SCSS vs. SASS: What’s the Difference?

  • 9 mins read

SCSS vs. SASS: What’s the Difference?

Are you tired of writing endless lines of CSS code and wondering which tech you should check out next: SCSS vs. SASS? These two popular preprocessors help developers write CSS code much faster than plain ol’ CSS used to allow.

SCSS is actually a superset of CSS3 syntax, which means that it offers all the features of CSS3 and much more.With SCSS, you can write less code, make fewer errors, and maintain your code much more easily. 

SASS, on the other hand, is an older preprocessor that uses a slightly different syntax than SCSS. Still, it offers many of the same features as SCSS, such as variables, nesting, inheritance, and mixins. SASS also offers some unique features, such as inline imports and optional semicolons. Using SASS can bring benefits like improved code organization and easier maintenance, just like SCSS.

But which one is better? Are they the same? And should you learn one over the other?

In this article, we’ll explore the differences and similarities between SCSS vs. SASS and the benefits of each one. Let’s get started.

What is SCSS?

SCSS (short for Sassy CSS) is a CSS preprocessor that allows you to write CSS code in a more efficient and structured way.

We already know that SCSS is a superset of CSS3 syntax, but what does that mean?

Generally speaking, it means that you can use all the standard CSS3 properties and syntax in SCSS. However, SCSS also adds some powerful features that make writing your CSS that much easier and more intuitive.

Let’s talk about the basic SCSS terminology

Variables

With SCSS, you can declare variables to store common values such as colors, font sizes, or spacing. This way, you can reuse them throughout your stylesheet, making it much easier to update them later on. 

To declare a variable in SCSS, just use the $ as the first character of the name. Set the attributes you’d like, such as a color. Then, you can call that variable at any time throughout the stylesheet.

Check it out:

$primary-color: #007bff;

$secondary-color: #6c757d;

body {

  background-color: $primary-color;

  color: $secondary-color;

}

Nesting

SCSS allows you to nest selectors inside one another, just like in HTML. This makes reading and understanding your stylesheets easier, especially if you’re dealing with complex layouts. 

Check it out:

nav {

  ul {

    list-style: none;

    li {

      display: inline-block;

    }

  }

}

Inheritance

In SCSS, you can use the @extend directive to inherit styles from other selectors. This can be useful if you want to reuse styles across different elements or components. Here’s how you can use @extend:

.button {

  padding: 10px;

  border-radius: 5px;

  background-color: #007bff;

  color: #fff;

}

.primary-button {

  @extend .button;

  font-weight: bold;

}

Mixins:

You can think of Mixins as reusable blocks of code that can be included in your stylesheets. They’re super handy if you want to apply the same styles to multiple elements or components. 

Here’s an example to elaborate:

@mixin box-shadow($x, $y, $blur, $color) {

  -webkit-box-shadow: $x $y $blur $color;

  -moz-box-shadow: $x $y $blur $color;

  box-shadow: $x $y $blur $color;

}

.card {

  @include box-shadow(0, 0, 10px, #ccc);

}

We created a mixin, in this case, “box-shadow,” and applied our attributes to it. When we need to call it, we can just write @include and the name of our mixin.

Benefits of SCSS 

  • Improved code organization and readability thanks to features like nesting, variables, inheritance, and mixins.
  • Reduced code duplication and faster development time since you can reuse styles across different elements and components.
  • Easier maintenance and updates, as changes to variables or mixins can be applied globally throughout your stylesheet.
  • Better browser compatibility and faster loading times, as SCSS can be compiled into standard CSS code that works across all modern browsers
  • Access to advanced features like conditional statements, loops, and functions can be used to create more dynamic and responsive layouts.
  • Integration with popular front-end frameworks like Bootstrap and Foundation, which use SCSS as their default stylesheet language.
  • Increased collaboration and code sharing, as SCSS code can be easily shared and reused across different projects and team members.

What is SASS?

Now let’s move on to SASS, also known as Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets. There’s a reason it has AWESOME in its name. It’s another CSS preprocessor that’s very similar to SCSS but with a slightly different syntax. SASS was actually the first CSS preprocessor to gain widespread popularity and, despite its age, is still widely used today.

Like SCSS, SASS allows you to write CSS code in a cleaner and more structured way, with features like variables, nesting, inheritance, and mixins. However, SASS uses a more concise syntax, with significant whitespace and indentation to indicate nesting levels, rather than curly braces and semicolons.

Let’s discuss the basic SASS terminology

You’ll find everything is the same… but different. Let me show you what I mean.

Variables

Just like in SCSS, you can declare variables in SASS to store common values such as colors, font sizes, or spacing. Here’s an example:

$primary-color: #007bff;

$secondary-color: #6c757d;

body

  background-color: $primary-color

  color: $secondary-color

Pretty similar so far, right?

