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Download Vitals using Yarn!

Vitals makes a great addition to your Sass toolkit. It exists solely to fill gaps that other projects do not.

Vitals consists of a few simple Sass tools for building modern, flexible websites: an improved normalize (also available in pure CSS), shorthand systems for flexbox and grid, and a fluid sizing function.

Browser support:

  • IE 11
  • Edge
  • Firefox 28+
  • Chrome 44+
  • Safari/iOS 10.1+
  • Opera 31+
  • Chrome for Android
  • Firefox for Android

The goal is to be compatible with the most common browsers and versions currently in use. For example, older versions of IE (like 6-8) are intentionally not supported. Very few people use those versions, and if support for them is needed, I'm not interested in tackling that as it involves a lot of extra work for not much benefit.

I highly recommend combining Vitals with the excellent MQ+ media query library to create responsive grids and font sizes. But Breakpoints is ok too.

How to use Vitals in your Sass project

Disclaimer: I come from the world of PHP and have no experience with Ruby or Node, so I've never really used any of the usual tooling to install this kind of stuff. So naturally, I'm writing these instructions for someone like myself.

If you grab everything in the scss directory and put it in the same directory as the file you're working on, you can just use this, which will pull in all the important stuff:

@import "vitals";

Or you can import the pure Sass components without the normalize, if you like:

@import "flex-grid";
@import "fluid";

Vitals Flex+Grid

Flex+Grid is little more than some rewritten vocabulary that makes more sense to me. It's just a little syntactic sugar for those who already use flexbox and grid capably.

API Overview

Flex container mixins:

// This is the most basic one that the others inherit from.
// Its only advantage over "display: flex;" is that it adds "align-items: stretch"
// for browser normalization.
@include flex;

// Each of these also work stand-alone.
@include flex-row;
@include flex-row-reverse;
@include flex-col;
@include flex-col-reverse;

Flex item mixin:

// This is just a shortcut for flex: 0 1 auto; for browser normalization purposes.
@include flex-item;

Flex alignment modifiers:

// On a flex row, this aligns horizontally.
// Accepts all valid CSS values for justify-content, as well as
// "start", "end", and "justify" if you like those better.
@include flex-align($val);

// On a flex row, this aligns vertically. I call them "xalign" because "x" indicates
// alignment on the cross axis, thus making these suitably named for columns as well.
// Accepts all valid CSS values for align-items, as well as "start" and "end".
@include flex-xalign($val);

// On a flex row child, this changes vertical alignment per item.
// Accepts all valid CSS values for align-self, as well as "start" and "end".
@include item-xalign($val);

Flex item sizing function:

// Returns a measurement that accounts for gutter width.
// $fraction is literally a fraction size, like 1/4, that the item should occupy
// in the desired dimension.
// Default $gutter value is $item-gutter, which defaults to 0.625rem (10px).
item-size($fraction, $gutter)

Grid mixins:

@mixin grid-rows($val) { grid-template-rows: $val;    }
@mixin grid-cols($val) { grid-template-columns: $val; }

@mixin grid-align($val)  { justify-self: $val; }
@mixin grid-xalign($val) { align-self: $val;   }

Flex row Example

To start off, set up a container:

.row {
  @include flex-row;

Now that you have a row container, let's make some flex items that are 25% wide with the default 10px gutter.

.this-item-here {
  @include flex-item;
  width: item-size(1/4);
  margin: 0 0 $item-gutter $item-gutter;

What happened here? The item-size() function spits out a measurement that accounts for gutter width. For a standard push-left grid a la Bourbon Neat 2.0, you'll at least want to set margin-left to the gutter size. I also set margin-bottom so that vertical spacing is the same. $item-gutter is an included variable that is used by item-size() as the default gutter size if one isn't specified. It is set to 0.625rem, which is usually 10px.

If you don't want a gutter, that's fine too.

.this-other-item {
  @include flex-item;
  width: item-size(1/3, 0); // equivalent to "width: percentage(1/3);"

How to make cells responsive

To use Vitals Grid in a responsive manner, just redefine your item-size()s in different media queries. This works because any item that exceeds 100% of a container's main axis will be wrapped automatically.

Here's a primitive example using a sidebar class and the MQ+ media query library I recommended above.

.sidebar {
  @include flex-item;
  width: item-size(1); // full width by default, for mobile-first design
  margin-left: $item-gutter;

  @include mq(48em) {
    width: item-size(1/4); // 25% wide at desktop resolution

It's that simple!

Vitals Fluid

Fluid is a function that will output a flexible dimension, which scales along with the viewport width, for use with any property.

If you use this OUTSIDE of a media query, the scaling will not stop at a minimum or maximum.

This function takes a min and max size, and a min and max viewport.

fluid($sm, $lg, $narrow, $wide)

$sm is the size to be used when the viewport is at $narrow width, and $lg is the size at $wide width.

This function outputs a calc() string that scales the size linearly from $sm to $lg for the viewport range of $narrow to $wide.

Here's an example using Modular Scale and MQ+.

body {
  // the smallest font size, for mobile first
  font-size: ms(0);

  @include mq(45em, 60em) {
    // the intermediate size, which scales smoothly
    font-size: fluid($sm: ms(0), $lg: ms(1), $narrow: 45em, $wide: 60em);

  @include mq(60em) {
    // the largest size
    font-size: ms(1);

Is that it?

Yes, for now. I think there are some existing projects that adequately address their goals, such as:

I'll add to this list as I find other useful Sass projects.


Modular Scale

If you use the Modular Scale library, I've found that the following configuration gives some nice round increments at multiples of 3.

$modularscale: (
  base: 1rem,
  ratio: 1.25992

Using this, ms(0) = 1rem, ms(3) = 2rem, ms(6) = 4rem, ms(9) = 8rem, and so on.

I've included this in _defaults.scss which you must import explicitly if you want to use it, as it is optional.


A minimalistic bundle of a few SCSS/Sass tools for building modern, flexible websites: a better normalize, shorthand stuff for flexbox and grid, and a fluid sizing function.








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