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CSSEdit and Espresso Editors by MacRabbit

May 16, 2009 by debbie T | CSSMac SoftwareWeb DesignWeb Development

I have used quite a few Mac code editors but to be honest, I had never been 100% satisfied with any code editor on the Mac (sigh) as I was with Dreamweaver, Homesite, and/or HTML-Kit on Windows. It’s not that I am not happy with Mac editors, I just never found the absolute perfect replacement.

I started using skedit years ago, and I found it was sufficient for larger coding tasks. For quick coding tweaks, I found nothing beat Text Wrangler.

But I was starting a new re-design project using Expression Engine, so I wanted to try out a few different options.


I dug out my copy of CSSEdit that was barely launched once, and I figured now that I had some true CSS coding tasks to do, it was time to shake of the dust and use it. Now I just LOVE it! It’s awesome.

Sometimes I like to hand code CSS, and other times, I like the editor to insert code for me. CSSEdit will do both. It has code hints & completion and syntax highlighting, all of which I love and NEED! It’s easy to fill in the appropriate fields, and it will insert the CSS code for you. I found it to be the most Dreamweaver-like app I have ever used when it came to CSS coding.

Disappointingly, it does not work with (x)html coding, so it’s not a “one stop shop” editor. It will not open an .html or .php document using the File>Open menu. It will open it if you drag the file from Finder to the CSSEdit icon on the Dock. But it’s really not meant for html code, but it does CSS editing and it does it well!


I purchased the latest MacHeist 3 bundle, which included a copy of the Espresso code editor. I had been looking forward to using Espresso since it was created by MacRabbit, the same developers as CSSEdit. I had previously launched it once or twice, and wasn’t thrilled with it at first glance, but I figured this would be a great time to really put it through it’s paces. And I am glad I did.

I like the interface and how projects are displayed in the workspace. Although I wish there was some sort of Project Manager window, maybe coming soon to a future release, or perhaps I will just get used to opening the project file just like I would any other file.

I love that it has a different approach to tabs. Tabs are not located at the top horizontal menu, but on the side bar, at the top of the file list. I think it’s more intuitive that way.

(x)HTML code completion and hints both work very well.

The FTP cloud publishing feature is a bit unintuitive, but I am hoping that either I have to work with it more, or it will become better with future updates. For now, I still use Transmit for my (s)FTP transfers. There is a quick publish feature, and that might be a good option, but I wish there was a right-click ‘upload’ option for any given file from the side bar.

I really disliked the default syntax highlighting color theme, and all the other available View themes were either light text on dark backgrounds (hate dark backgrounds), or white backgrounds with very light text. huh? What’s up with that? So, I took one of the color syntex highlighting themes, and made adjustments to it for my own needs. It was very easy to tweak the CSS theme in CSSEdit, as it was just a plain .css file!

I haven’t had the opportunity to work with any Espresso Sugars, but I did download a copy of the Expression Engine sugar, so we’ll see how that goes when I get deeper into EE code for my new project. I also haven’t worked with snippets, but I do love how they work in Skedit, so hopefully they will be useful in Espresso.

The browser “preview” works well with regular static html and CSS but I can’t see how it could possibly work with dynamic code, unless you have a server set up on your computer. I don’t have time to mess with that, so all my browser views will have to be online, where it can work with the database directly.

CSS editing in Espresso is disappointing not too bad, but not as good as CSSEdit. CSS code hints work for the CSS property name, but there are no hints for the value. – I was behind on a few updates, eek. Updated to version 1.05 and it does indeed include code completion for CSS values. It completes the closing bracket and trailing semi-colon for you.

Since MacRabbit are the same developers for CSSEdit, I thought that there might be integration or something, but so far, CSS editing is not wonderful. the best, so I will stick with CSSEdit for CSS editing.

It might sound like I don’t like Espresso, but I really do. At this stage, it’s still brand new for me; I know I haven’t tapped into all its power yet, and I think the same is true for MacRabbit as well. They will be adding more features and hopefully there will be a great future ahead.

But so far, I am impressed, and I will continue to use it. Would I pay the full price of $80? No, I don’t think so, but I am glad I got it as part of the MacHeist Bundle. I think if there was better CSS Support like in CSSEdit, or even some sort of integration between the two (similar to how all Adobe apps work well both together and separately) I would consider paying the $80.

So, that’s my quick (and probably premature) review of CSSEdit and Espresso.

Together with Transmit FTP, it’s a good work process!

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