What is a CSS Editor?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2019
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CSS is an acronym for Cascading Style Sheets, a language used as a formatting tool for HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and other markup languages that has been endorsed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). A CSS document serves as a master plan for the styles and layout used on a webpage or website. Site-wide style decisions are iterated once and applied many times, saving work for the site designer and time in rendering the site. A CSS editor is a tool for creating or editing a CSS document, and it can make the workflow better for creating CSS stylesheets.

A CSS editor may be a web app, a standalone product. Alternatively, it may be a component of a full web design program, included along with an HTML editor, an XHTML (eXtended HTML) editor, and a JavaScript® editor, or possibly even more languages. XML (EXtensible Markup Language), ASP (Active Server Page), PHP (PHP Hypertext Preprocessor), C and C++, Python, PERL (Practical Extraction Report Language), and SQL (Structured Query Language) are often included. A CSS editor may be cross-platform or for one brand of operating system only, but they are easy to find for Mac®, Windows®, and Unix® systems.


CSS editors can be fairly bare bones — some developers just use a text-editing program — or include syntax highlighting to help create and check code, a CSS wizard, and validation. Being able to organize sections of code in folders can make maintenance easier, and previews in one or more browsers can assist in achieving a universally workable design. This may or may not be facilitated with a split window that allows viewing of two browsers at once.

On occasion, a lite version can be found as a free download, acting as a demo for a pro version. There are also CSS editors that are better adapted for newcomers and others that are more apt for professionals. Useful templates and/or example stylesheets from W3C can be very helpful. In 2010, CSS was in version 2 and version 3 is being developed, so web designers planning to work in version 3 need to check to make sure that the CSS editor they plan to use supports that version.


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