I thought I was about the last web designer in the world who didn’t use a pre-processor for writing my CSS. Turns out I’m not but it’s something I need to try.
I asked on Twitter which one I *should use* and opinion was pretty divided between Sass and Less. For the most part, Sass looks like the one for me and potentially on a bigger scale, our little team at Offroadcode. After asking which one I should use (try asking on Twitter, it’s fascinating seeing the strength of recommendations!), I got about a 50/50 split but one theme kept cropping up – Sass probably offered “more” even though it was a little more developer focused.
As my workflow changes from project to project, I refine and tweak my technique all the time, applying things I’ve learnt from experience and techniques people share in their blogs and on Twitter. The one thing I’ve never felt I’m really missing out is changing my workflow to include using a pre-processor. I’m happy with how I write my CSS for the most part, I don’t repeat myself (much) even on bigger builds, I don’t build up massive strings of class names and ID’s and I’m careful to comment and format my stylesheets so they’re easy to read and update when I need to. It’s always seemed a reasonably easy way to work.
However, after the initial flood of responses saying Sass or Less is the pre-processor for me, several answers trickled in from people saying they’re not entirely sure about using preprocessors and that are some potential downsides. Lea’s article isn’t the first I’ve read highlighting these points and it elaborates on a few concerns of mine that have always stopped me using one. However, as with Lea’s article, all of the articles I’ve read about not using a pre-processor, there’s a common theme.
Negatives seem to come from non users
They’re all apparently written by someone who hasn’t used one on a project and is just referring to problems based on theory, not examining whether the unquestioned few problems are outweighed by positives.
There are literally thousands of designers I see at all levels who have made the switch to one system or the other and many who I consider experts in their roles, people like Nathan Smith & Chris Coyier (not to mention the many who I follow/follow me) that praise the improvements and efficiency they get from using Sass or Less and few who have used one of the systems on a project and gone back to vanilla CSS. That’s not to say there aren’t, I’ve seen those articles too but on the whole, the number of supporters I know of outweighs the number of doubters by some stretch.
There’s seemingly never a convenient time to try something like this on a test basis so on monday, I’m going to give Sass a go on a work project we’ve got. Luckily, it’s one of two projects rebuilding practically the same version of sites so I’m going to build one with Sass and one without and see how it stacks up. I’m still a bit of a doubter but I’d like to either be a doubter who’s actually tried preprocessing on a live project rather than just in theory or a convert.
I don’t mind which because I’ll win no matter what the outcome is.