Using sassc with play-sass plugin

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Using sassc with sbt-sass

Today I was watching my coworker wait for about 15 minutes or so while installing node, npm, and grunt, all for the purpose of compiling sass assets. While waiting, I did a little bit of searching and ended up finding the play-sass plugin for play.

My fellow developer, being opinionated about the version of sass he uses had passed over the plugin after seeing gem install sass. Preferring a C++ version he had installed which was ran by his javascript setup (I'd call it bloat). However, on closer reading, I noticed that the readme file stated

Sass compiler needs to be installed for plugin to work. This means that sass executable needs to be found in path.

While it was suggested by the plugin to use ruby's sass gem, we only actually need the executable in the environment. Armed with this information. I stepped out to prove that we could get by without introducing an army of package, gulp, and install.js files into our code base.

It wasn't difficult. Compiling libsass is pretty easy if you can follow instructions, and then choosing an implementation was easy. For my purposes, and being a lover of c, I chose to use sassc. Installing sassc was simple, one can build it from source or use any mature package manager to do so. For example, on a Mac you might run:

brew install sassc

And be done with it. On linux, a similar call to apt-get and you'd be all set. The one kicker is that the binary for sassc is named, unsurprisingly, sassc and not sass like the plugin requires. This is trivially solved with a sym link though:

ln -s /usr/local/bin/sassc /usr/local/bin/sass

Once this is done, you're all set to run sbt! Within your play templates you can call out to your assets like so:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="@routes.Assets.at("sass/main.css")">

And this will use the compiled version of the file "sass/main.scss"! The additional plus is that since this is hooked directly into play whenever you save an asset file, the files will be updated appropriately.

Now I don't have a dependency on node, npm, or anything like that, and can compile sass with blindingly fast c. The only cost is that others will need to install sass in order to run the application. But when I consider that it took maybe 5 minutes at most to install sassc, and 2 seconds to setup a sym link. It's a fair cost.

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