CSS Language: SASS vs {LESS} vs xCSS


My take is {LESS}. That’s the short answer.

Kind of longer (and boring) answer:

There is only slight difference between the two. The biggest challenge is syntax learning curve, everything else (IDE plugins, features, requirements, etc) is much or less the same.

One consideration is how heavy will we (or the consultants) use the framework? When used heavily, syntax and language can be complicated and hairy, hard to understand. New comers will have significant learning curve. However, either way with SASS or LESS, we will have the learning curve.

I want to say we should go with framework that we most comfortable to develop with. At the end of the day, we use this framework to deliver product, so the more we comfortable with the framework, the more we can beautify the site and deliver product. This also true for consultants we hire to do the UX piece. But, consultants leave us with their code which bring us to maintainability subject. And the question for that is: which one we are more comfortable to maintain?

But what makes me really pick LESS is not because I am more comfortable with them. Instead, it’s more because of the community support (and usage for that matter) for this particular framework. SASS used to have more active development but lately LESS has taken the spot despite being newer that SASS. Community’s acceptance and implementation of LESS is also increasing rapidly as shown in StackOverflow.com’s tags counts and BuiltWith usage statistic. Not only this means LESS is gaining momentum, but also support level that we can expect outside of official documentation.






Age Oldest (v 3.2.5 as of this writing) Newer (v 1.3.3 as of this writing) Newest (v 1.0.1 as of this writing)
Active Development Open Issue 5/16/12: 84

Open Issue 1/12/13: 83

Pending pull request 5/16/12: 3

Pending pull request 1/12/13: 7

Commits count 5/16/12: 35

Commits count 1/12/13: 14

Open Issue 5/16/12: 392

Open Issue 1/12/13: 112

Pending pull request 5/16/12: 86

Pending pull request 1/12/13: 10

Commits count 5/16/12: 11

Commits count 1/12/13: 84

Requirements Ruby

Each rule in one line (SASS syntax)

Proper indentation (SASS syntax)


Compiler PHP-enabled server
Documentation Online – Excellent

SO: 1431 tags

Online – Good

SO: 1260 tags

Online – Good

SO: 0 tag

Key Features Inheritance

Nested rules


Mixins (set of styles in a variable)

Function and operation

File ‘includes’


Nested selectors



Math operations

File ‘includes’


Interpolation (string & selector)



Nested selectors


Math operations

File ‘includes’

Language Type Compile Compile

Run-time compile (with JavaScript)

Run-time compile
Pro Support 2 syntax (SCSS – CSS-like syntax and SASS – Ruby-powered) Syntax matches CSS convention

Usage is common

Cons SASS syntax is learning curve (contrast to CSS convention)   Tedious and quirky setup

Variables definitions decrease readability


Some sources and links

Comprehensive comparison: http://css-tricks.com/sass-vs-less/
BuiltWith {less} Counts: http://trends.builtwith.com/websitelist/LESS
BuiltWith {less} Trends: http://trends.builtwith.com/javascript/LESS


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