CSS stands for ‘cascading style sheet’ and is a formatting language used to define the layout of webpages and blogs. While HTML is sufficient for very basic formatting, such as the implementation of colored text and tables; CSS allows for far more creative layouts and saves a lot of time in the coding process.
But as with any formatting language, CSS is only as effective as the person using it. If your code is awkward and ugly, or if you simply have no eye for design, then your website is still going to be slow and ugly.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to employ the best tools to help give you an edge. These CSS tools can save you a lot of time, while at the same time ensuring that your code runs smoothly and quickly. Read on for some excellent apps that will give you a boost.
While you don’t really need an IDE for CSS, Notepad++ will make it much easier to write and edit your CSS code. This notepad replacement is used by coders from all walks of life thanks to its color coded formatting, its ability to open multiple tabs at once, its handy line numbers and its powerful search and replace functions.
That said, coding in Notepad++ without seeing a preview of your work can be a little fiddly as you’ll keep having to refresh your browser… Stylizer is specifically designed as a CSS editor on the other hand. It runs on Windows or Mac and has 8 built-in browsers allowing you to ensure it looks good across all of them and it has a nice live preview while you’re working. Stylizer is simple enough to use that it can even be helpful for learning CSS as a beginner.
Blueprint is a CSS framework that is designed to save you time by handling a lot of the fiddly aspects for you. It’s employs an easy-to-use grid and has a number of useful plugins. It’s popular among those who already know what they’re doing.
Procssor is a tool you can use to clean up your CSS and to keep everything nice and consistent. It’s particularly useful if you have multiple people editing the same website, all with different opinions on line indenting and starting new lines. If your CSS is messy to look at, this will tidy it up nicely.
In reality though, it doesn’t matter so much what your CSS looks like; it’s how it performs that really matters. This tool promises to take care of that though, by reducing the size of your CSS code and helping your website to load much faster as a result. All you need to do is paste your code into the box and click ‘compress’ and you can select from four different compression levels before you do!
If you write your CSS well, then you should have a single style sheet that you can edit to trigger changes across your entire site. Sometimes though, that’s not the way it ends up going down. In those scenarios, Replace Genius will allow you to use far more advanced search and replace rules across multiple documents to make your changes en-masse.
CSS Lint does several things in one, not only helping you to fix the appearance of your code but also helping you to avoid mistakes that might slow it down or cause errors. You can choose how many rules you want to apply and even create your own and again, it’s very quick and easy to use.
Or perhaps all this talk of CSS optimization is making your head spin and you’d like to stay clear of it as far as possible? Dreamweaver is a web design tool from Adobe that makes this possible – allowing you to create impressive and intricate web designs without having to get your hands dirty. It includes numerous pre-designed CSS layouts you can use and you can do all your designing in the visual editor. This also contains a nice search and replace function. Just a shame that Adobe Creative Cloud is rather expensive!
Then again, the considerably more popular choice of website builder these days is definitely WordPress. If you built your site in WordPress using a theme you didn’t build yourself, then you can use this tool – Simple Custom CSS – to easily add CSS that will overwrite the theme you have active.
Wireframing software lets you create and iterate website mockups on the fly, which is incredibly helpful when you begin planning and creating your CSS code. If you’re the sort of person who prefers not to ‘design in the browser’, then iPlotz is a great choice that has a free limited option and an easy drag-and-drop interface.