TopStyle 5 is Here – and it’s Fantastic

Stefan van As – the gifted developer who took over TopStyle after I stopped working on it – just announced the release of TopStyle 5.0, and wow is it good.

Take a look at some of what’s new:

  • HTML5 and CSS3 support
  • CSS gradient generator
  • Text shadow generator
  • Use Google Chrome as the internal browser (!)
  • XRAY (love this feature – here’s a screenshot)
  • Secure FTP
  • Image map editor
  • Color contrast analyzer

…and a ton of other oft-requested, much-appreciated additions. Stop by the TopStyle download page to give it a try or buy the upgrade (it’s worth it).

Excellent work, Stefan – this is the TopStyle I never had time to create, and I’m thrilled to be using it.

ANN: TopStyle 4.0 Final Release

Several months ago I announced that Stefan van As had taken over TopStyle and was hard at work on version 4.0.  Today I get to announce that the final release of TopStyle 4.0 is here – and it’s a whole lot better than even I anticipated.

Seriously, Stefan has done a great job turning the aging TopStyle 3.0 into a tool that I believe every Windows-based web author should own.  There’s a ton of new stuff in this release, including:

  • Unicode support
  • Live FTP editing
  • Extensible toolbars
  • Script insight for ASP (both JavaScript and VBScript), PHP and ColdFusion
  • Live spelling
  • CSS definition support for IE8, Firefox 3 and Safari 3
  • IE8 document compatibility

My favorite new feature is probably the embedded WebKit preview which enables seeing how your site will look in Apple Safari, along with a very slick preview of how it will appear in an iPhone or iPod Touch:

Head over to the TopStyle 4 web site for complete details, including update pricing and trial version download.

ANTI-DISCLAIMER: I no longer earn anything from TopStyle sales, so I don’t benefit from gushing about the new release :)

TopStyle 4.0 Beta 3

Yes, I know – things have been silent here for far too long!  I’ll return to regular posting soon, but in the meantime, if you’re a TopStyle user you’ll definitely want to check out the latest TopStyle 4.0 beta from Stefan van As.  Stefan has done some great work with the new TopStyle, so be sure to try it out if you haven’t yet.

PS: You can hear about all new TopStyle releases by subscribing to the TopStyle News RSS feed.

Start the New Year With a New TopStyle

Earlier this month I announced that Stefan van As has acquired TopStyle, and I’m pleased to now announce that Stefan has just released the first beta of TopStyle 4.0.

There are some great additions in this new version, such as:

  • Unicode support (at long last!)
  • Live FTP editing
  • Customizable HTML toolbar
  • Code folding
  • Bookmarks

My favorite new feature has to be Unicode support.  I use TopStyle to edit all of FeedDemon’s CSS, HTML, XML and XSL files, and it’s great to finally be able to save them as UTF-8/UTF-16 in TopStyle.

If you’d like to try it out, stop by Stefan’s TopStyle 4 site to download it.  This is a beta, of course, so it comes with the usual warnings about not downloading it unless you’re comfortable using unfinished software.  That said, as long as you install TopStyle 4 in a different folder than TopStyle 3, you can still run both versions at the same time – so you can try out TopStyle 4 without fear of messing with the current version.

PS: Just a reminder that since TopStyle 4 is no longer “mine,” questions and comments about TopStyle 4 should be posted to Stefan’s TopStyle 4 newsgroups rather than to NewsGator’s TopStyle forums.  However, questions about TopStyle 3.5 should still be posted in our forums.

ANN: TopStyle Acquired by Stefan van As

I have some good news for TopStyle customers: we’ve reached an agreement with long-time Windows developer Stefan van As to acquire TopStyle, ensuring the future of the product.

Why is this good news?

It’s no secret that TopStyle has languished since I created FeedDemon several years ago.  I’ve had several false starts with the next version, only to be pulled away by other demands.  Honestly, it’s been clear for a long time that if TopStyle was going to continue, we’d have to find someone else to handle it – and now we have.

Why Stefan van As?

Stefan is one of those rare developers who can completely take charge of an entire application, and he’s got a good eye for design (as illustrated by his previous involvement with Macromedia Authorware and Adobe Captivate).

In fact, if you’ve been using TopStyle for a while, you may recognize his name: he’s the guy I hired several years back to develop a Dreamweaver extension which enabled using TopStyle as Dreamweaver’s CSS editor.  I found Stefan to be very capable and easy to work with, and it certainly helps that he’s so familiar with TopStyle.

What about TopStyle 4.0?

Stefan has already been working on the next version of TopStyle, adding some highly-demanded features to the product.  For example:

  • Unicode support
  • “Live” FTP editing
  • Extensible toolbuttons

Unicode support is long overdue, and I can tell you that adding it to TopStyle was no easy task.  The fact that Stefan could take over an existing product and add such a complex feature is a testament to his skill.

And it won’t end with TopStyle 4.0 – Stefan is committed to keeping TopStyle alive and well, so you can expect additional versions in the future.  You can find more details in the FAQ on Stefan’s site.

What will be your involvement, Nick?

Stefan will be completely taking over TopStyle, but I’ll be available to him whenever he needs me (which, knowing Stefan, won’t be too often!).  But I’ll remain a loyal TopStyle customer.  I continue to use it every day – it’s what I rely on to create FeedDemon’s newspapers, for example – and will stay involved with the TopStyle community.

