The Best CSS Preprocessor to Use

Anyone with experience in coding CSS knows the importance of a preprocessor.  The use of a preprocessor gives developers peace of mind by allowing them to write code that is ready for future use and easily maintained.  This saves time and energy, and reduces stress. 

 

Of course, if one is just making a few simple tweaks and adjustments, a preprocessor is not needed.  But when dealing with large stylesheets and many rules of code and style, a preprocessor can save the day and improve the legibility and comprehension of the code.

 

As of now, there are two main CSS preprocessors that are very popular, and those are Sass and Less.  These two preprocessors have one basic difference: Less uses a Javascript library while Sass runs on Ruby.

 

Sass

 

Sass has been used by developers for over eight years now, and if you are working on a Mac, Ruby is already installed.  If you are a Windows user, you will have to install it before you can start working with Sass.  Once you have Sass installed, you can make use of some of its main features that include:

 

·         Functions

·         Operations

·         Import

·         Loops

·         VariablesExtend

·         Partials

·         Compass

·         Mixins

·         Nesting

 

Users of Sass have a choice of two syntaxes: Sass and SCSS.  The original Sass is still available, while SCSS is relatively new and quickly gaining in popularity.

 

Less

 

Less is easy to set up for Mac and Windows users, as all one has to do is reference its Javascript file in your document.  Less has a very strong and loyal fan base of developers as it seeks to extend the default CSS syntax by means of variables, nested style rules, and mixins.  Here are some of the main features of Less:

 

·         Nesting

·         Imports

·         Mixins

·         Operations

·         Functions

·         Loops

·         VariablesExtend

·         Merge

 

As you can see, there are only a few differences between the two, but both allow developers to write efficient code.  Both of these preprocessors are now standard in use, and they allow for code that is modular and scalable, helping to make sure larger projects do not get out of hand. 

 

Useful Tools for Both Preprocessors

 

There are also several useful tools that you can use with these two preprocessors.  CodeKit is a tool that can be used to compile Sass, Less, and other files, and it automatically reloads the browser when a file is updated.  It can also be used to optimize images for better performance.  LiveReload is another tool that can be used to monitor file changes.  It can then process them as needed and automatically reload the browser. 

 

These are just two of the many useful tools that are available for both of these preprocessors.  In most cases, deciding on which one is the best comes down to a matter of personal preference. Depending on the project requirements. one preprocessor may be more viable than the other.  There are also several newer preprocessors coming on the market, and one of those may better suit you.

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