LESS CSS Compiler Plugin for the IntelliJ Platform
LESS CSS Compiler monitors LESS files and automatically compiles them to CSS whenever they change.
This plugin uses version 1.6.0 of the official
less.js compiler from lesscss.org.
This plugin is ONLY compatible with IntelliJ IDEA 11+, PhpStorm 5+, and WebStorm 5+. It should also be compatible with RubyMine 4.5+, but has not been tested.
Recursive Directory Monitoring
LESS CSS Compiler watches directories (and subdirectories) for changes to LESS files and automatically compiles them to CSS when they are saved in the editor (or when IntelliJ detects that they were modified outside the IDE).
You can monitor as many LESS directories as you like. You can also specify as many output directories as you like so that compiled CSS files will be copied to multiple locations (e.g., a local
srcdirectory under version control and a mounted
targetdirectory on a remote server).
The directory structure of the output CSS directories will be identical to the structure of the source LESS directory.
@import Dependency Resolution
@importa modified LESS file will be re-compiled automatically.
For example, if
@import "common.less", modifying
common.lesswill cause all three dependents to be re-compiled as well.
Include / Exclude File Patterns
Prevent specific LESS files from being compiled by specifying include / exclude patterns (glob) that match against filename, folder name, or any part of the complete path to the LESS file.
Move, Copy, and Delete Detection
When a LESS file is moved, copied, or deleted, LESS CSS Compiler will offer to do the same to the corresponding CSS file(s).
Virtual Filesystem Notifications
Unlike other solutions, this plugin is smart enough to notify IntelliJ when CSS files are changed, moved, copied, or deleted. In most cases, updated CSS files will be immediately reflected in the editor and Project tree view.
If the plugin somehow fails to catch changes to a LESS file, simply right-click anywhere in the editor or Project tree and select "Compile to CSS". You can also compile an entire directory by right-clicking on it in the Project tree.
Any errors encountered during the compilation process will produce an error notification balloon in the IDE containing a link to the file and the line number that caused the error.
- Go to
Settings(Windows / Linux) or
- Install the plugin from the IntelliJ plugin repository
- Restart the IDE
- Go to
Settings(Windows / Linux) or
IntelliJ IDEA > Preferences(Mac)
Project Settings, select
- Click the
+button to add a new LESS profile
- Choose a LESS source directory
- Add one or more CSS output directories and click
- Make changes to a LESS file and save it
LESS CSS Compiler allows you to maintain arbitrarily complex directory structures with ease. For example, suppose we have a project with the following directory structure (LESS CSS Maven Plugin's default layout):
projectRoot/ + src/main/ | + less/ | | + common/ | | | - common.less | | | - layout.less | | | - reset.less | | + home/ | | | - home.less | | + checkout/ | | | - checkout.less | | | - billing.less | | | - payment.less | + webapp/ | | + media/ | | | + css/ | | | | + common/ | | | | + home/ | | | | + checkout/ + target/ | + media/ | | + css/ | | | + v2/ | | | | + common/ | | | | + home/ | | | | + checkout/
Such a structure would be impossible to maintain using other tools. With LESS CSS Compiler, it's a breeze.
Slow First Compile
The first time you update a
less.js, and Rhino takes a while to initialize. But don't worry - after the initial compilation, all future compiles should complete in < 1 sec.
Notable alternatives to this plugin:
Running / Debugging the Plugin
Clone the repository:
git clone git://github.com/acdvorak/intellij-lessc-plugin.git
Ensure required plugins are enabled in IntelliJ:
- Plugin DevKit
- UI Designer
- Maven Integration
- I18n for Java
Import project into IntelliJ:
- Select the root directory of the Git repository you cloned
- Accept the default project name and location
- Check all source file directories
- UNCHECK the
- Check all modules
- If prompted "The module file 'lessc-plugin.iml' already exist. Would you like to overwrite it?", click
Select the IntelliJ SDK (
If you don't see the IntelliJ SDK:
- Click the
+button and select
IntelliJ Platform Plugin SDK
- Select the appropriate IntelliJ SDK directory (IntelliJ should automatically select it for you)
- Click the
IMPORTANT: Mark module directories appropriately:
Project Structureand select
You can also right-click on each directory in the Project tree and select
Mark Directory As.
Directory Type lessc-plugin/src Sources Root lessc-plugin/resources Resources Root asual-lesscss-engine/src/main/java Sources Root asual-lesscss-engine/src/main/resources Resources Root asual-lesscss-engine/src/test/java Test Sources Root asual-lesscss-engine/src/test/resources Test Resources Root
Add a Run/Debug configuration for
lessc-plugin, type =
- Test the plugin by going to
- When a .less file is a descendant of multiple profiles, but is only matched by the include/exclude patterns of a single profile, and the .less file has a syntax error in it, the error message notification is prematurely expired when a later profile's compile job completes "successfully" without changing any .css files (because the .less file doesn't match that profile's patterns).
- "Copy" profile button copies the saved state of the selected profile (it should copy the current state).
- LESS Engine: Asual DZZD (GitHub project)
- LESS Compiler: Alexis Sellier (GitHub project)
- IntelliJ Plugin: Andy Dvorak (Github project)
Copyright and License
Copyright 2012-2013 Andrew C. Dvorak.
Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at
Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.