Web-Based Tools for Optimizing, Formatting and Checking CSS
Stylesheets can get large real quickly, both in terms of length and file size. To ensure that your web pages render correctly and quickly, here’s a compilation of some of the best free, web-based CSS optimizers/compressors, code formatters, and validation services. Check them out and pick the ones that work best for you.
Optimizing and Compression
CSS Optimizer is a simple online optimizer that processes your current CSS and outputs the compressed version. You have the option of linking to the URL of your stylesheet, uploading a CSS file, or directly inputting your styles. It’s a simple tool that’s "plug-and-chug" – there are no options, so the optimization procedure will remain the same for all your inputs (great if you’d like to standardize compression settings).
Clean CSS is based on the popular CSS minifier, CSSTidy. You can set your desired compression level (the trade-off to higher compression is more difficult readability) and customize compression options. It prints out a line-by-line report afterwards to show you exactly what’s been changed. Also check out CSS Formatter and Optimiser, which uses a more recent version of CSSTidy (1.3dev).
CSS Drive’s CSS compressor has two modes, Regular mode and Advanced mode (which has a few more options that you can set). You can remove the comments (strip comments option) or specify to strip comments that exceed a certain character limit, thus retaining comments that are short. Regular mode is perfect for those that aren’t picky – just choose between Light, Normal, and Super Compact compression and you’re ready to rock.
Online CSS Optimizer is another simple CSS optimization tool based on the CSS optimizer command-line application for OS X and Linux. You have two ways to input your CSS: either via the text box provided on the page or directly linking to your stylesheet. Sometimes you’ll find that you need to reverse the compression – you can do so by using the Uncompress CSS application on the site.
Another popular web-based CSS compression tool is Robson’s open-source CSS Compressor, (check out the CSS Compressor PHP source code). There are plenty of compression options you can set that deals with colors, measurements (units), rules, and CSS properties. CSS Compressor also provides a useful Combine utility for simultaneously combining and compressing up to three separate CSS files.
The flumpCakes Style Sheet Optimizer is another optimizer and formatter with a few options. It gives you the choice of automatically combining background, font, list, and border attributes into short-hand notation and a Pretty Print option that standardizes code format. One cool feature is the Backlink feature which provides you a URL that you can bookmark and return to anytime to view your stylesheet’s compressed state.
FormatCSS allows you to paste your valid CSS code, correcting and standardizing your source code. There’s several available settings and rules that you can apply to achieve the type of format you desire – including ordering your CSS alphabetically, de-capitalizing your code, and some options for dealing with styles.
Tabifier is multi-language web-tool specifically designed for standardizing indents in source code. It supports HTML, CSS, and C Style. It’s a simple tool, excellent for quickly formatting your indents.
Validating and Checking
Perhaps the most common web-based validation service for CSS is the W3C CSS Validation Service. It’s very simple to use, just enter the URL of your stylesheet and it will output the status of your stylesheet and point out errors, warnings and other issues.
Juicy Studio’s CSS Analyser combines the W3C validation service with additional checks of color contrast (helpful for vision-impairment accessibility issues) and units of measurement used in your source code. You can input the CSS either via the URL or copying your code onto the text box provided on the page. The result is a very detailed breakdown of errors and warning about your CSS, similar to the W3C CSS Validation Service.
CSS Redundancy Checker is a simple tool for checking to see if you have redundant styles that can be combined together. This reduces unneeded styles and is a good way to check your work. It’s a three-step process: simply link to your stylesheet, put a few pages that use the stylesheet, and press the "check" button. The output is a detailed list of suggestions and places where you can reduce code by combining redundant styles.
If you’ve used any of the tools above, please share your experiences (good and especially bad) with us in the comments.
Since these are automated and have standard processing methods, please exercise caution and use your own judgment when using the outputs – things can get badly broken so do thoroughly test the results!
If you liked this post, these other posts might also be interesting to you:
- 30 Exceptional CSS Techniques and Examples
- 20 Useful Tools to Make Web Development More Efficient
- 15 Tools to Help You Develop Faster Web Pages
This was published on Jul 12, 2008