Review: CSSEdit 2

CSSEdit logoWe don’t do many software reviews here at FreshBooks, but every once in a while there is an application deserving of note, and CSSEdit is most certainly one of those apps.

If you hadn’t guessed, we really, really like our accessibility and standards here at FreshBooks. We’re always working hands-on designing our application, our Web site and our blog. This means a lot of our work flow involves tweaking and adjusting the little things in our CSS.

There are several options in both the PC and Mac worlds that allow you to visualize your work before you take that latest layout live. Many show great promise but are stuck in the dreaded version one, or even beta. Some are just too complex, making the simple jobs complicated, all the while hoarding valuable system resources while you switch between Photoshop, Illustrator and whatever else you run during your standard work flow.

CSSEdit screenshot

Enter CSSEdit, which has everything one could want in an application. Simplistic design, easy learning curve, visual styling, lightweight footprint and a host of features to increase your productivity and allow you to focus on getting your work done. Designing is a visual world, and CSSEdit allows you to code, reference and see your designs in real time, easily and powerfully.


Preview: Gone are the days of make changes, upload, refresh, repeat. CSSEdit’s built in preview and X-ray features make finding errors or locating erroneous code as simple as using your eyes. X-ray determines where the element is on your page, so you can discovering how elements are interacting.

Selector Builder: If you work in Web standards you can imagine creating more advanced selectors can become quite the learning experience. Selector Builder is a feature that removes the guessing game and lets you work in plain English.

Powerful source editing: Repetition be gone! CSSEdit automatically adds brackets, (semi-)colons and appropriate spacing for you. If you encounter a style sheet from someone who didn’t have that luxury, you can always do a re-indent to immediately apply your spacing settings. Tada!

Milestones: We all have faults and can obviously make mistakes — and web browsers, like people, are no exception. If you happen to break something while trying to adjust for one of these “browsers” you can use CSSEdit’s milestones to go back to a previous time and figure it out. It lets you fix bugs without fear of losing your valuable work.


I’ve been using CSSEdit in conjunction with TextMate leading up to this review. With the switch I’ve managed to remove some of the much larger and more expensive Web design behemoths from my repertoire. The big application companies would do well to look at the way apps like CSSEdit can slip so smartly into a designer’s work flow, removing overhead and streamlining production.

With a price point of $29.95 USD, creating Web sites has never been so rich, or affordable.

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  • Schwabe

    Looks great, but the big question I have is CSSEdit 2 a viable alternative to Dreamweaver?

  • Alistair Morton

    Dreamweaver CS3 resides on my hard drive and I haven’t opened it in 5 months.

    I work with a combination of TextMate, ($60) CSSEdit ($30) as a combo for my main web work flow, I personally find them to be much more productive than Dreamweaver ($399). Both these softwares have 30 day free trials as well, so you can try it for yourself.

    Of course this will be different for all designers & developers, and any massive change in your workflow is always realized through a learning curve. For me, it’s tops.

  • Cody F

    That’s the same combo I use. The things I like best about CSSEdit are:

    – You can override and edit CSS for live sites
    – Live preview is sweet
    – It formats the code like I like it with no hassle
    – Works with all my other software (like Transmit)

  • Aaron Adams

    My dev combo is Coda ($79) + Firebug (free), but I can definitely see a major similarity between my solution and TextMate/CSSEdit.

    That said, my solution doesn’t give me the CSS revisions, and while I do get live preview, once I’m happy with it I need to go back and edit the CSS for real.

    Considering I already own CSSEdit (thank you MacHeist, I may try switching to it for just the CSS. TextMate looks good too, but I think I’ll be sticking with Coda there for now :)

  • F Cody

    Can you post a comparable Windows based alternative?

  • Alistair

    I don’t use windows, but I did actually research this while writing the post. many people recommended Style Master. Let me know if you like it!

  • Edwin

    Thanks for given by the valuable options. CSSEdit 2 has a perfect combination of form and utility.