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⇒⇒ Scally is no longer actively maintained. To see a more modern version take a look at my latest open source CSS library: backpack.css. ⇐⇐

npm version Bower version


What is Scally?

Scally is a Sass-based, BEM, OOCSS, responsive-ready, CSS framework that provides you with a solid foundation for building reusable UIs quickly. It is a framework focused on scalability and reuse; there when you need it and getting out of your way when you don't.

Scally is designed to be configurable, only requiring you to bring in the parts you are using, keeping your CSS architecture lightweight and scalable. It is un-opinionated about design, thus giving you more flexibility than your typical UI toolkit.


A website—featuring demos of everything in Scally—is under construction.

So far demos of the Core/Base section are available:

Scally architecture

Scally is broken down into five main sections, with each section getting its own level of specificity. This means each one builds on top of the other in terms of inheritance and CSS' first C: the cascade. Think of these sections as layers:

The breakdown of these layers from bottom to top (order of their specificity):


  • Sass (either Ruby or LibSass)

  • Autoprefixer

    Autoprefixer parses CSS and adds vendor-prefixed CSS properties using the Can I use database.

    We advise you to setup Autoprefixer as part of your build process. If you're using Grunt, you can create a Grunt task for Autoprefixer using a Grunt plugin such as grunt-autoprefixer.

Installing Scally


Scally can be installed as a package with either:

You'll need node.js installed to use the npm and Bower packages. More information on installing npm can be found here. With node.js installed, you can install the Scally npm package by cding into your project folder (the root is recommended) and running this command:

npm install scally

For the Scally Bower package, you first need to install Bower via npm like so:

npm install -g bower

Then, just like the npm package, you cd into your project folder (the root is recommended) and run this command:

bower install scally

Once the package is installed, your project will look like this:


project root


project root

N.B. Scally should never be edited or added to directly. If you ever make changes directly in Scally, you will not be able to seamlessly update your version of Scally to the latest version at a later date.

This is a very simple overview of npm and Bower. If you are new to them, you can learn more about npm here and check out Bower's docs here.

Git clone

You can install Scally by using the git clone command by cding in to the root of your workspace folder and running this command:

git clone

If you don't want to use the SSH clone URL, GitHub also offers:

Download by zip

You can install Scally via the Download by zip option which is part of the Scally GitHub interface.

It's advised to use a package manager like npm or Bower to handle your third-party dependencies.

Setting up a new project

Setting up your master stylesheet

Once you have installed Scally, you will need to create a master Sass stylesheet called style.scss, or whatever you prefer (but for the purpose of this document style.scss will be the expected name).

This file will live at the root of the folder where you keep all of your CSS.

The compiled version of this file will be your master stylesheet that's linked from your HTML <head>. In Ruby, you can run a basic Sass watch command to compile your Sass, like this:

sass --watch style.scss:style.css

But for most projects your Sass will be compiling as part of a build process e.g. if you're using Grunt, you can use a Grunt plugin such as grunt-contrib-sass or grunt-sass to compile the Sass.

Then add a reference to the compiled master stylesheet in your HTML <head>:

<link href="[path/to/your/css/folder]/style.css" rel="stylesheet">

This master stylesheet is designed to combine the Scally framework and your project-specific styles together and compile them down to a single CSS file. We'll dig into how we suggest you set this up in the next section.

Master stylesheet overview

Your master stylesheet is split into three main sections:

  1. Your settings. All of your project-specific settings in the form of Sass variables.
  2. Scally framework. The entire Scally framework including project-specific overrides.
  3. Your styles. All of the CSS you will write for your project.

N.B. it's imperative this order is maintained otherwise Scally won't work.

Your settings

Create a new .scss file called settings.scss that will live in the root of the folder where you keep all of your CSS, along with your master Sass stylesheet: style.scss, and link to this file from style.scss like so:

@import "settings";

This must come before the other two sections.

In this file you will store all of your common project-specific settings, beyond what Scally offers. Typically you won't have many of these, however, common project-specific settings might include adding more brand colours. If you need a new colour, in settings.scss you can create one like so:

$color-tertiary: #ccc;

Another example might be adding a new font family, e.g.

$font-family-droid-sans: "Droid Sans", sans-serif;

The reason this section comes first is so that you can refer to them throughout the rest of your styles.

