Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: APM Blog, Stackify Blog, XebiaLabs Blog, Liz McMillan, William Schmarzo

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
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things’). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing? IoT is not about the devices, it’s about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. In his session at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo | DXWor...