What annoys you about TopStyle?

Now that I’m working on TopStyle again, I’m wondering what I can do to make it less annoying.

Every piece of software has annoyances – seemingly minor things that over time really get on your nerves, like:

  • Constant dialog boxes asking you to confirm something you’ve confirmed 100 times before
  • Settings that change behind your back
  • Tasks which require too many keystrokes or mouse clicks
  • Features which take a while to complete yet give no visual indicator telling you when they’ll be done

So in addition to adding the usual bug fixes and new features to the next version of TopStyle, I’d also like to remove the things that annoy you. If there’s something in TopStyle that makes you grind your teeth, please let me know by posting a comment here.

59 thoughts on “What annoys you about TopStyle?

  1. When the preview bowser updates it always reverts to the top of the page, so that if you are, say, working on a footer, you have to scroll down every time you change a rule or save in the editor.

  2. This is cheekily OT, but… it’s a little annoying that Dreamweaver MX has now, in some essential ways, surpassed HomeSite+, forcing me to use the bulky DW; and TopStyle hasn’t evolved to become a lean, mean, WYSIWYG-free coding environment to succeed HomeSite and beat DW for hand-coders! I still love & use TopStyle for CSS, but while I totally appreciate its constraints, I still fantasize about having a Bradbury-built all-in hand-coding environment :-)

  3. The lack of Unicode support? I tried to migrate to WeBuilder some two years ago (for my HTML needs), when using anything other than UTF-8 stopped being an option in my work, but I still prefer TopStyle for CSS.

  4. There are two rather big annoyances for me. The site management is a little hard to understand, how it works, how it switches. Specifically, its usage in the sidebar and how you access the files has just too many steps. There may be a way to change that, but I never dug deep enough to try to: I was turned off by it right away.
    The second thing is how Topstyle handles PHP. I know it’s a CSS editor but it’s such a light weight program that it’s very tempting to use it to do more. Hence, the above, as well as my complaint about mapping. Mapping never made sense to me, perhaps my fault. I tried to set it up and follow the instructions but always found some error. How it applies site(s) wide is still a mystery as well. So perhaps a way to make that much easier. Code hints in PHP would be awesome, but that’s unexpected.
    Otherwise I’m glad Topstyle is moving forward again. I don’t use it anymore but would love an excuse to use it again. I know FeedDemon is your bag, Nick, but you have a touch and polish to your software (even your beta software!) that is enjoyable and admirable. In the future, when you are no longer Topstyles primary programmer, having your guidance at the company brings me security in my purchase.

  5. I guess the ‘viwe, sites, thumbnails, resources part. In some ways it’s cumbersome to use with the labels being vertical. I also have all my panels on the right side of the screen, so unless I feel like dragging them to the left, I’m stuck with going back and forth. If there’s someway to put them into the panels…so I have Ouput, Files Panel and then Sites View Thumnails there… or grouped into some new category. I feel I would use View, Sites, Resources etc more… it just seems awkard to click on them, so I don’t make use of them.

  6. missing UTF-8 is a big annoyance.
    I also hate how difficult it is to turn “Auto-convert special characters” on and off – there should be an menu button for it.
    the past 10 years I have been coding with Homesite and Topystyle before switching to do a lot of work in eclipse, because I mainly code in PHP now. Still on the PC I often use TopStyle for small stuff or fine-tuning of CSS files (though missing UTF support makes me use Notepad++ a lot). But recently I find myself switching to OS X more and more to do that because the excellent CSSEdit and the new Coda just feel more up to date and polished and offer features TS just doesn’t have (yet). But in my heart I’m still a windows guy and would love to see TS come back strong… (Nick, you should really check out CSSEdit and Coda for a bit of inspiration – if you got access to a Mac.)

  7. When there is an javascript error in the style sheet (win_png.htc not found), it’s a real pain to have to say : Ignre Javascript error each time.
    I also insert SPIP (http://www.spip.net/) specific langage tags in my CSS and the syntax coloring stop after each tag.
    I think syntax colotring should reset at each new line, and not at each }.
    Example : http://www.pyrat.net/plugins/_soyezcreateurs/stylessoyezcreateurs.css called by http://www.pyrat.net/
    Perhaps you could also create a linux version of TopStyle (or an Open Source version…) ?
    Regards.

