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6 CSS tools to help you build a better website

Nathan Segal | March 22, 2013
Version 3 of Cascading Style Sheets give website designers more control over page layout and page elements. If you plan to build (or rebuild) your small business website using CSS, these six applications are worth a look.

TopStyle 5 is available as a single-user download for $79.95. Existing Topstyle 4 users can upgrade for $29.95.

Rapid CSS Editor

The Rapid CSS Editor lets you write website code manually or use a wizard. When it comes to creating CSS or HTML layouts, using the wizard is a snap, and it includes tutorials for the CSS beginner. Choose a font, font size and link color, then click "OK" and you'll get the CSS code shown at the right.

The New Form Template option, meanwhile, lets you choose from several pre-defined layouts or create and save your own. As you create a new template, as seen below, it's easy to preview the results.

Rapid CSS Editor is available for $39.95 for general use and $29.95 for personal use.

Firebug for Firefox

The open source Firebug for Firefox add-on editor lets you inspect the code on a Web page without making any changes to that code. You can experiment with turning items off or adding code, for example, then copy your settings for use with other projects. Among other things, Firebug offers a great way to learn HTML code and use non-destructive editing to change the style and layout of a page.

Here's a screen shot example of Firebug in action:

Let's say you've built a layout, but you're not satisfied with how it looks in the browser. To see what's going on, click on the "Inspect" button, then hover your mouse over different elements on your page. When you do this, that section will open in Firebug and you'll see what's going on with your code.

Additional Firebug features include the capability to use a JavaScript debugger and a robust set of extensions that add more power to the program.

CSS Menu 3.3

One task that can eat up a lot of time when building a new site is menu creation. To address this, CSS Menu 3.3 lets you create both horizontal and vertical navigations.

As you'll see when you look at the default interface for CSS3 Menu 3.3, everything you need is on this one screen. This makes the program simple to use.

At the top left are the controls for opening, saving, publishing adding and subtracting menu items. Directly below that is the menu where you can choose to create either a horizontal or vertical menu, both complete with flyouts and multiple levels. Below the menu section, you'll find the item properties that let you to set the text, link, target and alt text, as well as add an icon to your menu items if you wish.

At the top right, meanwhile, are the templates and icons section. Templates give you horizontal and vertical options for building menus, while the icons tab gives you various icons to display alongside menu items.

 

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