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While some have offered proposals on how to fix CSS—adding constants or variables, for example—none have been implemented by any browser manufacturers. And even if a browser did implement a newer, better, extended CSS, it could be years before the new syntax is supported well enough in all browsers for it to make sense to use it.

Fortunately, a few years ago developers Hampton Catlin and Nathan Weizenbaum proposed a better way to maintain a complicated stylesheet. While browsers aren’t ready for a new CSS, Catlin and Weizenbaum realized they could go ahead and design a new style sheet syntax with features to help make their increasingly complex CSS easier to write and manage, then use a preprocessor (a program that runs on your computer or server) to translate the new smart syntax into the old, dumb CSS that browsers understand.

The new stylesheet syntax they developed is called Sass, which stands for “syntactically awesome style sheets.” The original versions of Sass looked very different from regular CSS; there were no curly braces, and properties had to be indented with a specific number of spaces or else the compiler would raise an error. Programmers (who are used to learning new syntaxes, and enjoy pain) didn’t mind this so much, but for regular web designers it was different enough from the CSS they knew that most of them stayed away. There was a practical issue as well: because Sass’ indented syntax wasn’t compatible with regular CSS, it was difficult for people with large existing websites to start taking advantage of it without spending time converting their old code to Sass.