  8. Two things come to mind (but only because you asked, Nick – it’s still a great piece of software :).
    1. It would be great if the Preview panel could jump to the element currently focused in the editor. I seem to spend ages hunting around for previews of specific elements.
    2. Maybe it’s when I use absolute positioning, but I get a lot of cluttered, overlaid elements in the preview window that often renders it useless because items are completely hidden. I’ve taken a screenshot which you can find here:
    http://bitrot.net/images/misc/topstyle.png
    Perhaps a solution to both issues would be an additional “mini preview” of the current element only, without all the positioning stuff, just to give a quick idea of the colours, fonts, etc.? Not sure how possible that would be but if I could wave a wand that’d be on my list. :-)
    Can’t wait to see the new version.
    Thanks,
    Mark

  9. I’d like to be able to use Topstyle in Ubuntu. So either a dedicated Linux version or one that works well with Wine would be good.
    I love the implementation of snippet short-cut keys in HomeSite 5.5, for me it works better than Topstyle’s current method.

  10. Grinding my teeth is a bit overkill, and your list of annoyances are pretty well absent too! :-)
    That said…just by chance today I tried to validate a CSS file with the W3C validator–one of my very favorite features of TS–but the W3C service must have been having trouble, because I got a dialog box that said “Contacting Service” and with it an hourglass that, well…hourglassed…and hourglassed…and hourglassed! Eventually, the dialog box just disappeared, then the cursor flickered constantly and the only way to get back to my work was to shut down TS and restart it. SO…maybe an “X” in that dialog box to stop searching for the validator if it hangs would be nice–that was annoying!
    Some other (very) minor annoyances:
    1-the Blog link in the View Bar, it seems to me to not fit in with the overall purpose of that Bar, which is to select functionality…so could you possibly move the link to the Help menu?
    2-remove the link to your Blog from the View menu, again easier from the Help menu
    3-make any link to your Blog open in the default browser instead of within TS, because it’s annoying to be working in TS, suddenly remember to check your blog for some info, and then “lose” the TS workspace because the blog has “taken it over”
    4-add a link to TopStyle Support in the Help menu, would save a few clicks to get to it from within the browser
    5-remove the link to “FeedDemon Home Page” from the Help menu…I know it’s probably good marketing, but…it’s annoying (this is TS after all)
    Thanks for opening this up for discussion–I have to say, while looking for a few “annoyances” I ran into all sorts of wonderful little features and functions I had either forgotten about or never known about, so it was a fun exercise!

  11. I annoy myself when I am in a position of file, I need to see a row of code in an other place of the file and then come back to the initial row.
    I find very useful the “bookmark” function of SciTE editor.
    An alternative should be the ability to see two window of the same file as Word.

  12. #1: that “recently used files” aren’t handled the same way as in “most other applications”, as in at the bottom of the file menu.
    #2: no way that I know of to tell the tag inspector / inline style inspector to “inspect THIS dammit”. Sometimes it seems to get confused and not kick in when otherwise it should.
    #3: be a better text editor. Block (rectangular) selection would be very helpful.
    But for the record … I live in TopStyle these days :-).
    Leo

  13. In the Files Panel, if I want to refresh the folder list, I think the only way I can do this is to hit F5. It might be easier to just click a refresh button to refresh all of the panes.

  14. 1. Tag completion is aggressive. Just about any feature that tries to “help” me is implicitly or explicitly guess my intentions, and that’s hard. I wish TS could be better at knowing things like: if there’s text after the cursor, maybe I shouldn’t close the tag being typed:
    (no text, so ok to close)
    There’s text…
    (there’s text, so don’t close)
    I’ve had assistants who wouldn’t use TS because of stuff like this (we know there’s an “off” option). Maybe there’s a UX idiom for this, like:
    – guess I want to close the tag at the end of the text
    – select the closed text you add so it’s ready for delete, copy or some other pointing operation you could offer to let me “drop it” in the right place (but don’t make me touch the mouse)
    2. Many editors these days understand FTP. I have a new need for that.
    3. If TS has trouble opening a file from the MRU list on the File menu it assumes the file’s gone, then deletes it from the MRU. But maybe the drive’s disconnected.

