdit has an X-Ray discover mode when viewing a web page with CSS. Click on a section of the web page, and CSSEdit displays the site’s CSS, location, and name.
What used to take minutes to browse through XHTML code to find some CSS is now done in seconds.
Validating your CSS code to standards is a mere click. The Milestones feature lets you save the progress of your CSS style sheet as you go; an excellent way to debug for different browsers.
I’m gushing, right? Yes. Mac utilities and applications are maturing and finding new ways to make our daily jobs easier on more difficult tasks, without increasing the learning curve.
Flaws? Yes, a few nits here and there, though your mileage may vary. To my knowledge, there’s not a text editor for XHTML or a CSS editor that combines both requirements.
CSSEdit needs a simple editor for XHTML that’s tied to the CSS file and to the live preview of your web pages. That would be the cat’s pajamas.
CSSEdit could use some wizards like those in the excellent StyleMaster to get pages set up and ready to go, including navigation bars, without having to crack a book. You still need to know some CSS to get started.
As it is, CSSEdit makes so much of editing easier than before, that it’s a solid jump forward.
X-Ray, Validation, Milestones, Browser Integration, Real Time Preview, Simple Interface, and Fast. Faster than any other major CSS editor we use.
MacRabbit made CSSEdit a worthy upgrade and a very good tool for improving your code and productivity.