Feature Watch: CSS Imports and CSS Compatibility

Posted 13 August 2018 by Natalie Weizenbaum

Dart Sass 1.11 has just been released, and with it a handful of new features. This is an exciting moment, because it marks the first major new feature that’s been added to the language since Dart Sass was launched. It’s also the first release with features that have gone through the new process, from proposal to tests to implementation.

CSS ImportsCSS Imports permalink

The biggest feature in Dart Sass 1.11 is support for importing plain CSS files. This is a long-awaited feature, and while we’d initially planned on waiting on it until we launched the upcoming module system, we ended up deciding to implement it earlier.

You can now import a CSS file, say styles.css, just by writing @import "styles". That file will be parsed as plain CSS, which means that any Sass features like variables or mixins or interpolation will be disallowed. The CSS it defines will become part of your stylesheet, and can be @extended just like any other styles.

There are a couple caveats: because SCSS is a superset of plain CSS, it will still compile @import "styles.css" (with an explicit extension) to a CSS @import rule. If you want to import a CSS file into your Sass compilation, you must omit the extension.

Also, this feature isn’t fully implemented in LibSass yet. It still has its old behavior, where it imports CSS files but parses them as SCSS, with all the extra Sass features allowed. This behavior will be deprecated soon, and eventually it will produce errors for anything other than plain CSS, just like Dart Sass does today.

CSS min() and max()CSS min() and max() permalink

Dart Sass 1.11 also adds support for CSS’s min() and max() mathematical functions. For those unfamiliar, these functions work a lot like calc(), except they return the minimum or maximum of a series of values. For example, you can write width: max(50%, 100px) to make your element either 50% of the parent’s width or 100px wide, whichever is greater.

Because Sass has its own functions named min() and max(), it was difficult to use these CSS functions… until now. Dart Sass 1.11 will intelligently decide whether to use the plain CSS functions or the built-in Sass functions based on whether or not you’re passing in dynamic Sass values. For example:

  • The Sass function will be called if you pass a variable, like max($width, 100px).
  • The Sass function will be called if you call another Sass function, like max(compute-width(), 100px).
  • It will compile to a plain CSS function if you just use plain CSS numbers, like max(50% + 10px, 100px).
  • It will still compile to a plain CSS function even if you use interpolation, like max(50% + #{$width / 2}, #{$width}).

This preserves backwards-compatibility with existing uses of the Sass functions, while also users to use the CSS functions the same way they would in plain CSS.

This feature isn’t yet implemented in LibSass or Ruby Sass.

Range-Format Media QueriesRange-Format Media Queries permalink

CSS Media Queries Level 4 defines a range syntax for defining certain media queries:

@media (width > 500px) {
  /* ... */

Dart Sass 1.11 adds support for this syntax. It works just like existing media query support: you can either use interpolation or plain Sass expressions to inject Sass logic into the query, and they can still be nested.

@media (width > $width) {
  @media (height < #{$height}) {
    /* ... */

This feature isn’t yet implemented in LibSass or Ruby Sass.

Normalized Identifier EscapesNormalized Identifier Escapes permalink

The last compatibility improvement is a bit of an edge case, but it’s still worth mentioning: the way Sass parses escapes in identifiers has been improved to better match the CSS spec.

Escapes are now normalized to a standard format, which means that (for example) éclair and \E9clair are parsed to the same value (in this case, éclair). Prior to this change, if an escape was written, it would always be preserved as-is, so str-length(\E9clair) would return 8 even though that identifier means exactly the same thing to CSS as éclair.

We don’t anticipate this affecting many users, but we always strive to bring Sass as close to the semantics of CSS as possible. This is a small but important step on that path.

This feature isn’t yet implemented in LibSass or Ruby Sass.