Article : A Simple Gulp’y Workflow For Sass

Extract from SitePoint Article “A Simple Gulp’y Workflow For Sass” by Hugo Giraudel

I have recently been in charge of optimizing the Sass side of quite a big Rails project, and one of most important things to do was to improve the compilation time. Because of the Sass architecture in place and the fact that Ruby Sass (through the Rails asset pipeline in this case) tends to be slow when dealing with a huge number of files, it could take up to 40 seconds to compile the stylesheets. Talk about a fast development process. :slight_smile:

My idea was to move away from the asset pipeline and embrace the speed of LibSass. To make things easier I decided to go with a simple Gulp workflow. It was the first time I would be using Gulp, and I must say it was quite an enjoyable experience (which was not the case for Grunt as far as I am concerned).

In this short article, let’s just have a quick tour on how to set up a Gulp’y workflow to work with Sass. Here is what we will include:

  • Unsurprisingly, Sass compilation with LibSass
  • Generating sourcemaps for easier debugging
  • Prefixing CSS with Autoprefixer
  • Generating Sass documentation with SassDoc

Compiling Sass

The first thing to do is to install the dependencies and to create a Gulpfile.js. We will need Gulp (no shit, Sherlock), but also gulp-sass to compile our stylesheets:

$ npm install gulp gulp-sass --save-dev

This line tells npm to install both gulp and gulp-sass packages as development dependencies. You can now find them in the devDependencies object of your package.json. And the Gulpfile.js:

var gulp = require('gulp');
var sass = require('gulp-sass');

Wow, that was short. What we need now is a task to run Sass (actually gulp-sass) on our stylesheets folder.

var input = ‘./stylesheets/**/*.scss’;
var output = ‘./public/css’;

gulp.task('sass', function () {
  return gulp
    // Find all `.scss` files from the `stylesheets/` folder
    // Run Sass on those files
    // Write the resulting CSS in the output folder

That’s it! We can now compile our stylesheets using LibSass thanks to a very minimal Gulp task. What about that? We can pass options to gulp-sass to compile stylesheets in expanded mode and to print errors in console:

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