Of course, part of me is sad to no longer be “the TopStyle guy.”  I put a lot of time and energy into that program, and I wish I could’ve done it justice over the past few years.  At the same time, I’m incredibly pleased that we found Stefan – I honestly wasn’t sure we’d find someone with the right set of skills for TopStyle, and I really worried about TopStyle’s future (as did many TopStyle customers).  To be able to hand over my creation to someone I’m completely confident about is quite a relief (and besides, it’ll be fun watching TopStyle’s development from the other side for a change!).

Good luck, Stefan – and thanks!

Can Mozilla Be Easily Embedded in a Windows App?

Among the most frequent requests we receive from FeedDemon customers is to enable using Mozilla/Firefox as the embedded browser, and this is something I would love to offer.  Unfortunately, I don’t see how this is possible.

Some history is required here.

Several years ago, Adam Lock created an ActiveX control wrapper for the Mozilla rendering engine (AKA: "Gecko"), and TopStyle was one of the first applications to use it.  This enabled TopStyle customers to preview their web pages in Internet Explorer side-by-side with Mozilla – a very popular feature, despite its problems.

Unfortunately, the ActiveX project hasn’t been updated since 2005, and appears to have been discontinued entirely.  Although TopStyle customers can still use this ActiveX control, it’s woefully outdated.  This is a big problem because the ActiveX control doesn’t embed the version of Mozilla/Firefox that’s installed on the customer’s computer – instead, it relies on the version of the Mozilla engine that’s included with the control.  This makes it practically useless, since customers want to know what their web pages look like in the most recent version of Firefox, not one from 2005.

Fast forward a couple of years, when the Mozilla team introduced a new way to embed the Mozilla engine.  It’s great that this is available, but it’s far more complex than the easily-embedded ActiveX control (especially for applications that also embed Internet Explorer).  And if I’m reading the docs correctly, it suffers from the same problem as that disbanded project: it requires third-party applications to bundle the rendering engine.  Meaning, of course, that it won’t automatically be up-to-date with the version of the rendering engine the customer already has installed.  So every time a new Firefox build is released, customers will want a new version of our software that includes the updated rendering engine.  That’s not a sustainable path for popular third-party applications like FeedDemon and TopStyle.

Which brings me to my question: am I missing something?  Is there actually a way to easily embed Mozilla in a Windows application, and can it be done in a way that uses the version of the rendering engine that’s already on the customer’s computer?

Where’s the TopStyle 3.5 Trial Version?

Now that TopStyle 3.5 is out, a number of customers have asked us where they can download the trial version. 

I generally like to wait a few weeks after a product release before putting out a trial version, so right now a trial of TopStyle 3.5 isn’t available.  But there will be one in a few weeks, once the rollout of TopStyle 3.5 has settled down.  I’ll post an announcement here when it’s available.

ANN: TopStyle 3.5 Final Release

At long last, the final release of TopStyle 3.5 is now available. My thanks go out to everyone who helped during the lengthy beta cycle – I hope you enjoy the new version!

As you can see from the release notes, version 3.5 isn’t a minor upgrade – it offers a ton of new features, improvements and fixes. It could easily have been called TopStyle 4.0, but I know customers have been waiting a long time for a new TopStyle, so we’ve named it v3.5 and made it a free upgrade from v3.0.

To get it, just stop by the TopStyle Registered Download page, then enter the serial number you received if you purchased TopStyle through NewsGator. If you purchased through another online store (such as RegNow), enter the email address you used when you placed your order. Note that there’s no need to uninstall the previous 3.x version before upgrading – just install v3.5 directly on top of it.

Top five new features in TopStyle 3.5:

  1. Box Spy – exposes an HTML tag’s margins, padding and content box as you mouse over it in the preview
  2. Live Preview – apply the current style sheet to an external URL
  3. Replace in Files – as requested by countless former HomeSite users who loved its "Extended Replace" feature
  4. New style definitions for Firefox 2, IE7, Safari 2 and Opera 9
  5. PNG images are now supported by the thumbnail viewer

Top five improvements in TopStyle 3.5:

  1. Faster performance throughout
  2. Insight now displays a list of HTML entities when & key is pressed
  3. Hitting TAB when text is selected now indents the selection (I know this seems like a minor improvement, but enough people asked for this that I figured it deserved to be included here)
  4. Support for printing in color
  5. Thumbnail viewer is now embedded in the file explorer for easier access

Top five fixes in TopStyle 3.5:

  1. Site reports and style insight now correctly support multiple class names (ex: <div class="class1 class2">)
  2. Style sweeper now does a much better job preserving CSS comments
  3. Thumbnail viewer now always shows the correct image dimensions regardless of the system font size
  4. W3C HTML Validator no longer fails due to invalid content-type
  5. A myriad of fixes to make TopStyle Vista-compatible

If you have any questions or comments about the new TopStyle, please stop by our support forums and we’ll follow up with you ASAP.

New Attention Report Coming in FeedDemon 2.6

Earlier this week, Nick Harris blogged about the "My Reading Habits" feature he’s adding to the next version of NewsGator Inbox (which, btw, is shaping up to be an excellent release).

This simple report gives an overview of the attention you’re spending on each of your subscriptions.  It’s a pretty cool feature, which is why it’s also being added to the upcoming FeedDemon 2.6. 

As you can see from the screenshot, lately the majority of my attention has been going to the TopStyle Support Forum, followed closely by the active cases in my FogBugz queue.  That’s the way it usually goes when there’s a beta version of one of my applications available – and pretty soon now, my attention report is going to show that I’m paying the most attention to the FeedDemon Support Forum, ‘cos the first beta of FeedDemon 2.6 is in the works :)