Thoran Thoran - 1 month ago 14
Sass (Sass) Question

How to transpile/compile sass/scss with node-sass and gulp-sass (based on libsass not Ruby)?

I was struggling with setting up libsass as it wasn't as straight-forward as the Ruby based transpiler. Could someone explain how to:

  1. install libsass?

  2. use it from command line?

  3. use it with task runners like gulp and grunt?

I have little experience with package managers and even less so with task runners.


I picked node-sass implementer for libsass because it is based on node.js.

Installing node-sass

  • (Prerequisite) If you don't have npm, install Node.js first.
  • $ npm install -g node-sass installs node-sass globally -g.

This will hopefully install all you need, if not read libsass at the bottom.

How to use node-sass from Command line

General format:

$ node-sass [options] <input.scss> [output.css] cat <input.scss> | node-sass > output.css


  1. $ node-sass my-styles.scss my-styles.css compiles a single file manually.
  2. $ node-sass my-sass-folder/ -o my-css-folder/ compiles all the files in a folder manually.
  3. $ node-sass -w sass/ -o css/ compiles all the files in a folder automatically whenever the source file(s) are modified. -w adds a watch for changes to the file(s).

More usefull options like 'compression' @ here. Command line is good for a quick solution, however, you can use task runners like Grunt.js or Gulp.js to automate the build process.

How to use with Gulp

  • $ npm install -g gulp installs Gulp globally.
  • If there is no package.json file in your project directory running $ npm init will create one. Use it with -y to skip the questions.
  • $ npm install --save-dev gulp installs Gulp locally. --save-dev adds gulp to devDependencies in package.json.
  • $ npm install gulp-sass --save-dev installs gulp-sass locally.
  • Setup gulp for your project by creating a gulpfile.js file in your project root folder with this content:
'use strict';
var gulp = require('gulp');

A basic example to transpile

Add this code to your gulpfile.js:

var sass = require('gulp-sass');
gulp.task('sass', function () {
    .pipe(sass().on('error', sass.logError))

$ gulp sass runs the above task which compiles .scss file(s) in the sass folder and generates .css file(s) in the css folder.

To make life easier, let's add a watch so we don't have to compile it manually. Add this code to your gulpfile.js:

gulp.task('sass:watch', function () {'./sass/**/*.scss', ['sass']);

All is set now! Just run the watch task:

$ gulp sass:watch

How to use with Node.js

As the name of node-sass implies, you can write your own node.js scripts for transpiling. If you are curious, check out node-sass project page.

What about libsass?

Libsass is a library that needs to be built by an implementer such as sassC or in our case node-sass. Node-sass contains a built version of libsass which it uses by default. If the build file doesn't work on your machine, it tries to build libsass for your machine. This process requires Python 2.7.x (3.x doesn't work as of today). In addition:

LibSass requires GCC 4.6+ or Clang/LLVM. If your OS is older, this version may not compile. On Windows, you need MinGW with GCC 4.6+ or VS 2013 Update 4+. It is also possible to build LibSass with Clang/LLVM on Windows.