8 Best Open-Source CSS Editor

Posted in CSS
8 Best Open-Source CSS Editor

Cascading Style Sheets or popularly known to the IT world as CSS is a popular style sheet language. It is used to describe the way web pages or web documents appear. Usually, CSS is used in tandem with HTML and JavaScript.

Web designers leverage a CSS editor to easily and effectively make changes to a .css file. The same can also be used for reading the code in an efficient manner, thus, making it simpler to spot errors and typos.

CSS Editors come in various forms. While some are commercial, paid tools, others are free and/or even open-source. Using an open-source CSS editor can be beneficial in several scenarios.

May it be working in line with developers and engineers for a full-fledged project or simply preparing one’s own website designs.

Before diving into the reasons why one should opt for an open-source CSS editor, let’s first get a brief understanding of why CSS is the convenient option over HTML for presenting, or styling, web pages.

Why CSS and Not HTML for the Appearance?

Although HTML alone can be leveraged to decide how web pages will appear, using CSS makes the complete process much easier and efficient.

A single .css file grants developers the ability to reflect various changes across a website. Doing so using HTML necessitates making individual changes to each HTML file (web page), which, obviously, is not a productive option.

CAUTION! Free is not Open-Source

Sometimes people confuse free software or freeware with open-source. Be notified that both are partially similar but not the same. Open-source software tools allow users to download and modify the source code of the same while using the same completely for free.

Free software tools, although completely free to use, doesn’t allow its source code to be downloaded and modified. There are several CSS editors that are free-to-use but not open-source. Examples include CoffeeCup StyleSheet Maker and SimpleCSS.

Reasons to Choose an Open-Source CSS Editor

There are several great reasons for picking an open-source CSS editor for your cause. Most important ones are:

1. Easy Collaboration with Co-Workers

Using an open-source CSS editor lets you collaborate easily with co-workers as there is no requirement of purchasing licenses for multi-use. Moreover, open-source tools aren’t limited to the number of users or bounded by time restrictions, unlike shareware or trial versions of tools.

2. Customize as Per to Your Requirement

Every project has its own scope and requirements. Therefore, the one-size-fits-all strategy doesn’t seem fitting in this context. Thankfully, open-source CSS editors allow developers and teams to leverage the same to modify it as per their requirements.

3. Active, Community Support

Sometimes some issues require discussion with the experienced. Most open-source tools, CSS editors or not, have an active, expanding community that is always ready to give out a helping hand to those in need. It can prove to be your best bet when dealing with projects having unique requirements.

8 Best Open-Source CSS Editors

1. Atom

Available for:

  • Linux RedHat or Ubuntu
  • macOS 10.9 or later
  • Windows 7 or later

Developer - GitHub
Initial Release - February 2014

Endorsed as “A hackable text editor for the 21st Century,” Atom is one of the best open-source code editors available right now. It comes with all the essential features that a developer expects from a code editor, may it be autocompletion, file system browsing, or support for a range of programming languages.

Probably, the biggest highlight of the Atom is that it makes real-time collaboration much simpler and productive. The cross-platform ability of Atom is a result of the platform it is based upon, which is Electron.

Furthermore, Atom comes with an exhaustive list of packages that equip the text editor with additional features and functionality. The fancy text editor also has support for themes, created and curated by the mushrooming Atom community.

2. Brackets

Available for:

  • Linux Mint or Ubuntu
  • macOS 10.14 or later
  • Windows 7 or later

Developer - Adobe (original), Adobe Systems (present)
Initial Release - November 2014

Another popular CSS editor among the developer brethren is Brackets by Adobe. Developed especially for front-end developers and web designers, Brackets features focused visual tools and preprocessor support. An important advantage of using Brackets is its lightweight built.

Brackets flaunt a live preview feature that allows viewing changes made to the website as you are pushing them. The code editor also provides support for a decent degree of customization with support for extensions.

One fascinating feature of Brackets is inline editors that save you the hassle of shuffling between file tabs by opening an inline window inside the code you deem the most important.  Oh, and, by the way, the code editor is translated in over 35 different languages.

3. Notepad++

Available for - Windows 7 or later
Developer - Don Ho
Initial Release - November 2003

As per the 2019 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, Notepad++ is the second-most popular code editor. Around the globe, Notepad++ is the go-to option for developers, preferring a simplistic, lightweight, and extensible code editor for Windows.

Written in C++, Notepad++ offers an amazing combination of speedy execution and extraordinarily small size. The code editor succeeds in doing so by virtue of leveraging pure Win32 API and STL.

Notepad++ is replete with all the usual code editor features, namely autocompletion, find and replace, and tabbed editing. The code editor provides support for 20+ programming languages, making it one of the most versatile code editors available out in the market.

