A simple boilerplate focused on CSS and built around the number 12.
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A SCSS framework built around 12

Huh... ?

Base12 is a framework that provides you with a basic SCSS folder structure for your projects. Its measurements are built around the number 12 for increased flexibility & math goodies.

How do I use it?


  1. Download or clone Base12
  2. Fire up grunt
  3. Code away!

Base12 + H5BP

  1. Start a new project with the Classic H5BP
  2. Replace the css folder with Base12's
  3. Tweak your preprocessor
  4. Code away!

Base12, A Different Approach to Numbers

The most important aspect of Base12 is that it's measurements are based on the number 12. Because 12 has a wide range of divisors (1, 2, 3, 4, 6 & 12), it makes it very easy to get a wide variety of sub-measurements while keeping some rhythm in your design.

In this aspect, Base12 is more of a design philosophy. By using multiples/divisors of 12 across our design, we ensure that our numbers are not random but follow some rules. This can make a huge difference when thinking in terms of a baseline and vertical rhythm.

Customizing Base12

The boilerplate allows you to do some basic customizations through the _defaults.scss file. In here you will find variables for common styles such as type color, background, border, font sizes for headings and paragraphs, etc.

/* Author Variables
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ */
$primary-color:             #BADA55;
$accent-color:              #DE1E7E;
// etc...

/* Switches
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ */
// Browser support
$rem-to-px-fallback:        false; // Adds px fallback to properties that use the rem() mixin
$rgba-to-hex-fallback:      false; // Adds hex fallback to properties that usem the alpha-me() mixin

// Universal Styles (Use with caution!)
$universal-word-break:      false; // adds * { word-break: break-all; word-break: break-word; hyphens: auto; } 
$universal-bg-no-repeat:    false; // adds * { background: no-repeat; }
$universal-relativity:      false; // adds * { position: relative; }
$universal-middle-align:    false; // adds * { vertical-align: middle; }
$universal-border-box:      false; // adds * { box-sizing: border-box; }

// Basic Styles
$basic-blockquotes:         true;
$basic-tables:              true;
$basic-forms:               true;
$basic-buttons:             true;
$basic-code:                true;

// Debugging
$debug-mode:                false;

/* Type - use pixels for font-size & line-height
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ */
// Base
$base-font-size:            12px;   // Preferably in pxs
$base-line-height:          1.62em; // Preferably in ems

// Font families
$font-heading:              'Helvetica', sans-serif;
$font-body-copy:            'Times New Roman', Times, serif;
$font-monospace:            'Consolas', 'Courier New', monospace;

// etc...


The directory structure is as follows:

|- css/
|   |- main.min.css
|   |- scss/
|   |   |- main.scss
|   |   |- _defaults.scss
|   |   |- base12/
|   |   |- design/
|   |   |- generic/
|   |   |- objects/
|   |   |- vendors/


Compressed output file.


Here you can find and add all your partials.


Defaults is the file where you will customize and define the variables used in Base12. This stylesheet can also be used to host your own variables as well.


These files should remain untouched for easier updating of Base12. This folder contains all the basic styles which include styles from normalize.css and the H5BP. So it's an all-in-one reset & basic styler. This folder also contains a formulas folder for a few useful mixins.


Used to store the main styles of your site. It contains three files design, print, and screens.


Used to store the objects and modules of your site.


Third-party vendor stylesheets can be copied into this folder and then linked via the vendors stylesheet or directly through the main file for quicker access.



Hooray! Base12 is now automated via grunt. So far it's running very simple steps but there'll be more in the future.

  • It includes grunt-autoprefixer, a great little tool which looks at your code and adds prefixes as needed based on data from caniuse.com
  • Run grunt for the default action which will:
    • Compile and auto-prefix your CSS
    • Copy the minified css to the dist folder
    • Start the server and
    • Watch for future changes


Turn features on/off according to your preferences. At the moment the features available to switch on/off are:

  • REM to PX fallback
  • RGBa to HEX fallback
  • Animate all links
  • Universal word-break
  • Universal NO background-repeat
  • Universal relativity position: relative
  • Universal vertical-align: middle
  • Universal box-sizing: border-box
  • Basic styles (Removes opinionated styles, not reset styles)
  • Debugging Mode


The boilerplate includes a few formulas (mixins) to help here and there. I plan to add more depending on which ones get used the most.


Developed by GrowDigital. This formula returns 2 lines of code — regular pixel values and converted rem values.

// Mixin Syntax
@mixin rem($property, $value-in-px)

// Sample input:
.element { @include rem('padding',10px 0 2px 5px); }

// Sample output:
.element {
  padding: 10px 0 2px 5px;
  padding: 1rem 0 0.2rem 0.5rem; }


An adaptation of GrowDigital's mixin. This formula returns 1 line of code and is mainly used when setting line-heights.

// Mixin Syntax
@mixin em($property, $context-in-px, $value-in-px)

// Sample input:
.element { @include em('line-height', 24px); }

// Sample output:
.element { line-height: 1.5em; }


This mixin takes up to 4 arguments, a minimum of two. It will return two lines of code, one with a HEX value and the other with the RGBa value.

// Sample input
.element { 
	@include alpha-me( color, rgba(black,.5) );

	@include alpha-me( background-color, rgba(#dffa14,.5), #529ef0);

	@include alpha-me( box-shadow, 1px 1px 2px, rgba(white, .25));

	@include alpha-me( border, 3px solid, rgba(240,20,200,.5), #DADADA); }

// Sample output:
.element { 
	color: #7F7F7F;
	color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.5);

	background-color: #98CC82;
	background-color: rgba(223, 250, 20, 0.5);

	box-shadow: 1px 1px 2px #FFF;
	box-shadow: 1px 1px 2px rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.25);

	border: 3px solid #E577D1;
	border: 3px solid rgba(240, 20, 200, 0.5); }


This project started as a full boilerplate which included a grid and module system. While I have not discarded this idea, it is not my current focus. I may add these features to Base12 as I work more on it, however I found myself customizing things too much for each project to the point that a single grid system wasn't the right approach to go, it creates limitations, limitations lead to work arounds, and these will in turn create a bad product.