Difference Between CSS And SCSS Advantages And Disadvantages

by | Aug 1, 2023

As web engineers, we all know that there are three main things we must have the knowledge to start building a simple website or an extensive web application. Firstly, HTML provides the basic barebones of the application. Secondly, JavaScript provides the behavior of the web pages. And lastly, my favorite, CSS provides the style and beauty of the application. CSS and SCSS help developers separate HTML files from design and formatting, making web design easier. However, there is often a debate about which one is better. This article will compare CSS and SCSS in detail to help you decide which one to use. Let’s explore the differences between CSS and SCSS.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) was proposed by Hakon Wium Lie in 1994. The purpose of CSS was to enhance the User Interface (UI) and facilitate interactions between users and applications. However, with the introduction of serverless technologies, CSS has also been transformed into a preprocessor, known as SCSS. We also have a variety of frameworks for CSS like Bootstrap, Tailwind CSS, Foundation, Bulma, and Skeleton. These frameworks provide a bunch of premade-style classes for the ease of developers to accomplish their tasks promptly.

CSS snippet

Advantages of CSS

  1. Consistency: CSS enables the creation of a consistent structure that web designers can apply to multiple pages, leading to improved working efficiency and cohesive design across the website.
  2. Ease of Use: Learning CSS is straightforward, making it user-friendly for designers to create and modify websites. All the code is contained in a single page, simplifying the process of editing and maintaining the site.
  3. Website Speed: Unlike traditional coding with multiple pages, CSS condenses the code into a more efficient format. This reduces the clutter in the website’s database, resulting in faster loading times and improved website performance.
  4. Multiple Browser Support: CSS enjoys broad compatibility with various web browsers, ensuring a consistent appearance and functionality across different platforms.
  5. Reduced Transfer Size: CSS minimizes the file transfer size, enabling quicker loading of web pages and reducing the time users can access the site’s content.
  6. Web-Page Crawl: Incorporating CSS into web pages contributes to better search engine optimization (SEO). It enables search engines to more easily identify and index the website, leading to improved visibility in search results.
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Disadvantages of CSS

  1. Multiple Versions: CSS has different versions, leading to potential compatibility issues and confusion for developers.
  2. Fragmentation: CSS may not work consistently across all web browsers, necessitating testing for compatibility across various platforms.
  3. Complications with Third-Party Tools: Using third-party tools like Microsoft FrontPage can introduce complexities in working with CSS.
  4. Lack of Inherent Security: CSS lacks built-in security features, making it susceptible to unauthorized access and modifications.
  5. Cross-Browser Issues: CSS may display differently on various browsers, requiring extra effort to ensure a consistent appearance.

SCSS (Sassy Cascading Style Sheets)

SCSS, which stands for “Sassy CSS,” is an extension of CSS designed by Chris Eppstein, Natalie Weizenbaum, and Hampton Catlin. It is commonly referred to as “Sassy CSS” due to its advanced features. SCSS serves as a preprocessor language, compiled into standard CSS before being interpreted by the browser. With its user-friendly syntax, SCSS introduces additional functionalities such as nested rules, variables, and mixins, making CSS code more efficient and maintainable. SCSS files have a “.scss” file extension, making it easy to identify and work with them.

One of the main advantages of using a component-based architecture for styling, such as in JavaScript, is that styles are rendered only if the component is visible on the screen. This feature helps optimize performance and reduces concerns about unused styles, as styles are applied on demand.

For JavaScript developers, adopting this approach can feel familiar and seamless. Writing styles in JavaScript alongside the component code become intuitive, and the overall development experience can be more consistent and streamlined.

SCSS snippet

Advantages of Using SCSS vs CSS

  1. Improved Code Organization: SCSS offers a nested syntax, allowing developers to nest CSS rules within one another. This feature helps maintain a more organized and hierarchical structure, making the code easier to read and understand.
  2. Increased Productivity: With SCSS, writing CSS becomes faster and more streamlined due to its concise syntax and powerful features. The ability to use variables, mixins, and functions reduces redundancy, resulting in less code to write and manage.
  3. Rich Functionality: SCSS provides various valuable functions, including color manipulation and mathematical operations, making it more versatile and capable of handling complex styling requirements.
  4. Reusable Values: The use of variables in SCSS allows developers to store and reuse values throughout the stylesheet. This promotes consistency and reduces the risk of errors caused by manually repeating values.
  5. CSS Compatibility: Since SCSS is a superset of CSS, it seamlessly integrates with all versions of CSS, enabling users to leverage existing CSS libraries without any compatibility issues.
  6. Inline Documentation: SCSS allows for inline documentation through comments, aiding developers in providing descriptive explanations and instructions. This fosters better team collaboration and code understanding.

Overall, SCSS offers a powerful and developer-friendly solution for managing styles in web projects. Its combination of concise syntax, nested structure, and inline documentation makes it a preferred choice for many developers seeking a more efficient and maintainable CSS workflow.

