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Responsive layout toolkit for Sass

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Susy - Compass Plugin

Susy is a semantic CSS framework creator entirely native to Compass. Susy is an expert at fluid grids in an elastic (or fluid, or fixed) shell that will never activate that bloody side-scroll bar. Susy sets your width on the outer element (container), adds a max-width of 100% and builds the rest of your grid in percentages. The philosophy and technique are based on Natalie Downe's "CSS Systems" - which introduces difficult math in the service of beautiful structure. With the power of Compass/Sass, Susy will do that math for you.

Using simple mixins, columns can be created, suffixed, prefixed, and nested easily - and always in flexible percentages.


sudo gem sources --add 
sudo gem install chriseppstein-compass 
sudo gem install ericam-compass-susy-plugin

Create a Susy-based Compass Project

compass -r susy -f susy <project name>

Then edit your _base.sass, screen.sass and print.sass files accordingly. A reset is added automatically.

Customizing your Grid System

Start in your _base.sass file. That's where you set all your defaults.

To create a grid system, set the !grid_unit (units that your grid is based in), !total_cols (total number of columns in your grid), !col_width (width of columns), and !gutter_width (width of gutters) variables in your _base.sass.


!grid_unit = "em" 
!total_cols = 10 
!col_width = 7 
!gutter_width = 1
!side_gutter_width = 2

The default values are 16 columns, 4em column widths, and 1em gutters and side gutters that match the internal ones.

Of course, designing in em's, you'll want to get your font sizes set to make this all meaningful. Do that by assigning a pixel value (without the units) to !base_font_size_px and !base_line_height_px. Susy will convert those to a percentage of the common browser default (16px) and apply them to your grid-container.


!base_font_size_px = 14 
!base_line_height_px = 16

The default values are 12px fonts with an 18px line-height.

_base.sass also has everything you need for setting default font families, colors to reuse throughout, and default styles for all those elements that ought have a default (but don't because of the reset).

Making Semantic Grids

  • Use the +susy mixin to get things ready, set your base font sizes and center your grid in the browser window. Change the alignment of your grid in the window with an optional left | center | right argument.

  • Use the +container mixin to declare your container element. Besides building the grid shell, this sets your horizontal margins to auto (for centered designs) and returns your text-alignment to "left". Change the internal text alignment with an optional left | center | right argument.

  • Use the +columns mixin to set the width (in columns) of a grid element. The first argument is the number of columns to span, the second (optional) argument is the width (in columns) of the containing element when nesting (defaults to the container's !total_cols). By default, the left margin is set to 0 and the right margin is set to the width of a gutter. Modify this for first and last elements with the +alpha and +omega mixins (below), or set larger margins using +prefix and +suffix.

  • Use the +alpha and +omega mixins to declare the first and last elements in a row, or inside a nested element. In the latter case, each of these mixins takes one argument, which is the size (in columns) of the containing element.

  • Use the +prefix and +suffix mixins with one argument to add that many grid columns as margin before or after a grid element. These mixins also take an optional second argument, the size in columns of the containing element when nested.



        +columns(4, 10) 
          +columns(1, 4) 
          +columns(3, 4) 

Extra Utility Mixins

Extra utilities are included in Susy's utils.sass file, with additional list options, experimental (CSS3/proprietary) CSS, and more.

  • +show-grid(!src) will remove all your backgrounds and repeat the specified grid image on an element. Good for testing your baseline grid.

  • +inline-block-list([!horizontalpadding]) for making lists inline-block when floating just won't do the trick.

  • +hide for hiding content from visual browsers while keeping accessability intact.

  • +skip-link([!top = 0, !right, !bottom, !left]) hide a link, and then show it again on focus. the TRBL settings allow you to place it absolutely on display. Default will be top left of the positioning context.

  • +inline-italic because some fonts/browsers add line-height when you explicitly set italics on an inline element - this takes some away.

And then the fun stuff:

  • +opacity(!opacity) adds cross-browser opacity settings (takes a range of 0

    • 1).
  • +border-radius(!radius) (+border-bottom-left-radius etc. all work) for rounded corners in supporting browsers.

  • +box-sizing(!model) for setting the box sizing model in supporting browsers.

  • +box-shadow(!verticaloffset, !horizontaloffset, !blur, !color) for box-shadow in webkit and CSS3.

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