10 of the Best CSS3 Code Generators

Craig Buckler
Craig Buckler
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This article was written in 2011 and remains one of our most popular posts. If you’re keen to learn more about CSS3, you may find this recent article on transform techniques of great interest.
I have rose-tinted memories of CSS2.1. Rounded corners may have caused hours of Photoshopping grief, but it was simple. Most developers could recall the few dozen properties without referring to reference books every two minutes. CSS3 changes everything. There are 116 new properties* with multiple vendor prefixes and different syntaxes. No one could be expect you to memorize everything. Fortunately, there are a number on free online tools which will help you create modern CSS3 code to cut and paste into your stylesheets…

CSS 3.0 MakerCSS 3.0 Maker screenshot

CSS 3.0 Maker is a fabulous tool. You can define box radii, gradients, text shadows, box shadows, transforms, transitions and rotations by adjusting a few sliders. A preview area shows the result and indicates which desktop and mobile browsers support the properties. CSS code can be copied from the Codeview box and downloaded within an HTML file which demonstrates the effect.

LayerStyles.orgLayerStyles screenshot

Photoshop users will love LayerStyles. CSS3 effects are defined using a layer style dialog which will be immediately familiar to anyone using Adobe products. It’s easy, logical, and a joy to use. Code can be copied from the dynamically-updated “CSS Code” viewer in the bottom-left of the screen.

CSS3 GeneratorCSS3 Generator screenshot

CSS3 Generator uses a wizard-like approach to define styles. Choose from a variety of effects including border radius, text shadow, box shadow, multiple columns, transforms and transitions. Then, complete a few boxes to apply them to the preview element. CSS3 Generator highlights which browsers and versions support the effect and, where possible, provides IE-specific filter code.

CSS3 PlaygroundCSS3 Playground screenshot

CSS3 Playground has been created by freelance developer Mike Plate
. As well as supporting a range of CSS3 properties, it’s the only tool which allows you to preview effects on more than one element and change the content of the boxes. Amazing.

CSS3 Button GeneratorCSS3 Button Generator screenshot

CSS3 effects can produce great-looking buttons without images. The CSS3 Button Generator allows you to tweak the font, padding, border, background gradient, inner shadow, drop shadow and text shadows using up/down controls which can be easier and more logical than sliders. As well as providing cross-browser CSS3 code, the tool allows you to store and share styles with others. You can browse showcased buttons and adjust the properties for your own use.

CSS Tricks Button MakerCSS Tricks Button Maker screenshot

Button Maker was developed by Chris Coyier of CSS Tricks. Although it was intended as a technology demonstration, that hasn’t prevented it being useful to CSS3 developers! Button Maker doesn’t support some of the more extreme CSS3 properties but it’s one of the only tools to show hover effects.

Ultimate CSS Gradient GeneratorUltimate CSS Gradient Generator screenshot

If pushed, even I can recall the text-shadow property. CSS3 gradients? No chance. Gradients may be powerful but they’re convoluted and, until recently, webkit browsers used a different syntax. Unless you’re creating a very simple background, a gradient generator is essential. The Ultimate CSS Gradient Generator is, well, the ultimate gradient generator. It uses a similar interface to Photoshop and creates cross-browser code which includes IE filters. Finally, gradients can be saved and shared with a unique link. You’ll definitely want to bookmark this tool. Have I missed your favorite CSS3 code generator? * That number of new properties is entirely made up. I’ve no idea whether it’s correct but it sounded reasonable. I doubt anyone will refute it … unless there are any CSS pedants with a few hours to spare?

Frequently Asked Questions about CSS3 Code Generators

What is a CSS3 Code Generator and why is it useful?

A CSS3 Code Generator is a tool that allows developers to create CSS3 code snippets quickly and efficiently. It is useful because it saves time and effort by automatically generating code for various CSS3 properties. This tool is especially beneficial for beginners who are still learning the ropes of CSS3, as it provides a visual interface to create code, eliminating the need to remember syntax details.

How do I use a CSS3 Code Generator?

Using a CSS3 Code Generator is quite straightforward. You select the CSS property you want to generate code for, adjust the parameters as per your requirements, and the tool will automatically generate the code which you can copy and paste into your CSS file. Some generators also provide a live preview feature, allowing you to see the effects of your code in real-time.

Are CSS3 Code Generators reliable?

Yes, CSS3 Code Generators are reliable. They are designed to produce accurate and efficient code that adheres to the latest CSS3 standards. However, it’s always a good practice to review and understand the generated code before using it in your projects.

Can I use CSS3 Code Generators for complex projects?

While CSS3 Code Generators are excellent for generating code snippets for individual CSS properties, they might not be the best choice for complex projects that require a deep understanding of CSS concepts and principles. They are best used as a learning tool or for speeding up the coding process for simple tasks.

Are there any limitations to using CSS3 Code Generators?

While CSS3 Code Generators are incredibly useful, they do have some limitations. They might not support all CSS3 properties, and the generated code might not be optimized for performance. Also, relying solely on generators might hinder your understanding and mastery of CSS3.

How do I choose the best CSS3 Code Generator?

The best CSS3 Code Generator depends on your specific needs. Consider factors like the range of CSS properties it supports, ease of use, additional features like live preview, and whether it keeps up-to-date with the latest CSS3 standards.

Are CSS3 Code Generators free to use?

Most CSS3 Code Generators are free to use. However, some might offer premium features at a cost. Always check the terms of use before using a generator.

Can CSS3 Code Generators help me learn CSS3?

Yes, CSS3 Code Generators can be a great learning tool. They allow you to experiment with different CSS properties and see the results in real-time, which can help you understand how different properties and values affect the layout and appearance of a webpage.

Do I need any special software to use a CSS3 Code Generator?

No, most CSS3 Code Generators are web-based tools that you can use directly in your browser without the need for any special software.

Can I use the code generated by a CSS3 Code Generator in any project?

Yes, the code generated by a CSS3 Code Generator can be used in any project. However, it’s always a good practice to understand the code and make sure it fits your project’s requirements before using it.