What's the difference between SCSS and Sass?

question front-end css
Ram Patra Published on January 3, 2024

Sass (Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets) and SCSS (Sassy CSS) are both preprocessors that extend the capabilities of standard CSS, allowing for variables, nested rules, mixins, and more. However, there’s a common misunderstanding about the differences between Sass and SCSS. They are not actually two different languages; rather, they are two different syntaxes for the same Sass preprocessor.

Here are the key differences:

  1. Syntax Style:

    • Sass: Uses an indentation-based syntax (similar to Python). It doesn’t use braces {} or semicolons ;, relying on the indentation level to specify blocks.
    • SCSS: Uses a syntax that is more similar to traditional CSS. It uses braces and semicolons, making it easier for those familiar with CSS to adapt.
  2. File Extensions:

    • Sass: Files have the .sass extension.
    • SCSS: Files use the .scss extension.
  3. Compatibility with CSS:

    • Sass: Being indentation-based, it’s not directly compatible with CSS syntax. Existing CSS code must be rewritten to match the Sass syntax.
    • SCSS: Fully compatible with CSS. This means that any valid CSS is also valid SCSS, allowing for easier integration with existing CSS files.
  4. Ease of Learning and Use:

    • Sass: Might be more streamlined due to its concise syntax but could be challenging for those used to CSS-like syntax.
    • SCSS: Tends to be easier to learn for those already familiar with CSS, as it mirrors CSS syntax closely.

In terms of features and functionality (like variables, mixins, functions, inheritance, etc.), both Sass and SCSS are equivalent. The difference lies purely in their style of syntax. Over time, SCSS has become more popular and widely adopted, primarily because of its similarity to traditional CSS, which reduces the learning curve and simplifies the transition from plain CSS.

All modern versions of Sass compile both .sass and .scss files, and there are no features available in one syntax that are not available in the other.

Ram Patra Published on January 3, 2024
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