Style Master used to be the most powerful, feature-rich and standards-abiding CSS editor available. Then came CSSEdit and it more or less blew Style Master away. CSSEdit had a refreshingly simple approach, and a slew of features that made Style Master look like old cake.
Earlier this year, WestCiv released Style Master 5 and it looks like CSSEdit is biting the dust this time around.
If I were to sum up what Style Master 5 is about, I’d say it’s about raw power made easy. Style Master 5 is a come back of a tool that forces you to create standard, stable and working CSS. It used to be rather complicated and not very user-friendly, and it still isn’t as elegantly looking as CSSEdit, but when you start its engine, you hear a rumbling sound—compare Style Master 5 to a Porsche and CSSEdit to a BMW 3 Series and you’ll understand what I think of the two most prominent CSS editors currently available.
The bad news is that Style Master 5 is a bit slow on a Power Mac G5 that is over 5 years old. Considering this machine isn’t really a mainstream model anymore, Style Master 5 will run just fine on anything between 3 years old and currently available. New features that immediately drew my attention are the MRI feature, the direct editing of a CSS file sitting on a FTP server, and the attention that goes to the DOM (Document Object Model).
Style Master 5 now has all the features that used to make CSSEdit the CSS editor of choice, but it adds punch in specific areas. For example, auto-completion won’t allow your mistakes and typos to go unnoticed. CSS statements with errors in them get a yellow danger triangle mark. The Properties editors are still there, but next to the properties that you have already created, you’ll now find a pencil designating that these editors have information inside them.
You can create stylesheets from HTML documents and you can edit CSS directly on the server. The latter is not as elegantly implemented as with CSSEdit, but it does allow you to save a local copy wherever you want on your desktop and not in some obscure directory you’re not informed about.
Selectors can be suggested and Style Master 5 will even present you with a list of suggestions, starting with the most general and going down into ever deeper and more specific ones.
XRAY and MRI are two features that turn Style Master 5 into Xyle Scope and CSSEdit all wrapped into one. XRAY will show you the positions and dimensions of elements, while MRI will show you all the statements which select an element. The two features work in the Design pane and are actually much better as showing you problems than Xyle Scope—and Xyle Scope does a terrific job at that.
Style Master 5 will even show you computed styles, something none of the other HTML and CSS editors can do.
Add to all the above the ability to create CSS for smart phones and a design panel to match, and a slew of other features that make working together with HTML editors a snap, and you got yourself a CSS editor that allows you to be absolutely sure your CSS will work in any browser.
Style Master 5 still has some minor bugs and inconsistencies, though. For example, when I opened a CSS stylesheet directly from a FTP server, the design pane couldn’t show me the background image that I placed over the black background colour. Consequently, I couldn’t make out anything of the design as it all went black. That should be fixed somehow.
But to be honest, these are minor details and nothing an update can’t fix. Style Master 5 is impressively powerful, and it will support your creative web design endeavours the best.