Tue Aug 22 2023

SCSS vs CSS: Understanding the Differences

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SCSS vs CSS: Understanding the Differences

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and SCSS (Sassy CSS) are both essential tools in the world of web development, used to style and design web pages. While they share similarities, they also have distinct features that cater to different needs and workflows. In this article, we'll explore the differences between CSS and SCSS, their advantages, and when to choose one over the other.

CSS: The Standard Styling Language

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a style sheet language used for describing the presentation of a document written in a markup language like HTML. CSS is a cornerstone technology of the World Wide Web, alongside HTML and JavaScript. It's a simple mechanism for adding style (e.g., fonts, colors, spacing) to Web documents.

CSS was first proposed by Håkon Wium Lie on October 10, 1994. And the first W3C CSS Recommendation (CSS1) being released in 1996. It's designed to enable the separation of presentation and content, including layout, colors, and fonts. This separation can improve content accessibility, provide more flexibility and control in the specification of presentation characteristics, enable multiple web pages to share formatting by specifying the relevant CSS in a separate .css file and reduce complexity and repetition in the structural content. The CSS specifications are maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). CSS has a simple syntax and uses a number of English keywords to specify the names of various style properties. A style sheet consists of a list of rules. Each rule or rule-set consists of one or more selectors and a declaration block.

Advantages of CSS

  1. Simplicity: CSS is straightforward and doesn't require any additional setup or compilation process. You write your styles directly in the CSS files.
  2. Browser Compatibility: Since CSS is a standard web technology, it's supported by all browsers without needing any preprocessing.
  3. Performance: Plain CSS files are generally smaller in size, which can lead to faster loading times for your web pages.

Limitations of CSS

  1. Reusability: Reusing styles can become complex as your project grows, leading to code duplication and maintenance challenges.
  2. Nesting: CSS lacks the ability to nest styles, which can lead to selectors becoming overly specific and harder to manage.

SCSS: The Power of Preprocessing

SCSS stands for Sassy Cascading Style Sheets. SCSS is an extension of CSS that introduces more advanced features and a more flexible syntax. It's part of the larger Sass (Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets) ecosystem. SCSS can be separated by a semicolon and run on the same line. SCSS is a preprocessor which lets you use features that aren’t a part of the wider CSS standard yet, and provides better workflows for maintaining your stylesheets. With SCSS preprocessor, you can reduce the number of times you repeat yourself and ensure you’re writing clean, maintainable code for the future. SCSS can take CSS code and work. SCSS is fully compatible with the syntax of CSS, while still supporting the full power of Sass.

Advantages of SCSS

  1. Nesting: SCSS allows for nesting styles, which makes your code more organized and easier to read.
  2. Variables: SCSS introduces the concept of variables, enabling you to define reusable values for colors, fonts, and more.
  3. Mixins and Functions: These powerful tools in SCSS allow you to create reusable pieces of code, reducing redundancy.
  4. Imports: SCSS enables you to split your styles into smaller, manageable files and import them where needed.

Differences between CSS and SCSS

  • CSS is the styling language that your browser understands and uses to style web pages, whereas SCSS is a special type of file for SASS a program written in Ruby that assembles CSS style sheets for a browser.

  • SCSS helps you write your CSS codes much easier.

  • SCSS files are processed by the server running a web app to output a traditional CSS that your browser can understand.

  • CSS facilitates the publication of content in multiple presentation formats based on nominal parameters.

  • SCSS is an extension of the syntax of CSS. That means that every valid CSS stylesheet is a valid SCSS file with the same meaning.

  • When CSS is used effectively, in terms of inheritance and "cascading", a global style sheet can be used to affect and style elements site-wide.

  • SCSS understands most CSS hacks and vendor-specific syntax, such as IE's old filter syntax. This syntax is enhanced with the Sass features. Files using this syntax have the .scss extension.

  • SCSS dry (don't repeat yourself) code is much better than wet code (write every time).

  • SCSS is developed on ruby on rails.

  • CSS helps web developers create a uniform look across several pages of a website.

  • In CSS, with a simple change of one line, a different style sheet can be used for the same page. This has advantages for accessibility, as well as providing the ability to tailor a page or site to different target devices.

  • It is irritating to manage child and parents selectors in CSS.

  • You may face an issue in CSS if you wish to change the complete color theme of the website. Because you have to change each and every color properties of selectors.

  • You can create variables in SCSS.

  • SCSS gets processed into CSS because our browsers just understand the CSS.

  • SCSS helps you to split your CSS into smaller, more maintainable portions.

  • SCSS mixin lets you make groups of CSS declarations that you want to reuse throughout your site.

  • SCSS let you do math in CSS easily.

  • CSS makes it easy to change styles across several pages at once.

  • CSS was written to style the HTML pages which grows more and more in the line of codes if the .html pages increases.

  • SCSS program written in Ruby that assembles CSS style sheets for a browser.

  • CSS is the styling language that your browser understands and uses to style web pages. SCSS is a special type of file.

When to Choose CSS

  • For smaller projects or simple web pages where the additional features of SCSS aren't necessary.
  • When you prioritize minimal setup and prefer working with the standard CSS syntax.

When to Choose SCSS

  • For larger, more complex projects where organization and maintainability are crucial.
  • When you want to take advantage of features like nesting, variables, mixins, and functions.
  • When you're comfortable with the preprocessing step in your development workflow.


CSS and SCSS serve different purposes in web development. CSS is the standard styling language that's quick to implement, while SCSS provides advanced features that enhance code organization and reusability. The choice between CSS and SCSS depends on the scope of your project, your familiarity with preprocessing, and your preference for a streamlined or feature-rich styling approach. Ultimately, both CSS and SCSS have their place in the web development landscape, allowing you to create visually appealing and functional web pages with different levels of complexity and efficiency.

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