Welcome!

Mobile IoT Authors: Liz McMillan, Kevin Benedict, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @DevOpsSummit, Java IoT, Mobile IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing

@DevOpsSummit: Blog Post

Which CSS Preprocessor Should You Choose? | @DevOpsSummit [#DevOps]

We will focus on the two most commonly used in the industry: Sass and LESS

Which CSS Preprocessor Should You Choose?

With the growing number of CSS Preprocessors like LESSSassTurbineStylus andSwith CSS to name a few, it's hard to decide which to choose for your project, and which will provide the best CSS authoring.

Rather than focus on evaluating every CSS Preprocessor (that would simply take too long), we will focus on the two most commonly used in the industry:

Sass and LESS. We will provide a comparison on important deciding factors, like installation, features, and similarities & differences, to help you decide which is the best choice.

choosing a css preprocessor

Before we begin comparing... If you don't know much about CSS Preprocessors, I would recommend you first read this article: Ten Reasons You Should be Using a CSS Preprocessor to understand how they can make your life easier.

Which CSS Preprocessor should you choose

Installation
Let's start with the first fundamental step, installation. Both Sass and LESS are built upon different platforms, Sass runs on Ruby while LESS uses a JavaScript library.

Installing Sass: Sass needs Ruby installed to work. This comes pre-installed with Mac, but in Windows you'll need to install before you can start playing with Sass. Further, Sass needs to be installed through the Terminal or Command Prompt.

There are several GUI applications you can use in place of the terminal, like (Scout,compass.app)

To install Sass on the command line, run:

$ gem install sass

Or with npm (node package manger):

$ npm install sass

To run Sass from the command line:

$ sass input.scss output.css

Installing LESS: LESS is built on JavaScript, so installation is as easy as linking JavaScript library to your HTML document. There also are a few GUI applications to help compile LESS to CSS, most of which are free and perform very well (e.g. CRUNCHWinLess andLESS.app).

Alternatively, an easy way to install LESS on the server is with npm (node package manager), like this:

$ npm install -g less

To start the compiler from the command line:

$ lessc styles.less

Then, to run LESS from the command line, you can run:

$ lessc styles.less > styles.css

For a more comprehensive list of tools to compile LESS and Sass, look here, it covers a mix of both free and paid apps. There is a handy list of tools to make life a little easier when starting out with LESS or Sass, (25 Essential Sass and Less Tools).

Features
Here are the main features of Sass and LESS:

Sass

Less

VariablesExtend

 

Mixins

Nesting

Import

Operations

Functions

Loops

Partials

Compass

 

VariablesExtend

 

Mixins

Nesting

Import

Operations

Functions

Loops

Merge

Similarities and Differences
You can see from the features list above, the difference between Sass and LESS is not huge. Both offer a good range of options to help you write smart and efficient code.

The major differences between LESS and Sass are Variables, Inheritance, Looping Logic and Compass.

Let me explain further.

Variables
Variables are used to pre-assigned values (like colors, margins, padding, etc.) anywhere in your stylesheet. This enables quicker access, but is repetitive to implement, and more importantly, update.

If you use a variable you only have to update in one place.

In LESS, variable names are prefaced with the @ symbol. In Sass, variable names are prefaced with the $ symbol. In both, the value is closed with a semicolon, which is typical for CSS.

Example:

@myLessColor: #ff0087;p {color: @myLessColor;}__________________________$mySassColor: #ff0087;p {color: $mySassColor;}

The only issue in this example is Less's use of the @ symbol.

The @ symbol already has assigned meaning in standard CSS, whereas the $ does not.

This can be confusing for beginners unfamiliar with the standards of the language yet.

Mixins, Inheritance & Extend
Mixins in Sass and LESS are defined a bit differently. In Sass we use the @mixin directive while in LESS we define it with class selector.

Here is an example:

Sass/Scss

@mixin border-radius ($values) {border-radius: $values;
}
nav {
margin: 40px auto 0;
width: 760px;
height: 35px;
@include border-radius(5px);
}

LESS

.border(@radius) {
border-radius: @radius;
}
nav {
margin: 40px auto 0;
width: 760px;
height: 35px;
.border(5px);
}

Mixins in Sass and LESS are used to include properties from one ruleset to another. In Sass, this method is taken further with Selector Inheritance. The concept is identical, but instead of copying the whole property, Sass will extend or group selectors that have identical properties and values using the @extend directive.

