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You'll find just about every "best way to..." opinion here. My suggestion is just use whatever is easiest for you to use, but learn enough of the syntax to make adjustments/changes as you see fit.
Macromediacs please don't blast me I like dreamweaver.
LOL...Macromediacs - I like it.
korkus (if you don't mind the more familiar useage of your nick)..you needn't worry about being "blast"[ed] here. This board doesn't necessarily flame people for their opinions...disagree, yes, but not flame.
TopStyle is good...I downloaded the demo but it just turned out to be more than I really wanted to learn. The aspect I DID like was being able to see the sheet laid out before you. with Dreamweaver, you open stylesheets in the Text -> CSS Styles window of your site and don't get the actual sheet in front of you. I tend to build my sheets in DW and then open them in a text editor to do any tweaks.
because i've caught a bad case of compression fever from reading WebmasterWorld
you may want to take a look at
this thread [webmasterworld.com]
and this [webmasterworld.com]
also there is a top style extension that integrates it into dreamweaver, a free download from the macromedia site.
I exclusively use Homesite/TopStyle, but that means you have to hand-code everything (something I think everyone should know how to do). On the plus side, you get a lot more control, and it visually lays out your changes in a preview section.
You can d/l the demo and use it indefinitely - it is the same as the paid version, except you have a promo splash screen on enter, exit, and about every 5th or 7th save.
I haven't really tried Dreamweaver, so I don't have an opinion on it's CSS merits...
I tend to build my sheets in DW and then open them in a text editor to do any tweaks.
I agree. For that text editor I use top style. I use homesite the same way. I usually use DW for initial layout and design. Then I take it to homesite and top style.
Dreamweaver to me is a high level web page designer. Then I need something else to tweek the code.
I write ALL of my CSS by hand, in fact, even when using Top Style, I write the large majority of the styles rather than selecting from the drop down menus. I find there is better "sticking power" this way... and I develop a greater appreciation and understanding of CSS as well.
With Homesite, I will often write my styles directly into the head content for quick editing. I can see the results almost instantly so this is a great work aid for me; it speeds up the development cycle.
Also, if I am working with positioned elements, divs with assigned id's for instance, I can monitor the effect of any additional .class declarations that may be applied to elements contained within the positioned divs.
After I have finished the layout and made any final adjustments to the styles, I will add the .class declarations to an external stylesheet. At times I will add the #id declarations as well - but if they are primarily for positioned elements used only on this partcular page, I will leave those embedded in the document, rather than adding "single-page-only" styles to an external stylesheet, thereby saving unecessary caching. If however, the positioned #id declarations are part of a "template layout" then I will add them to an external stylesheet. Here again cut and paste works nicely, and Topstyle IS a nice tool for managing a large group of style sheets.
One point I want to stress is this: much of CSS is about RELATIONSHIPS; how elements and styles relate to each other within a document. I cannot stress this enough. Understanding these relationships is key to learning and appreciating the power of CSS.
External editors often become a hindrance when they mask the obvious importance of this issue through separation, i.e. write over here, edit over there and then view the result. Writing directly to the document allows quick observation of applied styles. It is quicker, as well as being a great "debugging" method. I catch any style errors within the parent document.
CSS - a study of relationships using applied styles.
If you are not quite sure what I mean, then think about the CSS box model (margins, padding & borders) or consider position:relative and float. How about the top and bottom margins of headings and lists? Yep, as I said:it's all about relationships!
Whew! That said on done, the abbreviated answer is: manually! ;)
...but when I get to that point of changing things one property at a time and testing and retesting in three browsers after every change, trying like h*ll to get everything to act acceptable in NN4, nothing beats keeping the CSS file open and changing things by hand as I go.
Hats off to anyone with the fortitude to do anything important in Notepad!
I believe coding by hand/manually is the best. You can avoid all tags that can cause problems, and with Notepad you soon learn the ALT+F,S, ALT+Tab, F5 trick that saves the file, takes you to IE and refreshes to the latest version. Or maybe Netscape 4, for everyone that wants they work to function on any browser!
Better than Notepad though (a recent find), is CSE HTML Validator, available at htmlvalidator.com. I don't use it for anything other than the syntax highlightin and you can check syntax with a press of the F6 key.