Behind that are web servers, more apps, and the guts of what puts together and delivers a web page. Most web pages are loaded with CSS—cascading style sheets. Mac web page builders have many CSS tools from which to choose. From dinosaur to tortoise to hare.
The Tortoise And Hare And Friends
Recently, I blasted what is arguably the Mac’s best CSS editor, MacRabbit’s CSSEdit, for Resting On Its Laurels.
CSSEdit hasn’t received much love or new features or fixes in awhile.
Still, there’s no faster hare on the circuit, prompting one reader to suggest that new features or improvements were not necessary, as if—when you’re on top—improving the status quo was a business no-no.
For Mac users digging into the finer art of CSS competitive tools abound. Panic’s Coda mixes a competent text editor for coding with a CSS component that does a few things not touched by CSSEdit (reading inline CSS, for example). BareBones ancient BBEdit has a CSS component, too, but more of an afterthought than a consideration.
Adobe’s Dreamweaver CS5 may be the dinosaur of web page building, with every flavor of feature and capability tacked on to the hide—except ease of use.
Which Mac app is the tortoise in my CSS arsenal?
Style Master Masters CSS
At version 5, WestCiv’s Style Master is a mature and capable CSS editor with a long heritage dating back to before Mac OS X. This tortoise has a few tricks the hare hasn’t mastered.
For example, there’s an improved X-Ray capability—view the CSS element on any web page, including some which are overlooked by CSSEdit. Style Master also performs live editing of CSS files, as well as CSS used on PHP, Ruby, or ASP.NET sites.
Style Master has the ability to filter the dizzying array of CSS versions which lets you focus on just the code relevant for your site’s needs. CSS3? No problem. HTML5? No problem.
In fact, the Sandbox works in conjunction with OS X’s Safari-based built-in browser to let you try out more esoteric CSS3 functions like gradients, rounded corners, transforms, shadows and strokes.
Clearly, Style Master’s heritage as a venerable Mac CSS editor has not slowed its ability to adopt and adapt to the future of CSS.
If you’re somewhat newer to CSS, Style Master’s Wizards will get you started on the more complex elements of CSS as layout (including HTML), and CSS-based menus and breadcrumbs—all step by step (again, exceeding sleeping hare CSSEdit).
Style Master is a WYSIWYG editor with a fully interactive preview window—your code is displayed instantly, live, and validates along the way for browsers you choose (another short fall of CSSEdit). In fact, Style Master makes the CSS learning process valuable and easy with some of the best CSS tutorials on the planet.
The X-Ray component of Style Master is useful, though not as elegant as CSSEdit, though it displays the underlying CSS when CSSEdit cannot. Click any part of a web page, and CSS statements are visible—and editable.
Unlike CSSEdit, Style Master comes with dozens of excellent templates (in addition to the Wizards which create templates). Once you’ve gained a measure of CSS understanding and want to move beyond point and click, Style Master obliges with a hand coding toolbox and an on-the-fly syntax checker to make sure what you code is real code.
Style Master covers more CSS territory so is a bit more complex than CSSEdit, though far less so than Dreamweaver. While you’re waiting for the hare to wake up from the deep sleep of a front runner, don’t forget that the tortoise actually won the race.