Finding one web design application for markup, CSS and FTP

I’ve spent the last 11 years trying to find the perfect web design software that will do (X)HTML/PHP coding, CSS and FTP all in one. Like a lot of web designers, I started Hurricane Web Design using Dreamweaver but found it had features I would never use (bloat), the FTP was inadequate and the live preview didn’t give a good representation of what the design would look like in standards compliant browsers.

After getting fed up of Dreamweaver, I switched to TextMate for coding and CSS and Transmit for FTP. I liked how TextMate was clean and would get out of my way to just let me code my web design. It would integrate with Transmit for FTP somewhat, but not nearly enough. Working with CSS was adequate at best. You would add or change CSS, then refresh in a standards compliant browser like Firefox or Safari (this was before Chrome) to see if what you did looked good or even worked.

CSSEdit makes the CSS portion of web design easier

Then roughly three years ago I discovered CSSEdit by MacRabbit. CSSEdit allows you to edit the CSS for a web design and give you a live preview of the changes you had just made within the application in a built-in standards compliant browser without ever having to save and refresh. You could view a website – any website, even one you didn’t own – in the browser, extract the style sheet and make changes or additions without affecting the version everyone else would see. Once you got it looking the way you wanted, you’d upload the CSS to the website. This saved me countless hours designing and editing the CSS for websites. But, this still was not the complete package as I needed an application to markup the HTML or PHP and another for FTP to upload. Three applications to accomplish what I needed for web design.

Coda plus CSSEdit almost perfect for web design

Within the last year I switched to Coda for the markup and FTP portion of my web design and development projects. Coda is a nice piece of software and was the best application I had used for markup. The interface is clean, includes code snippets, allows you to manage multiple files at once and organizing all of your web projects so you can access them in one window. The FTP portion of the application works great and makes uploading, downloading and synching between the server and your computer easy. It is almost perfect. Almost. Editing CSS was still much better in CSSEdit compared to Coda. Now I was down to two applications.

CSSEdit goes Kaboom

Vancouver web design with Espresso KaboomI was briefly horrified to hear that MacRabbit was discontinuing CSSEdit until I heard they were integrating with version 2 of their markup and FTP application Espresso Kaboom. Could I finally have one application to do everything I want? Find out my review of Espresso 2 Kaboom beta for web design and development in my next post.