Anyone who wrestles with building web pages probably has a love hate relationship with CSS. Cascading style sheets help a web site developer to structure a site’s design and typography.
CSS isn’t easy to learn, but the great Mac app CSSEdit makes the arcane world of CSS much easier to tolerate. Unfortunately, CSSEdit has forgotten how to improve. Fortunately for CSSEdit, competing CSS editors have forgotten how to improve, too.
What’s So Wrong With Improving Status Quo?
There are plenty of tools for Mac users who build or develop or manage web sites. A few dozen editors. Plenty of graphic apps. But only a handful of dedicated (or, semi-dedicated) applications for CSS.
Among the best of the best is MacRabbit’s CSSEdit, long one of our favorites.
Long? CSSEdit has been around a few years and on top of the CSS stack. Too many of those years without even nominal improvements or fixes for glaring problems.
Why? When you’re #1 why bother to improve? After all, you can’t go up in the ranking, right? Especially when #2 through #10 are not doing anything to improve their standing relative to #1.
What CSSEdit Is
CSSEdit is an editor for the creation of cascading style sheets which are used in most of the world’s web pages to separate structure (XHTML, HTML, HTML5) from design and typography.
Even Apple’s lowly TextEdit or any one of a dozen free text editors can be used to create CSS for a web page or web site, but CSSEdit makes them pale in comparison. There’s a live preview so you instantly see additions and changes to your CSS code.
An X-Ray inspector lets you look at a web page with a CSS file and see the underlying code. In fact, CSSEdit is so good that you can edit source code of a live web site and view the changes on your Mac (without affecting the live site).
One click can check your CSS code for proper validation. The CSS selector builder is the best, Mac or Windows. Show me a niche Mac editor that’s won more awards.
So, what’s not to like, Ron? What bugs me is the laurel resting. Not much has happened with CSSEdit for years. To be fair, not much has happened with the CSS features of competitors, either.
CSSEdit needs some competition.
What CSSEdit Needs
A few years ago Mac360 made the recommendation that what CSSEdit needed was a simple, built-in text editor. Many web sites today don’t require much XHTML or HTML, relying instead on CSS for layout, as well as design and typography.
CSSEdit with a text editor built-in would be a killer app. Instead, MacRabbit decided to go for the allure of having another complementary product, and built a standalone text editor called Espresso. It’s decent as editors go, but the whole editor field is crowded. Very crowded. And Espresso doesn’t stand out or bring anything new and different to the field—while CSSEdit did.
Meanwhile, CSSEdit doesn’t appear to have received any internal love from MacRabbit.
There’s still no built in text editor. CSSEdit still can’t read inline CSS from a web page (even Panic’s popular Coda, the next best editor with CSS built in, can do that).
CSSEdit has this annoying habit of requiring multiple clicks simply to view the CSS of a web page. Click the web page to find the CSS on the page. Click the X-Ray Inspector. Click the dialog box to download the site’s CSS file. Click the X-Ray Inspector again (because it disappears). Then click the CSS selector in the X-Ray Inspector to view the CSS. Worse, CSSEdit sometimes ignores CSS which is actually present in the page.
Simply put, I have a laundry list of needed improvements and fixes for CSSEdit. Even after years of sitting atop the Mac’s pile of CSS apps (which still are not as complete) I love this app. I use it nearly everyday. There isn’t a Mac CSS editor that’s better and that’s the problem. What CSSEdit truly needs is competition.