Nesting

The first noticeable difference in syntax is how SASS handles nesting. SASS uses indentation to indicate nesting levels, making reading and understanding your stylesheets easier. Here’s an example:

nav

  ul

    list-style: none

    li

      display: inline-block

Inheritance:

 SASS also supports inheritance, using the @extend directive just like in SCSS. Here’s an example:

.button

  padding: 10px

  border-radius: 5px

  background-color: #007bff

  color: #fff

.primary-button

  @extend .button

  font-weight: bold

Mixins: 

Mixins work the same way in SASS as in SCSS, allowing you to create reusable code blocks. Here’s an example:

=box-shadow($x, $y, $blur, $color)

  -webkit-box-shadow: $x $y $blur $color

  -moz-box-shadow: $x $y $blur $color

  box-shadow: $x $y $blur $color

.card

  +box-shadow(0, 0, 10px, #ccc)

So, what are the benefits of using SASS? Here are some of the key advantages:

Benefits of SASS

  • SASS’s whitespace and indentation-based syntax make code more concise and readable.
  • Increased code reusability and maintainability using features like variables, nesting, inheritance, and mixins.
  • Improved workflow and development speed, with the ability to write CSS code more quickly and efficiently.
  • Better organization and structure for your stylesheets, especially for larger or more complex projects.
  • Access to advanced features like functions, loops, and conditional statements can be used to create more dynamic and responsive layouts.
  • Integration with popular front-end frameworks like Compass and Bourbon uses SASS as their default stylesheet language.

SCSS VS SASS Difference

While SASS and SCSS are both CSS preprocessors that offer similar benefits, there are some key differences between the two. Here’s a closer look at how they compare:

Syntax

The most obvious difference between SCSS vs. SASS is their syntax. SASS uses significant whitespace and indentation to indicate nesting levels, while SCSS uses curly braces and semicolons, similar to standard CSS syntax. Here’s an example of each:

SASS:

nav

  ul

    list-style: none

    li

      display: inline-block

SCSS:

nav {

  ul {

    list-style: none;

    li {

      display: inline-block;

    }

  }

}

Compatibility 

SCSS is a newer syntax designed to be more compatible with standard CSS, so it’s often easier to integrate with existing projects or tools. On the other hand, SASS has been around longer and may be preferred by developers who are used to its classic syntax.

Learning curve

Because of its significant whitespace syntax, SASS may be more difficult to learn and read at first, especially for developers used to curly braces and semicolons. However, some developers prefer the more concise and readable syntax once they get used to it.

File extensions

So yes, an obvious yet important difference between them is that SASS files traditionally use a “.sass” extension, while SCSS files use a “.scss” extension. However, many tools and frameworks support both file extensions, so this may be a minor factor.

Mixin syntax 

Another minor difference between SASS and SCSS is their syntax for defining and using mixins. In SASS, you use the “+” symbol to define a mixin, and you can call it with or without parentheses. In SCSS, you use the “@” symbol to define a mixin, and you must call it with parentheses. Here are examples of each:

SASS:

=box-shadow($x, $y, $blur, $color)

  -webkit-box-shadow: $x $y $blur $color

  -moz-box-shadow: $x $y $blur $color

  box-shadow: $x $y $blur $color

.card

  +box-shadow(0, 0, 10px, #ccc)

SCSS:

@mixin box-shadow($x, $y, $blur, $color) {

  -webkit-box-shadow: $x $y $blur $color;

  -moz-box-shadow: $x $y $blur $color;

  box-shadow: $x $y $blur $color;

}

.card {

  @include box-shadow(0, 0, 10px, #ccc);

}

FAQS

Q: What’s the difference between SASS and SCSS?

A: The main difference is their syntax. SASS uses significant whitespace and indentation, while SCSS uses curly braces and semicolons, similar to standard CSS syntax. SASS has been around longer and may be preferred by developers who are used to its syntax, while SCSS is designed to be more compatible with standard CSS and is often easier to integrate with existing projects or tools.

Q: Why should I use SCSS vs. SASS instead of standard CSS?

A: SASS and SCSS offer several benefits over standard CSS. They allow you to write more efficient and reusable code using variables, mixins, and functions. They also provide nesting and inheritance, which can help you write cleaner and more organized code. Additionally, they offer advanced features like loops and conditionals, which can help you write more complex stylesheets with less code.

Q: Can I use SASS or SCSS with my existing CSS code?

A: You can use SASS or SCSS with your existing CSS code. You can convert your CSS files to SASS or SCSS or use the “@import” directive to include your CSS files in your SASS or SCSS code. Remember that if you convert your CSS files to SASS or SCSS, you must update any references to those files in your HTML code.