Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets

Stephen Yagielowicz

According to its promoters, Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets or “Sass” for short (www.sass-lang.com), is “style with attitude” that makes CSS fun again. Sass extends CSS3 by adding nested rules, mixins, selector inheritance, variables and other features, combining them into CSS using the command line tool or a web-framework plugin.

This, for example, allows users to specify a color once, rather than repeated across all of its intended elements; or to more efficiently handle vendor-prefixes.

For adult website operators outsourcing coding to multiple programmers, designers and coders, sticking to the basics, rather than getting too clever, may be the best bet.

Using the extension “.sass,” these indented syntax files will continue to be supported, but are no longer the primary syntax; having been replaced by SCSS, or “Sassy CSS,” which is a superset of CSS3’s syntax. These files use a “.scss” extension and are more similar in appearance to traditional CSS, so valid CSS3 is also valid SCSS.

In practice, Sass can eliminate much of the redundancy found in many complicated style sheets, while providing enhanced functionality that is not part of the CSS standard.

Some experts feel that any performance benefits are negligible at best and that these tools are more akin to offering coders a choice of how they work; not unlike the option to view black text against a white background, or white text against a black background — with no other change in the text itself — it’s just a fashion thing.

Casual users, on the other hand, could find that Sass adds an additional layer of complexity to simple projects. Sass is also written in Ruby, requiring this software on the user’s computer in order to function. OS X users will already have it, but Windows users will need the RubyInstaller (www.rubyinstaller.org/downloads/).

Although all webmasters appreciate clean, readable and well-formatted code, what is important is having standards-compliance, where W3C valid HTML and CSS is the goal: tools that help operators achieve this are a plus, but fancy new tools alone are not enough.

For adult website operators outsourcing coding to multiple programmers, designers and coders, sticking to the basics, rather than getting too clever, may be the best bet.

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