  15. Hi Nick
    My list; what I would like in TopStyle 4.
    FTP client: work directly to your webserver, and up/download files .
    PHP and ASP editor, dropdown functions for example.
    DataBase inspector, MySQL.
    Tag inspector within a PHP/ASP tag.
    PHP/ASP colorcoding within xhtml tag.

  16. Hi Nick
    Magnus Rydman from Sweden again; Many of us who loved Homesite switched to TopStyle and use it as a full-blown web editor. TopSyle is not only a css-edtor, many out there thinks so but you have all you need in TS. I don’t miss HomeSite any more, I have explored TS and it’s very powerful and very friendly to use.
    I miss a editor for special characters as HS has, as well.
    Magnus

  17. No Tips/Did You Know panel. (unless I missed it or it’s turned off :) ) Programs like The Bat and FTP Voyager have a tips/did you know… which I actually found useful because it let me know about features I haven’t been using etc.
    I think I remember reading one of the biggest problems with Office is that people request features that are ALREADY in office, but don’t know about them. I think that may be the case with TopStyle is that there are features people are requesting, but they actually are already in TopStyle and just don’t know how to access them.

  18. I miss having code collapse, but would like a better implementation than the one in HomeSite, as when there is collapsed code the scrolling gets messed up, making sudden jumps.

  19. HI NICK CAN I HAVE IT FOR MY TRS-80 IT HAS A PARALLELS PORT, IS THAT ENOUGHT>??>
    The productivity killers in topstyle:
    – working with webdrive (ie, remote servers mounted as local disks) files *constantly* generates updates, even when moving lines in the editor – the queries about what to do with a temporary file went too far.
    – not being able to click a visual style definition and skip to that part of the file
    – pressing tab/ shift-tab with selected text, and you’re expecting it to indent the block, rather than replace it with a tab character :)
    Otherwise… it’s still light years ahead.

  20. .
    .
    .
    silence as this suggestion enters the Pub.
    .
    .
    .
    “How about TopStyle on Mac?”
    .
    .
    .
    Everyone stares through narrowed eyes
    .
    .
    .
    Alan gulps and leaves quickly.
    Yep. I know it’s not possible (is it?) for a while or ever (you can see I know (not) what I’m talking about eh?). But I still pine for the lovechild of Mac and TopStyle. Btw. I love TopStyle and I think Nick is brilliant and I used it exclusively before I switched so please read nothing -ve from this post. And yes, I know I can use TopStyle via Parallels etc, but, you know, it’s just not the same…

  21. Topstyle is still #1 in my box of tricks – and it’s great to hear that 3.5 is on it’s way – here are few minor annoyances:
    CSS selectors list: when categorised by type they expand on refresh or save of the page, even when the list of, say Elements, has been minimised, the next save will re-expand the list, annoying when trying to hide a long list of reset style elements FI.
    Using an external monitor with a laptop – possibly all two screen setups with screens at different heights – when i undock and set the preview screen to the second monitor, the position is never remembered, it usually ends up half off the screen at restart or selection of the same layout.
    Have to admit that i hardly ever use the preview screen any more – Firefox with firebug is my standard mode of viewing dynamic/any site. Usual mode is open firebug>inspect >click on ID/class/element >copy ID/class from firebug HTML inspector >CTL+F CTL+V into Topstyle search. It would be amazing to go straight to the class/Id/element in Topstyle. Perhaps something along these lines planned for 4.0?

  22. 1. When dragging selected text to another document with splitted view the first code is selecting to the top.
    2. It’s difficult to select closing tags — triple click works bad there.
    3. Too non-standard indent/unindent keyboard shortcuts.
    4. Cannot make multiple links by dragging files from the File list panel.
    5. I can jump between opening and closing tag, but cannot select both of them with content between them.
    6. Can’t redo after saving.
    7. When I comment a block of code, if there are other comment marks inside, the comment gets incorrect.
    TopStyle should insert a closing comment mark between every existing opening closing mark and insert opening comment mark after every existing closing mark (like IntelliJ Idea). Does it make sense? :)
    8. No pop-up tips for inline CSS.
    9. Cannot drop text files with unknown extensions on the editor to edit them.
    10. I use XHTML tags syntax, and when I open JSP files (without any HTML declaration), I’m not happy that TopStyle inserts non-XHTML tags. TopStyle should use a tag set that I want.
    Anyway – excellent program, perhaps I didn’t find something there to solve these issues. But I’m trying to work with Vim now :)
    Thank you Nick.