Scally framework

This section pulls in the entire Scally framework via individual Sass @imports and is where you override Scally's settings.

This is what makes Scally so powerful; it can be completely modified by changing the settings without ever having to alter the framework itself.

For example, if you wanted to change the global font size for your project, you simply assign a new value to the relevant Scally setting (which in this case would be $font-size) and declare it above the relevant @import partial in style.scss, like so:

$font-size: 14;
@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/scally/core/settings/typography";

You can use your own project-specific settings from your settings.scss file to override any of the Scally settings e.g.

$color-text-base: $color-hotpink;
@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/scally/core/settings/colours";

The sample master stylesheet imports everything in the framework by default. You should be selective to ensure your CSS is as lean as possible, by only importing what you need.

If you decide you only need to use half of Scally's utilities, then simply remove the relevant utility partial @imports that you don't need from style.scss.

However, the Core section is required, so please do not remove any of the @imports for this section or Scally will not work as expected.

Your styles

This section is where you pull in all of your project-specific styles. We recommend following the same architecture as the Scally framework.

Sample master stylesheet

Here is a sample of a master stylesheet you could use for your style.scss:

@charset "UTF-8";

/* ============================================================================
   ========================================================================= */

 * Scally, being an OO framework, works in keeping with the open/closed
 * principle. Any custom styles *SHOULD NOT* be added or modified in Scally
 * directly. This also allows the framework to be updated seamlessly.
 * Contents:
 * Your settings.........your project-specific settings.
 * Scally framework......the entire Scally framework including your overrides.
 * Your styles...........all your project-specific styles.
 * N.B. the above order and the order within the Scally framework section must
 * always be followed.

/* Your settings
   ========================================================================= */

 * Your project-specific settings.
 * N.B. define first so they can be used throughout your styles.

@import "settings";

/* Scally framework
   ========================================================================= */

 * By default everything is imported. But if you want to be selective and you
 * definitely should, so your CSS is as lean as possible, then only import what
 * you want. The Core section is however mandatory.
 * Any settings you find set in Scally that you do not wish to keep, simply
 * redefine above/below the relevant `@import`. This means that if Scally, for
 * example, sets your `$font-size` at `16px` and you wish it to be `14px`,
 * simply redeclare it above the relevant `@import`, like so:
   $font-size: 14;
   @import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/settings/typography";
 * If you want to use a Scally setting to override something then you need to
 * define the override below the `@import`, like so:
   @import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/settings/colours";
   $color-text-base: $color-brand;
 * If you try to redeclare above the `@import` your Sass won't compile as you
 * don't have access to the Scally setting at the point of compilation.
 * All non-Core settings need to be overridden above the `@import`, like so:
   $o-arrow-size-base: 14;
   $o-arrow-color: orange;
   @import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/objects/o-arrow";
 * Scally ignores its own settings in favour of using your own, so you can
 * completely modify how Scally works without ever having to alter the
 * framework itself.
 * N.B. the order specified below must always be followed or Scally will
 * break.
 * Contents:

 * CORE.
 * N.B. this is all mandatory for the Scally framework.

// Settings
@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/settings/typography";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/settings/spacing";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/settings/retina-resolution";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/settings/breakpoints";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/settings/widths";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/settings/colours";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/settings/positioning";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/settings/cosmetics";

// Functions
@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/functions/convert-px-to-em-rem";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/functions/math-helpers";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/functions/string-replace";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/functions/strip-unit";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/functions/tint-shade";

// Mixins
@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/mixins/convert-px-to-em-rem";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/mixins/font-size";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/mixins/gradients";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/mixins/media-queries";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/mixins/generate-at-breakpoints";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/mixins/generate-percentage-classes-at-breakpoints";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/mixins/retina-bg-image";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/mixins/target-browsers";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/mixins/target-headings";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/mixins/text-input-placeholder-colour.scss";

// Normalize
@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/normalize";

// Reset
@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/reset";

// Base
@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/base/root";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/base/abbreviation";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/base/forms";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/base/details";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/base/headings";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/base/horizontal-rule";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/base/links";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/base/media";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/base/paragraphs";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/base/print";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/base/viewport";

// Placeholders
@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/core/placeholders/bottom-spacing";


// Main container
@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/layout/l-container";

// Grid
@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/layout/l-grid";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/layout/l-grid-pull";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/layout/l-grid-push";

