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Leaner Style Sheets (LESS) and Syntactically Awesome Stylesheets (SASS) are CSS preprocessors used to extend the stylesheet language’s functionality.

While both preprocessors have a similar purpose, SASS is constructed based on the Ruby programming language, while LESS uses JavaScript which is a scripting language. 

Therefore, you can opt for one or the other based on your preferred programming language or operating system.

What is a CSS preprocessor?

CSS preprocessors are extension languages that increase the capabilities of CSS.

There are a variety of CSS preprocessors out there. However, the most common and stable ones are LESS and SASS.

Each preprocessor library, which you can use by importing it to your CSS code. That way, browsers can render extra features along with the files and resources that make up a website.

What benefits do CSS preprocessors have?

Creating simple websites can be done easily with basic CSS. For larger, more complex projects, using CSS preprocessors helps improve your workflow.

Here are the benefits of using CSS preprocessors:

  • Write cleaner code ‒ you can define variables and add mixins to the style sheets, avoiding repetitions and keeping the code organized for faster compiling
  • Build reusable libraries ‒ store pre-made frameworks and functions for future reuse, making for a better-organized code structure
  • Combine multiple files ‒ you only need to import the main files to the site, while the rest will be read from the server  

What is SASS CSS?

SASS is a CSS preprocessor that uses indented syntax and line breaks. The code is written in .sass files.

Its superset version, SCSS (“Sassy CSS”), adopts basic CSS rules. 

While it is not as practical and foolproof as its predecessor, users who are familiar with CSS can switch between both languages much more easily. Files written in SCSS use the .scss extension.

What is LESS CSS?

Structure-wise, LESS’ syntax resembles CSS and SCSS. Developed three years after SASS, it provides similar features to its inspiration, such as variables, mixins, and functions.

Since Less is built based on JavaScript, you need to install it on the server using Node.js. However, due to its similarities to basic CSS, you can add files with .less extension directly to the HTML file’s <head> section. 

Advantages of SASS over LESS

Both SASS and LESS provide similar functionality in terms of expanding basic CSS’ capabilities. Despite so, each preprocessor has its own set of rules that may be easier to use for some users.

Here are some of the areas where SASS outshines LESS:  

  • Syntax — since basic CSS uses @ for media queries, SASS’ use of $ to define variables make the code less confusing 
  • Rules — SASS users can use either indented syntax or SCSS for quicker adaptation
  • Inheritance — SASS’ ability to inherit styles from another selector makes its code leaner and easier to organize

Operations — on top of being able to do proper logic and loop functions, SASS also lets you use math operators like *, +, -, and /

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Matleena is a seasoned eCommerce writer, with a particular interest in emerging digital marketing trends, dropshipping, and growth hacking. She’s addicted to coming up with new eCommerce business ideas and making them a reality; she deserves her nickname of ‘print on demand business mogul.' In her free time, she enjoys cups of good coffee, tends to her balcony garden, and studies Japanese.

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