  23. Common annoying impression:
    TopStyle is excellent for static HTML/CSS files and links relative to the current document.
    But it would be great if the program trust to me that terrible files (jsp, inc, php etc.) have the same good old HTML with real links and other stuff.
    Thank you again for the wonderfull work.

  24. I didn’t know till after I started typing this that “show insight” was what would bring back the in-line picker thing after I dismiss it too soon.

  25. I’d like to be able to color-code text like with a yellow highlighter. Lots of colors.

  26. Two niggles in the current Topstyle:
    * I’m running on Vista Enterprise and after a search the currrent document is not activated anymore like on XP. So if I search for a phrase, then press Escape to close the search, I cannot start typing until I use the mouse to active the open editor window for the current file.
    * The other thing is a more intelligent syntax highlighter (for me for asp/vbscript / html): See the screenshot at http://img186.imageshack.us/img186/326/topstylezc0.png.
    1. delimiters for asp/php not highlighted properly if they’re on the same line as the comment (line 29)
    2. syntax highlighting for the wrong language in mixed documents because of point 1 (line 30-32)
    3. code within same-line delimiters not highlighted properly if within quotes (line 34)
    Hope that helps.
    Finally I hope you can improvie on some kind of IntelliSense for html attributes and asp classic similarly to Visual Web Developer Express.

  27. Oh another idea: spelling checking on keyword tables to indentify misspelled keyword with a nice wiggly line underneath (respones.write etc)

  28. Let’s say I’m editing just two files within Topstyle. I’ve got an HTML file and its associated CSS file.
    I do not want the preview pane to EVER show the CSS file. I only want it to show the HTML file. Yet every time I make a change to the CSS the preview always changes to show the CSS directly and not the end product.
    Some kind of setting that would allow you to ‘lock’ the preview pane to a certain file would be awesome.

  29. @MikeF: when you’re editing a CSS file, you can choose to preview it using any HTML document you like. Just click the “Select Preview File” toolbutton above the embedded browser.

  30. Hi Nick,
    these is my points:
    1. the unchecked option “enable redo after save”: I mean… why? Every editor permits redo after save.
    2. why the tab button doesn’t work for multiple line indentation?
    Anyway, I think the list by Magnus Rydman would be a great starting point for the next release…
    Thank you!

  31. What’s badly needed, for me :
    – Unicode! Here in Europe the only sane way to build websites is Unicode all the way, babies.
    – mapping or preview to an URL, not a file. I mainly work with CMSes these days. They typically use a single index.php file to display every page, so you just can’t preview a specific page within TopStyle. I wish I could set the preview panel to an address like http://localhost/myNiceCMS/products/ubik2000.
    – Also when you work with CMSes, previewing the php file is often useless because it’s just a part of the final page (i can be a template file, an inserted html block…), so it would be great to be able to set the same preview URL with the php/html files too.
    – live split preview, with at least 2 browser engines (a “sane one” like Gecko, and IE).

  32. One thing I seem to remember (having to download TopStyle again before), is that the default look when you first start the program is very overwhelming. To a new person, I think they may find the look too cumbersome. Of course after using TopStyle for a looonnggg time, I’m used to the ability to customize so many areas and know the programs ins and outs.
    So long story short (too late I know), I think the default view of topstyle should have all the panels in tabs with minimal toolbar buttons. Couple this will hints/tips when you launch topstyle, and I think users will be more comfortable using the minimal view and then adding on more buttons etc as they learn the program.

  33. Haha, yep. Unicode support would be awesome. Although there is no intergrated FTP support even no matter how much I want it, I can live without it but without Unicode support, it’s really really tough.

  34. A few comments above I talked about a previewing an URL, instead of a file. Yesterday I had a look at Komodo Edit, the free version of Komodo IDE, and guess what ? You can call an URL as a preview. This kind of flexibility is really neat.

  35. Nick,
    I must congratulate you on your timing. I was just about to jump ship, thinking TopStyle had been left for dead! I hate switching software.
    My pet hates/niggles are:
    1. Lack of Unicode support.
    2. Unable to open files without an extension, unless by going the “Show context menu” route.
    3. Inability to add code highlighting for other languages.
    4. Lack of code collapse function.
    5. Gecko rendering support has to be added manually.
    6. Regular expression support in Find/Search is limited.
    7. Navigating around multiple open files using left and right screen arrows only.
    9. Inability to save/print/copy information under “Messages” tab of output window.