// Side-by-side
@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/layout/l-side-by-side";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/layout/l-side-by-side-alt";

// CSS3 columns
@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/layout/l-columns";


@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/objects/o-drop-down";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/objects/o-flexible-embed";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/objects/o-link-complex";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/objects/o-link-disguised";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/objects/o-list";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/objects/o-list-block";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/objects/o-list-inline";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/objects/o-arrow";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/objects/o-overlay";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/objects/o-table";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/objects/o-button";


@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/components/c-button";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/components/c-button-faux-link";


@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/utilities/u-clear-fix";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/utilities/u-text";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/utilities/u-widths";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/utilities/u-alignments";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/utilities/u-toggle-visibility";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/utilities/u-momentum-scrolling";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/utilities/u-float";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/utilities/u-new-block-formatting-context";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/utilities/u-gpu-accelerated";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/utilities/u-position";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/utilities/u-display";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/utilities/u-spacing";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/utilities/u-overflow";

@import "[path/to/the/scally/framework]/utilities/u-hide";

/* Your styles
   ========================================================================= */

// Start styling your project via individual @imports :)

Example architecture

You may end up with your project setup like this—assuming you have contained all of your CSS in a folder called css and you have used Bower as your package manager:

project root
|   |
|   └───scally
    |   settings.scss
    |   style.scss
        ├─── [...]

Browser support

  • Chrome (last two versions).
  • Firefox (last two versions).
  • Opera (last two versions).
  • Safari (last two versions).
  • IE9+.
  • iOS 7+.
  • Android 4+.

Authoring guidelines

Scally follows these CSS authoring guidelines.


To ensure a consistently-authored codebase, and to keep things clean and readable, Scally uses scss-lint.


To install, run the following command:

gem install scss-lint

To use, cd into your project's root and run this command:

scss-lint ./

This will lint everything. To lint at a more granular level, learn about its usage.

Linting rules

Scally's linting rules are based off these CSS authoring guidelines.


Scally gratefully welcomes contributions from the open-source community.

Keep it simple

Scally is written in Sass, which provides a lot of incredibly powerful features. However, Scally does not want to become a platform to showcase Sass' capabilities; all code that comes into Scally should be as simple and CSS-like as possible.

Submitting code to Scally

Before submitting code to Scally, check the Scally GitHub issues to see if what you want to add to Scally already exists. If it doesn't, create a new issue and label it appropriately. It's a good idea to wait a few days for some feedback from the Scally community before writing any code.

To submit code to Scally, fork the Scally repository, make your changes, then create a GitHub Pull Request back to the Scally master branch for review.

Your PR title should use the same title as its corresponding GitHub issue but prefixed with the issue number e.g.

Issue #108: Remove style.scss and style.css from the repo and package json files

And in the PR description include:

This fixes #[x]

Where 'x' is the issue number. GitHub will offer an auto-complete menu as soon as you type '#' where you can choose the corresponding PR.

You should also add a comment in the GitHub issue linking to the PR.

Make sure your code is:

  • Thoroughly tested:
    • Your Sass compiles both with the Ruby compiler and the LibSass compiler.
    • Tested in all supported browsers, see.
  • Linted. Scally's build tests will catch any linting issues, however, it's good practice to also run linting manually.
  • Following these CSS authoring guidelines. Linting will catch a lot of this but not everything.

Scally GitHub issues

If you would like to suggest any new additions or improvements to Scally, log any issues or bugs, or just ask a question, please open a new GitHub issue and label it appropriately.


Scally is maintained under the Semantic Versioning guidelines. We will do our best to adhere to those guidelines and strive to maintain backwards compatibility.




Copyright 2014 Westfield Labs Corporation.

Copyright 2015 Chris Pearce.

View license.

Licensed under the Apache v2.0 license.

Scally was originally created at Westfield Labs whilst I was employed there.

Scally was something I brought to Westfield Labs, and something I worked on full-time as the main developer. Other Westfield Labs employees who also contributed to Scally include:

After I finished at Westfield Labs, I decided to fork Scally so I could maintain the framework myself under my own personal GitHub account.

Since then, there have been other contributions to Scally from:

Further documentation


Scally is a Sass-based, BEM, OOCSS, responsive-ready, CSS framework that provides you with a solid foundation for building reusable UI's quickly 🕶








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