4. Komodo Edit

Available for:

  • Linux CentOS, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise, or Ubuntu
  • macOS 10.9 or later
  • Windows XP or later

Developer - ActiveState
Initial Release - January 2007

Komodo Edit is a toned-down code editor avatar of the popular Komodo IDE. In addition to CSS, the code editor is preferred for a range of popular programming languages, including JavaScript, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, SQL, and XML.

Since Komodo Edit 4.3, the code editor for dynamic programming languages is built on top of the Open Komodo project. Customization is available via plugins and macros. The former is based on Mozilla Add-ons.

The code editor, unfortunately, lacks a live preview feature. Moreover, it doesn’t offer real-time collaboration. Komodo Edit, however, offers a powerful Go to Anything feature that eases navigating to any portion of the source code.

5. Visual Studio Code

Available for:

  • Linux Debian, Fedora, RedHat, SUSE, or Ubuntu
  • macOS
  • Windows 7 or later

Developer - Microsoft
Initial Release - April 2015

Visual Studio Code is the most popular code editor as per the 2019 Stack Overflow Developer Survey. As such, it comes with all the features that a developer needs in a code editor. This includes autocompletion, code refactoring, and syntax highlighting.

Typically, code editors lack debugging functionality. This is, however, not the case with Visual Studio Code that features a built-in debugging tool. The code editor is highly customizable using extensions, themes, keyboard shortcuts, and preferences.

Moreover, Visual Studio Code’s intelligent code completion feature is nothing like the usual autocomplete feature. It completes the code on the basis of a functional definition, imported modules, and variable types. Another reason for being the most popular option!

6. Bluefish

Available for:

  • Linux ALT Linux, Debian, Fedora, Gentoo Linux, Slackware, or Ubuntu
  • macOS
  • OpenSolaris
  • Windows XP or later

Developer - Bluefish Dev Team
Initial Release - 1997

Bluefish is an easy-to-learn, basic-yet-powerful CSS editor. It is an advanced text editor that comes with a galore of tools for programming and building dynamic websites. It is recommended for devs looking for a no-nonsense tool that is exactly what it looks like.

Other than CSS, the code editor provides support for Ada, C, C++, Go, Java, PHP, Python, XML, and several other languages. Although Bluefish is a standalone application, it can also be used via integration with the open-source desktop environment GNOME.

Besides the typical code editing features such as autocomplete and syntax highlighting, the code editor has the wizards feature. It is a super feature for completing tasks efficiently. A programming-code-aware inline spell checker and a Unicode character browser are also available.

7. Scintilla

Available for:

  • macOS 10.6 or later
  • MorphOS
  • Unix-like with GTK+
  • Windows NT or later

Developer - Neil Hodgson, et al.
Initial Release - May 1999

Unlike other entries on this list, this one is not exactly a code editor. Instead, Scintilla is a free and open-source library that features a text editing component focusing on advanced features for source code editing.

The code editing prowess of Scintilla, however, can easily stand up to a dedicated code editor, and that’s why it’s on the list. As a matter of fact, the Scintilla editor component is used by the immensely popular Notepad++ code editor.

Scintilla features syntax highlighting that is not limited to fixed-width fonts. Autocompletion and code folding features can also be added to it. The code editing component also has a basic regular expression search implementation in addition to error indicators and syntax styling.

8. gedit

Available for:

  • macOS
  • Unix-like operating systems with GNOME DE
  • Windows

Developer - Various
Initial Release - February 1999

Written in C and Python, gedit serves as the default text editor for the open-source GNOME desktop environment. The code editor, however, can also be used on macOS and Microsoft Windows platforms.

Following the philosophy of its mother project, i.e., GNOME, gedit focuses on ease-of-use and simplicity. As such, the CSS editor features a clutter-free, simple graphical user interface. gedit features tools for editing source code as well as structured Text, like markup languages.

For editing several files simultaneously, gedit features GUI tabs. Also, it has the undo and redo feature as well as the search and replaces function. Syntax highlighting can be added to the code editor via GtkSourceView.

How to Choose the Best Open-Source Editor?

To win at your CSS endeavour, it is important to make the right choice for a CSS editor. How will you do that? By simply considering these things while making the pick:

1. The Operating System That you Have

Not every CSS editor is compatible with all operating systems. Hence, it is important to ensure that the code editor you’re about to choose is compatible with the OS you have. Also, ensure that you meet the minimum system requirements.

2. Features that you Need

Every code editor has its own feature list. While some of the features are mutual among certain code editors, some other features might be exclusive to certain code editors.

Ensure the code editor you’re picking to deal with the CSS part of your project must have the features that you want. These features can be:

  • Autocompletion.
  • Color coding.
  • CSS validation.
  • Support for all three types of CSS.
  • The ability to work with absolute, float, and relative positioning.

3. Other Web Technologies/Languages you Need to Work Upon

Most CSS editors provide support, at least, syntax highlighting, for other programming languages and technologies, such as HTML, JavaScript, and PHP. Also, it is almost certain that you’re going to work in some other languages too for completing the concerned project.

