A design-free, modular collection of OOCSS patterns, framework settings, and utilities for quickly building responsive web projects
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Scales is a collection of OOCSS patterns, framework settings, & utilities to quickly build mobile-first, responsive web projects. It clocks in at only 4kb when minified and gzipped.

It is purposely "design-free" so that there is nothing you will have to change. Instead, you will build your design on top of the foundation that Scales provides.

This is a framework for serious developers and designers who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty with advanced and sometimes challenging CSS concepts. A framework shouldn't do your work for you or make all of the decisions. Scales tries it's best to stay out of your way.

Scales is a highly scalable CSS architecture, it contains design patterns (scales in nature form patterns), and it is responsive so it scales to the width of the viewport. So clever it hurts.

Deal With It

Looking for the previous version of scales?

Scales 1.0.2

Techniques/Concepts Used in Scales

  • Object Oriented CSS Design Patterns
  • Responsive Design
  • Sass/scss
  • BEM (Block, Element, Modifier)-style naming convention

Browser Support

Scales uses box-sizing: border-box;, and display: table-cell;, neither of which are supported in IE7 and under. There are a few media queries, but they are an enhancement. Thus, Scales is only for IE9+ and any modern browser, but IE8 is also mostly covered.


  • Sass - Either Ruby Sass or Libsass.
  • NPM or Bower - To pull all of the scales repositories together. Not technically required as you could manually install each repo.


Make sure you have the dependencies installed on your system and then, from the root directory of your project, run:

npm install --save scalescss


bower install --save scalescss

Next you will want to create 3 files (name them whatever you want):

  1. A settings/variables file. ex. _settings.scss
  2. A file to import all of the scales repo. ex. _scales.scss
  3. A main file to import the settings, scales repos, and all of your project partials. ex. styles.scss


Scales exposes a large number of variables that allow you to customize nearly everything.

Have a look at all of the available variables.

The Scales Repos

Each piece of Scales is in its own repo. Once you have all of the repos in your project, you will need to import them into a single place. I recommend creating a _scales.scss file that imports everything.

The order of the imports is very important!

See an example of the correct import order.

Main Sass File

Once you have these files sorted out, you will want to create a main Scss file that will import your settings, Scales, and the rest of your project partials. This is the file that will get compiled into CSS:

@import your-project/settings;
@import your-project/scales;
@import your-project/project-partial;
@import your-project/project-partial;
@import your-project/project-partial;
@import your-project/project-partial;

Manual Installation

If you don't want to use a package manager to install Scales, you can clone each repo individually. A full list of repos is in the imports.md file. All repos can be found at the Scales organization page on Github.

Compile to CSS

Once you have these things set up you simply need to tell Sass what to compile:

$ sass your-project/styles.scss your-project/css/styles.css

There are many other options for compiling that you can find in the Sass Documentation. You can also look into using a task runner like Gulp or Grunt.

Pattern Library

This repo includes an index.html file that serves are a basic pattern library for Scales. It shows all of the available base settings and patterns. This can be used as a reference or styled into a more complete pattern library with your project's patterns as well.


This couldn't have been done without the amazing work of Harry Roberts on Inuit.css. A number of the design patterns and techniques in Scales were borrowed or adapted from Inuit.css.

I also wanted to thank Nicole Sullivan for her work on OOCSS, without which I would not be the developer I am today.

A special note of thanks also goes out to Vince Speelman, Rob Copeland, and Jen May who pushed me to rewrite Scales in a more modular way and who are always willing to listen to my bad ideas.

Sites using Scales