The arrival of Dreamweaver and other software made it easy for the people to design and create CSS+HTML that to almost instantly. Thus, it eliminated the use of manual coding, though to some extent. However, there are certain occasions where you would want to use visual CSS editors instead of complex Dreamweaver or other nifty tools. The best and easiest method to use would be inbuilt visual CSS editors available in both Firefox and Google Chrome. For better understanding, you can right click on the Firefox browser and click on Inspect Element option. The bottom right pane displays CSS code based on the selected element. You can play with that code to check out the effects simultaneously. Experienced users will find it extremely convenient to edit elements from there, while beginners will struggle to implement them since it sometimes uses inherited property. Let’s not delve deeper into the technical aspect of it.
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Why Visual CSS Editor?
CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet. The CSS editors are tools to edit/add CSS properties in the CSS stylesheet. However, most of them do not reflect the changes immediately. You would either need to save those changes and move to some other Window or refresh it to see the changes into effect. Contradictory to this, visual CSS editors will let you see the changes either simultaneously or immediately after moving to next Window. This gives a better idea of the properties you have applied without going forth and back to another application/window. Even, you can use application like Notepad++ to infinite undo and redo, which otherwise is not possible with notepad. There are many more uses of Notepad++, but we’re not here to discuss them, are we?
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Are There Any Advanced Free CSS Editors?
Why would you pay when there are already some good free alternatives available in the market? Let’s explore some of the best free visual CSS editors.
XEO CSS Editor
A simple yet efficient tool for those who would like to start designing a website from a given pre-defined set. There are some decent gradient presets available. XEO CSS also has an in-browser HTML editor in case if you want to go one yard ahead. It comes with a plethora of options like typography, dimension, layout, transform, border and transition effects. There is also a super simple way to select color from the color picker. You can upload your own image as a background select its position and other dimensions. All changes will be reflected instantly. There is also a CSS code tab available if you would like to play with css manually.
It provides live preview, option to generate class & ID selectors, css3 properties, css3 gradient effects and more. The project is under a beta mode, but provides some exceptional features. It is a web-based styling tool, so you can directly go to their website and start designing web pages.
WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and Magento users can install bluePen editor directly on their server and make necessary changes live on the webpage without hampering the user experience. Advanced users can set up WordPress on local server and make necessary changes on local server before putting it online. As any other visual CSS editor does, it will give you an instant preview of the implemented code. This allows faster and efficient tuning in the code. You can also save all those changes with a push of a button which will automatically update all the necessary changes to your design, To avoid any disaster, there is also a restore option available. It will restore your files to previous start truncating all the changes you have made after the restore point.
BluePen visual CSS editor is truly an amazing CSS editor that you would love to have on your server, It offers a true WYSIWYG editor with heaps of inbuilt option. It leaves only a small footprint on your server. Yes, you would be required to upload a file on your server. There are many advanced keyboard shortcuts available to quickly perform your operations. Apart from that color picker, advanced editor toolbar, file manager, backup panel and many other options are available. BluePen is a boon for advanced users who would like to make changes online without interfering a live server. A one-click save button will make all the necessary changes.
CSS Style Editor
CSS Style Editor is an ideal choice for the beginners or learners. With limited set of options, you can tinker with some basic CSS properties online. The resultant would not be as impressive as you would find in the previous two tools. Hence, we recommend this tool for basic editing only. Of course, you can ignore this tool altogether.
You can apply a background color (solid colors), border, width, height, padding, margin, font, float and other property (you got the idea, right?). Overall, it offers almost no-option to the users and could be avoided. There are set of other tools available on their website like online generators, css validator, CSS sprite generator etc, which you may find somewhat useful.
Glance at Paid Tools
They say, paid tools are paid for some reason. Instead of including plenty of already available paid solution, we would stick to two of the best paid visual CSS editors only.
Stylizer is an absolutely fantastic and one of the most featured-rich visual or real-time CSS editor. They say, love at first sight exists, and Stylizer is a tool which will make you feel special. Stylizer has some of the most advanced features that a pro user in you would crave for. It is a tool designed for advanced or pro users. Drag-drop feature, multi browser check, bullseye and many other functions set it apart from the rest of the tools. The other beauty of the tool is that it restricts you from associating any wrong value that is not compatible.
It provides preview in 9 integrated browsers, so you can know whether your code works in decrepit IE6 and IE7 browsers or not. According to the result, you can adjust your CSS styling to make your design cross-browser compatible. Stylizer automatically extracts CSS from the style sheet of the HTML page. You can work upon them and make the necessary changes, which can also be uploaded to the server if you wish to. It is available for both Mac and Windows systems at $79.99.
Probably, this should be the first choice while considering paid visual CSS editors. TopStyle 5 goes one notch ahead by offering support for CSS 3 and HTML5 technology. It is one of the most powerful WYSIWYG editor for Windows users– bad luck Mac users. Not only does it offer a way better interface, but also offers some great insights to the newbie. For the lovers of cross-platform compatibility, TopStyle 5 offers suggestions for IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari.
The other impressive feature like automatic expansion from a first letter is a big time saver for many. For example, write mt and it will convert it into a margin – top. Isn’t it titillating? It comes with hundreds of such pre-defined auto-replacement letters. The inbuilt W3c validator, HTML5 validator and other engine ensures the maximum clean code for your project. Prefixr will dynamically update the vendor prefixed property to get cross-browser compatibility on auto-pilot. There are tons of other features available in TopStyle 5. This space will not be enough to include all the mesmerizing features of TopStyle 5. In short, for serious pro CSS coders, this is a best visual CSS editor cum HTML5 editor. You will love to give it a spin. IT is available at $79.95 and with HTML and CSE validator bundle at $99.
Unfortunately, such powerful tool is not available on the Mac platform. Mac users can give a spin to Stylizer instead. Do let us know if you would like us to suggest your favorite visual CSS editor.