Therefore, it would be fruitful to go for a CSS editor that provides support for all, or, at least, some of these languages/technologies that you require working with.

Ensure, however, that the CSS editor that you are planning to choose provides support for the version of languages and/or technologies that you are deciding to use the same for. If not done so, the resulting issues are quite intimidating to deal with.

4. Ask your Co-Workers/Get Second, Third, or Maybe the Fourth Opinion

For those working in teams, it’s important to ask for the opinion of your team members before choosing a CSS editor. Although not mandatory, using the same open-source code editor can make collaboration easy and effective.

Other (Paid) Great CSS Editors

1. Sublime Text

Available for:

  • Linux
  • macOS 10.6 or later [Sublime Text 2]/macOS 10.7 or later [Sublime Text 3]
  • Windows

Developer - Sublime HQ
Initial Release - January 2008

Sublime Text is one of the most popular non-free code editors. The cross-platform shareware features a Python API and provides native support for an array of programming and markup languages. This includes JavaScript, Perl, PHP, Python, and Ruby.

Highlights:

  • Apply changes to several selected portions of the code with Multiple Selections.
  • High-degree of customization using JSON files.
  • Instant switching among projects.
  • Quick navigation to any part of the code using Goto Anything.
  • Split editing for editing files side-by-side.

2. Espresso

Available for:

  • macOS 10.13 or later

Developer - MacRabbit (original), Warewolf (present)
Initial Release - N/A

Espresso is the web CSS editor exclusively for macOS devices. It is a premium, fully-featured code editor that allows extracting and editing live editing style sheets. Espresso offers a clutter-free interface in addition to being lightweight and fast.

Highlights:

  • Build top-class standard CSS as well as modular SCSS and LESS using CSSEdit Tools.
  • Fast navigation with Navigator.
  • Live Preview with Browser Xray for viewing changes made to a website in real-time.
  • Quick switch among files.
  • Re-Indent allows for applying custom spacing.

3. Stylizer

Available for:

  • macOS 10.9 or later
  • Windows 7 or later

Developer - Skybound
Initial Release - N/A

Stylizer is a premium WYSIWYG CSS editor available for macOS and Windows platforms. It supports a one-of-its-kind Live Preview feature that, in addition to letting you see changes in real-time, generate warnings for the potential errors in the code.

Highlights:

  • It offers a real-time tree of the HTML DOM.
  • They are quick commenting with F8 on Windows and Command-8 on macOS.
  • Real-Time CSS reflects changes instantly across all browsers.
  • Style anything with Bullseye.
  • Supports responsive, cross-browser design.

4. Rapid CSS

Available for:

  • Windows 7 or later

Developer - Blumentals
Initial Release - N/A

Another top paid CSS editor option is Rapid CSS. The lightweight code editor facilitates creating modern HTML and CSS websites and UIs easily and quickly. It features a range of advanced search and replace tools and supports mobile web development.

Highlights:

  • Code snippet library and code templates.
  • Inbuilt multi-browser preview with screen-size testing, split-screen mode, and XRay.
  • Intelligent HTML and CSS code completion.
  • Powerful syntax highlighting for ASP.NET, JavaScript, Perl, PHP, XML, and more.
  • Supports FTP, FTPS, and SFTP.

5. Style Master

Available for:

  • macOS 10.4 or later
  • Windows NT or later

Developer - Westciv
Initial Release - N/A

Style Master is a CSS editor that supports an interface that is easy-to-pick-up not only for experts but also for newbies. It has a straightforward interface that is obvious to use. The commercial CSS editor allows stylesheet editing via FTP.

Highlights:

  • Craft best selectors for stylesheets using MRI.
  • Create stylesheets based on HTML.
  • Live CSS editing of dynamically generated websites, including ASP.NET, PHP, and Ruby.
  • Visualizes the web page layout using XRay.

6. Style Studio CSS Editor

Available for:

  • Windows 

Developer - High Dots
Initial Release - N/A

Could there be a CSS editor that has an interface resembling the MS Office 2000 or Windows XP? Yes, there is, and it is called Style Studio CSS Editor. Available exclusively for the Windows platform, the CSS editor comes with a range of pre-defined templates and several great features.

Highlights:

  • Built-in feature for detecting invalid properties.
  • CSS validation available.
  • Features colour picker and colour management.
  • Preview feature to instantly check changes made to the stylesheets.
  • Support for syntax colour-coding.

Summary

If that doesn’t convince you to try an open-source CSS editor, God knows what will! Anyways, that’s that. Don’t forget to share your opinions on the article. They are already appreciated! Which CSS editor is the best? Let us know in the comments.

People are also reading:

Akhil Bhadwal

Akhil Bhadwal

A Computer Science graduate interested in mixing up imagination and knowledge into enticing words. Been in the big bad world of content writing since 2014. In his free time, Akhil likes to play cards, do guitar jam, and write weird fiction. View all posts by the Author

Leave a comment

Your email will not be published
Cancel