  36. Nick,
    I heart topstyle and I use it almost everyday. Some things that would be nice to have.
    – Have the ability to use plugin editors like Vimemu (I use for SQL server and Visual Studio). I use Vim for everything other than CSS and it would be great if it was in topstyle as well.
    – and ofcourse OS X version so that I don’t have to boot up parallels :)
    – asp.net, c# support

  37. The thing that annoys me most about TopStyle is its lack of scriptability / extensibility. Editors like TextMate and E-TextEditor have proved that being able to use scripting languages to process text and enhance the UI really make for a very useful product. The bundles paradigm in those apps is a stroke of genius.
    Another other thing that annoys me is the rather primitive snippets functionality as compared, again, with TextMate and E-TextEditor (and jEdit’s SuperAbbrevs plugin).
    I’d also love to be able to save and share syntax colour schemes.
    Finally, I was always annoyed with the lack of a shortcut to select tag content.

  38. Ooh, forgot another annoyance: in large CSS files, the list of selectors in the selectors pane can get really long and unwieldy and thus annoying, so it would great if the list could be narrowed down by instant searching (like in Firefox’s about:config dialog) and also if it parsed comments. Being able to see comments in the selector list in order to delimit sections of it would be *really* useful. It would be great if the selector list could be ordered by comments too: with the comment acting as a folder node and the selectors that fall under it becoming children of that “folder”.

  39. I think Charles’ suggestion about filtering the selection list is a great one.
    Another idea, if it’s even doable, is to look into whether Safari on Windows is embeddable and offer it as a preview option.
    Better mappings support. I always had to go through and set up mappings before I could answer any support questions on that. There’s just a general lack of intuitiveness about it.
    Full support for bookmarks.
    With preview, I like the suggestion of seeing two windows with the same document, but I’ve got a twist. I think it’d be handy to see a comparison of the saved file along with one showing edits that haven’t been saved. I edit/save/undo/save a lot to achieve the same basic result.

  40. Although registered TS user, I like TSLite a lot for quick css editing; unfortunately, at least on Windows Vista, it gives me an “Exception EOLeSysErro in module TSLite.exe at 0005D89D. Error accessing the OLE registry” – If I remember correctly, I cannot open TSLite either on a WinXP laptop… Great to be able to look forward to TS 4!!!

  41. Update: TSLite works if I check Run as Admin in its properties – but I get Vista’s Cancel or Allow warning everytime – I’m still better off this way :)

  42. Hi Nick, thank you for your time of coding.
    I’ve always been inspired by your way of thinking like a HTML developer.
    Currently I’m still using Homesite, because it provides that much flexibility (inventend greatly by your way of programming) and taking TopStyle mostly only as CSS-Editor while Dreamweaver is far too slow.
    Why I’m using Homesite over TopStyle:
    1. It’s fast. (Okay, TS is too!)
    2. It has FTP-Support (okay, here are sometimes lag-times), SFTP is missing for me.
    3. Snippets (they are all I need, I never get warm with the Clip Library, above all it starts with TopStyle Links –> would be nice to have some real good code clips here already after installation)
    4. You can customize nearly every Command with your own shortcut. Wonderful. Already included in TS.
    5. Extended Replace (you’re working on this, I see :) )
    6. The three editor buttons besides the Resource Tab: “Split current document”, “Word wrap” and “Show hidden characters”. For the first there is no equivalent in TS, or?
    6. You can even customize the dialogs (although this is not that important with good dialogs like in TS and it would blow up the code, I assume)
    Some annoyances/wishes might have been already mentioned above:
    1. PHP mapping.
    2. Edit Toolbar isn’t enabled by default. I think many, many users search for an undo button in an editor at beginning.
    3. Clip Library -> see 3. above. Perhaps there’s a blog entry/help item with a guide to convert between HomeSite and TopStyle.
    4. Auto-activate hyperlinks by default. U-A. A tooltip for activation after installation would be better, or default CTRL-Click. It took me several weeks to get to the preference, because — like many others too — I’m not reading dialogs! ;)
    5. Unicode support.
    Many greetings, Volker E.

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