Sass/Scss

.module {
padding: 10px;
h3 {
color: red;
}
}.news {
@extend .module;
}

Sass/Scss

.module {
padding: 10px;
h3 {
color: red;
}
}.news {
@extend .module;
}

Logic Statements
In LESS you can write a basic logic statement using a ‘guarded mixin' like this:

.boxcolor(@colour) when (lightness(@colour) > 40%) {
color: @colour;
background-color: #000;
.box-shadow(0 3px 4px #ddd);
}
.boxcolor(@colour) when (lightness(@colour) < 41%) {
color: @colour;
background-color: #fff;
.box-shadow(0 1px 1px rgba(0,0,0,0.3));
}

The equivalent in Sass, using if statements would be:

@mixin boxcolor($colour) {
color: $colour;
@if(lightness($colour) > 40%) {
background-color: #000;
@include box-shadow(0 3px 4px #ddd);
}
@if(lightness($colour) <= 40%) {
background-color: #fff;
@include box-shadow(0 1px 1px rgba(#000,0.3));
}
}

Compass
Both Sass and LESS have extensions for faster and easier web development.

Sass: has Compass on it's side, which contains a plethora of Mixins to write CSS3 syntax in less time. Compass extends way beyond just CSS3 Mixins. It has added other useful features like HelpersLayoutTypographyReset and even Sprite Images. It also has config.rb file where you can control the CSS output and other utilities.

It is an extremely useful all-in-one package for web development with Sass.

LESS: LESS also has several extensions, but unlike Compass (which has everything in one place), they are separated. Each extension is built by different group of developers. This won't cause problems for seasoned users, but could be troublesome for those starting out.

Here are a few LESS extensions that you might need to include in your project:

Conclusion
The CSS Preprocessor you choose - Less or Sass - is determined by personal preference.

Depending on the nuances most important to your project, choose the preprocessor that seems best. My personal choice is Sass, simply because of compass and the @ symbol in LESS always bother me. But, I would highly recommend you try both out and decide for yourself.

You can download Less here and download Sass here.

Also, for a more in-depth comparison of the 2 languages, here is some further suggested reading.

More Stories By Trevor Parsons

Trevor Parsons is Chief Scientist and Co-founder of Logentries. Trevor has over 10 years experience in enterprise software and, in particular, has specialized in developing enterprise monitoring and performance tools for distributed systems. He is also a research fellow at the Performance Engineering Lab Research Group and was formerly a Scientist at the IBM Center for Advanced Studies. Trevor holds a PhD from University College Dublin, Ireland.

@ThingsExpo Stories
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world.
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smart...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICC-USA, a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of ...
Michael Maximilien, better known as max or Dr. Max, is a computer scientist with IBM. At IBM Research Triangle Park, he was a principal engineer for the worldwide industry point-of-sale standard: JavaPOS. At IBM Research, some highlights include pioneering research on semantic Web services, mashups, and cloud computing, and platform-as-a-service. He joined the IBM Cloud Labs in 2014 and works closely with Pivotal Inc., to help make the Cloud Found the best PaaS.
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Founded in 2000, Chetu Inc. is a global provider of customized software development solutions and IT staff augmentation services for software technology providers. By providing clients with unparalleled niche technology expertise and industry experience, Chetu has become the premiere long-term, back-end software development partner for start-ups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies. Chetu is headquartered in Plantation, Florida, with thirteen offices throughout the U.S. and abroad.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
From 2013, NTT Communications has been providing cPaaS service, SkyWay. Its customer’s expectations for leveraging WebRTC technology are not only typical real-time communication use cases such as Web conference, remote education, but also IoT use cases such as remote camera monitoring, smart-glass, and robotic. Because of this, NTT Communications has numerous IoT business use-cases that its customers are developing on top of PaaS. WebRTC will lead IoT businesses to be more innovative and address...
Rodrigo Coutinho is part of OutSystems' founders' team and currently the Head of Product Design. He provides a cross-functional role where he supports Product Management in defining the positioning and direction of the Agile Platform, while at the same time promoting model-based development and new techniques to deliver applications in the cloud.
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to maximize project result...
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abilit...
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settl...