Disadvantages of SCSS 

  1. Debugging Complexity: When working with SCSS or any preprocessor, the CSS code generated after compilation may not directly correspond to the original SCSS code. This can make debugging more challenging, as it becomes harder to trace issues back to their source in the SCSS files.
  2. Knowledge Gap: While pre-processors like SCSS have gained popularity, not all developers may be familiar with them. This knowledge gap can pose a challenge for teams and may require additional training for developers who are new to working with SCSS.
  3. Large CSS Files: SCSS offers powerful features like nesting and mixins, which can lead to the generation of larger CSS files. This can impact page load times and increase the overall file size of a project.
  4. Loss of Built-in Inspector Benefits: Some browser developer tools provide excellent features for inspecting and debugging CSS directly. However, when using SCSS, the compiled CSS might be more complex, making it less straightforward to use the browser’s built-in element inspector effectively.

It’s important to note that while SCSS and other pre-processors have their drawbacks, many developers find that the benefits they provide, such as code organization, reusability, and maintainability, outweigh these disadvantages. It often comes down to the specific needs and preferences of the development team when deciding whether to use a preprocessor like SCSS or stick with plain CSS. Proper training, documentation, and best practices can help mitigate some of the challenges associated with using SCSS effectively.

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Comparison of CSS and SCSS

  1. Feature Set:
    1. CSS includes standard styling features for web pages.
    2. SCSS extends CSS and offers additional features not found in plain CSS, making it a powerful alternative for developers.
  2. File Type:
    1. CSS is a style language used to create web pages.
    2. SCSS is a type of file used in SASS, which is processed using the Ruby language to generate CSS style sheets for the browser.
  3. Advanced Features:
    1. SCSS contains advanced and enhanced features compared to plain CSS.
  4. Expressiveness and Code Length:
    1. SCSS is more expressive and concise than CSS, resulting in shorter code lines, making it easier to load.
  5. Nesting Rules:
    1. SCSS promotes proper nesting of rules, allowing classes to be written inside other classes, and improving readability in larger projects.
    2. Regular CSS does not support nesting, leading to reduced readability and styling challenges as projects grow.
  6. Multiple Stylesheets:
    1. CSS allows the use of multiple stylesheets on a single page through simple code changes, facilitating usability and customization for different devices.
    2. SCSS also supports this functionality but with the advantage of additional features like variables, nesting, and selectors.
  7. Features in Code:
    1. SCSS allows the use of variables, nesting, and selectors to enhance code modularity and reusability, while CSS lacks these capabilities.
  8. Syntax:
    1. SCSS uses an indented syntax for improved readability, unlike plain CSS.
  9. Math Operations:
    1. SCSS enables the use of operators for performing math operations, allowing simple calculations within the code for better performance.
    2. CSS does not provide native support for math operations.
  10. Customizing Bootstrap 4:
    1. Knowledge of SCSS is valuable in customizing Bootstrap 4, as it allows for more efficient and organized styles compared to using plain CSS.

CSS and SCSS Comparison Table

Release DateDecember 17, 1996August 2, 2004
Developed byWorld Wide Web Consortium (W3C)Natalie Weizenbaum, Chris Eppstein
ArchitectureSophisticatedOriented and Comprehensive
LanguageWorks in Integration with HTML and JavaScript.Based on SaasScript.
Expression SyntaxConsists of selective block and Declarative with semicolons.Eliminates blocks and uses indentation that uses a new line instead of a semicolon.
VariableDoes not allow the reuse of CSS variables and thus code needs to be rewritten.Allows reuse of variables that benefit in font slack feature.
ShareabilityOne property can be ascertained in a block of code.Sass allows to sharing of CSS properties all across the code.
NestingNesting of CSS selectors might lead to conflicts and expose pieces of code.Initiated nesting of CSS selectors with a specific hierarchical structure.
DependenceCan be used along with HTML to style and enhance web pages.It is a particular type of file for the SASS program written in the Ruby language.
Lines of CodesCSS makes extensive use of lines of codes.SCSS makes use of comparatively fewer lines in its codes.
FunctionsCSS consists of various common features, and thus, it can perform some basic functions.SCSS consists of more advanced features, and thus, it can perform more advanced functions.
FeaturesMore PopularLess Popular
UsageCommonly used to style web pages.Mostly used with the SASS program, which is written in Ruby.
File ExtensionIt uses the .css file extension.It uses the .scss file extension.
DesignIt is the styling language that is used to style and create web pages.CSS makes extensive use of lines of code.

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Tailwind CSS

Tailwind CSS is a revolutionary utility-first CSS framework that simplifies and accelerates website styling. It offers developers a comprehensive set of building blocks to craft custom user interfaces rapidly. Unlike traditional frameworks, Tailwind CSS provides the flexibility of a low-level CSS framework while still being highly customizable.

One of the core strengths of Tailwind CSS lies in its non-opinionated approach. Rather than imposing design specifications, it empowers developers to piece together small components and utilities, resulting in truly unique and personalized interfaces. With Tailwind CSS, creating bespoke designs becomes an effortless and enjoyable process.

The framework’s workflow involves taking a raw CSS file and processing it through a configuration file, producing the desired output. This streamlined process eliminates the need to fight against pre-existing styles, granting developers the freedom to shape their interfaces without constraints. 

talwindcss usage trend
Ali Safder

Ali Safder

Senior Software Engineer

Experienced Software Developer at Akvateq with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry. Skilled in UI/UX, Angular, PHP, WordPress, Shopify, Theme/Plug-in Customization, and Front-end Development. BS in Computer Science from the Federal University.

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