15 Essential CSS Tools and Applications for Developers

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) can be considered as a style sheet language which is used for describing the presentation semantics (the look and formatting) of a document written in a markup language. It has been is widely used and popular amongst web developers over the world. CSS is mainly designed to enable the separation of document content (written in HTML or a similar markup language) from document presentation, including elements such as the layout, colors, and fonts.


CSS also allows the same markup page to be presented in different styles for different rendering methods, such as on-screen, in print, by voice (when read out by a speech-based browser or screen reader) and on Braille-based, tactile devices. CSS specifies a priority scheme to determine which style rules apply if more than one rule matches against a particular element. In this so-called cascade, priorities or weights are calculated and assigned to rules, so that the results are predictable.

Tools of the Trade

We have listed 15 essential tools and applications for developers that will play a pivotal role in developing and designing applications. With the following tools you will be able to quickly test snippets of css code, allow you to apply any number of filters from a list and customize their values, and to easily understand functions with line charts. The following list of tools and applications will assist and simplify the work of developers and designers. If you know any other useful CSS tools and applications please name it in the comment section, we would love to hear from you, we hope you will find this list handy and useful.

1. CSS Desk : An online CSS Sandbox

CSSDesk is an Online CSS Sandbox. It enables users to quickly test snippets of CSS code, and watch the result appear live. I had very high ambitions for the project. There are line numbers and syntax highlighting appear live in the text box as you type. One of the greatest things is that it allows users to share their code with others as well.
And also, if you haven’t heard about Google’s Code Playground, it’s a web-based tool that lets web developers try out all of the APIs that Google provides, tweak the code, and see the results. Google’s Code Playground lets you play around without opening an external editor, and all of the APIs are loaded for you in the Pick an API box.

2. Prefix Free

Prefix free lets you use only unprefixed CSS properties everywhere. It works behind the scenes, adding the current browser’s prefix to any CSS code. Processes every stylesheet in (link or style) elements and adds a vendor prefix where needed. Just include prefixfree.js anywhere in your page. It is recommended to
put it right after the stylesheets, to minimize FOUC.

3. CSS Horus : Responsive CSS Framework

CSSHórus is a CSS framework for quickly creating responsive and mobile websites that works cross-browser. The framework has a 16 column grid and base styles for the reset, typography, tables, lists, forms and buttons. It is available as both CSS + LESS and includes 960px + 1200px grids in PSD format for designing easier. There is support for all major browsers starting from IE7+ and platforms lik iOS, Symbian, Windows Phone and more.

4. SoFresh : Automated Browser Refreshes for CSS Update

SoFresh!, a bookmarklet, extends it a little further, works without inserting a JS file to our web pages and allows us to choose which CSS file to refresh. In case you don’t have such a live-updating development environment, you should definitely give this tool a try.

5. CSS FilterLab by Adobe

CSS FilterLab is a free-to-use online application, created by Adobe, for discovering CSS Filters & CSS Custom Filters. It allows us to apply any number of filters from a list, customize their values, see the output instantly and get the CSS rules generated. There is also an “animate” feature which makes it possible to create keyframe based animations using the filters and save them for future use.

6. Kube Framework : A Minimal Responsive CSS Framework

If you need a base when starting a new project and don’t want it to be complicated, Kube Framework can be a good choice. The framework is a single CSS file that brings responsive layouts with no headache and offers more. Kube includes styles for forms, grids, buttons, tables, typography and few other stuff like links or images. For developers looking for maximum flexibility and customization, LESS files are also provided.

7. Easings.net : CSS and JavaScript for Easing Functions

Easings.net is a very useful website for understanding and using such easing functions. Each function is displayed with a line chart where hovering them automatically runs an animation with that curve. And, we can see how each function can be used with CSS, SCSS and JavaScript (jQuery Easing plugin).

8. CSScomb : Sort CSS Properties in a Given Order

CSScomb, a free service sorts CSS properties in any order you want (and, their default order is pretty good too from the most to least important-). It works with both single + multi-line CSS code and besides the online version, there are add-ons provided for the most popular IDEs.

9. ResponsiveAeon : CSS3 Grid System Framework

ResponsiveAeon is a HTML5/CSS3-powered framework for creating responsive layouts very quickly. It has a grid system that is based on 12 columns with 1104px width in total and offers a very easy to understand usage with only 3 basic classes. The framework makes use of @mediaqueries and can work with any device in any size.

10. CSS3Ps : Convert Your Photoshop Layers into CSS3 Styles

CSS3Ps is free cloud based photoshop plugin that converts your layers to CSS3. You can select several layers and groups of layers and convert them in one click. Stroke is converted into CSS border property. Inner Shadow, Inner Glow, Drop Shadow, Outer Glow are converted into CSS box-shadow property. You can see the result styles in browser and share them with other people. It works on Windows or Mac OS X and Photoshop CS3 and later. And best of all, it’s absolutely free!

11. Photon

Photon is a JavaScript library which can add simple lighting effects to any element in the 3D space. In order to create the effect, it uses the WebKitCSSMatrix object (WebKit is the only supported browser engine).The angle of the light can be defined and changed anytime with the provided functions. It is possible to define the objects to be lighted one-by-one or group them at once and we can customize the effect by setting the max black + white usage.

12. Morf.js

Morf.js, is a Javascript work-around for hardware accelerated CSS3 transitions with custom easing functions including bounce, spring, elastic and much more. Once an easing function is triggered through JavaScript, it is created usingwebkit-keyframes. The library uses Shifty.js for tweening regular CSS properties and it is WebKit only.

13. Gumby : Responsive CSS Framework

Gumby is a responsive and 960px-grid CSS grid framework that can be customized to work in every resolution with almost no effort. Its fluid-fixed layout self-optimizes the content for desktop, tablet and mobile resolutions and there is support for nested grids. Similar to Twitter Bootstrap, it includes a web UI Kit of good looking buttons, forms, navigation + tabs and a tiny JavaScript file that brings these components to life. Gumby has multiple versions to download: 12 columns, 16 columns, a hybrid one or an all-in-one package. And, there are PSD files provided to ease designing with the grid.

14. Css2Less

Css2Less is a web-based tool for converting CSS files into LESS by simply copy-pasting the styles. The tool uses the css2less Ruby library in the backend and its website is open sourced for anyone willing to host it themselves.

15. CSS3 Shapes

CSS3’s properties enable us to create many different shapes by styling a single element. CSS3 Shapes is a project that shares the styles for many different shapes including triangle, diamond, star, comment bubble, egg, heart and more. For sure, not all of them are functional for daily use but they are definitely good for inspiration and improving our CSS(3) skills.

Get Our Feeds Delivered To Your Inbox

Like This Post


Feedback 1 Comment

  1. […] 15 Essential CSS Tools and Applications for Developers – We have listed 15 essential tools and applications for developers that will play a pivotal role in developing and designing applications. […]

Leave a Reply