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My name is Jean-Baptiste Jung and I’m a 29 years old web developer and professional blogger. I was born and raised in Paris, France and I now live in Belgium with my wife and our adorable cat. I first used the internet in 1998, built my first website in 2001 and finally started to work as a professional web developer in 2005. In 2010, I left my job and created my own web development studio. jb is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 55 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

8 CSS preprocessors to speed up development time

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CSS allow you to do lots of things, but some features are missing to developers. What about variable, constants, and general faster syntax? As normal CSS can’t do that, people created preprocessors to allow the use of variables on CSS files and then parse it to regular stylesheets.

Less CSS

Less is probably the most well known CSS preprocessor. It allow a simplified syntax and the use of variables. Less CSS is for the Ruby programming language, however it looks like Aaron Russel created an extension for creating cached stylesheets your PHP projects can use.

Get it:


On their website, Sass claims to make CSS fun again. To be honest, I must admit that what this project is capable of is very interesting. Like Less CSS, it allow the use of variables and have a simplified syntax. Sass is definitely a great tool, unfortunely only available for Ruby, as far as I know.

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If like me, you’re a PHP Lover, here is a css preprocessor made for your favorite language. I haven’t tested it yet, but Turbine looks very cool. It allow a minimal syntax, automatically gzip multiple css, fix cross-browser issues, and a lot more. A must check if you’re into PHP.

Get it:

Switch CSS

Switch is a full featured, production ready CSS preprocessor. It runs under Apache with mod_python, or as an environment-agnostic command line tool.

Get it:

CSS Cacheer

CSS Cacheer is a very cool preprocessor which allows developers to create plugins. It requires PHP and Apache with mod_deflate and mod_rewrite in order to work.

Get it:

CSS Preprocessor

Another interesting preprocessor, written in PHP 5. Among other things, this tool allow you to use expressions such as margin-left: (200px * 3/2 – 10px); in your stylesheets.

Get it:


DtCSS speeds up CSS coding by extending the features to CSS. Such as nested selectors, color mixing and more. DtCSS reads the CSS file with special syntax written for DtCSS, and outputs the standard CSS. It also comes with a smart caching system.

Get it:


Unfortunely, CSS PP is still in alpha status, but the authors says the code will be released very soon. One of the good points of this projects is that it will be available in PHP, Python and Ruby. Great news for developpers who work with all of these languages.

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Paul Clark replied on Wed, 2011/11/02 - 8:59pm

Another preprocessor not listed is Scaffold by Anthony Short. It's a PHP implimentation of SCSS.

 I found it really useful in writing the Styles Plugin for WordPress, which uses plain CSS to create a WordPress theme admin for creating gradients, uploading images, or changing fonts and colors.

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