Haml and Sass

We also provide support for Haml and Sass, which are meta-languages for HTML and CSS, respectively. Haml is a syntactically simpler version of HTML that is much easier and faster to write and edit. The main reason is that it uses whitespace instead of opening and closing tags to denote element hierarchy. Additionally, Haml includes shortcuts for a number of commonly used page elements.

For example, this snippet of Haml:

  %v:collection{ :path => "blog_posts" }
        %v:text{ :path => "title" }

… is equivalent to this snippet of HTML:

<div id="blog">
  <v:collection path="blog_posts">
    <div class="blog_post">
        <v:text path="title" />

As you might imagine, working with the top one is much easier. Everyone on the Vae team is a big fan of Haml and Sass and we use them as much as possible when developing websites. The learning curve is incredibly easy; we find that most newbies can totally learn both Haml and Sass in less than an hour. The Haml documentation is a good reference for picking up the finer points.

Sass does a similar thing for CSS development. It replaces curly braces with meaningful indentation and adds the concept of nested rules. For example, this snippet of Sass:

  :width 97%
  p, div
    :font-size 2em
      :font-weight bold
    :font-size 3em

… is equivalent to this snippet of CSS:

#main {
  width: 97%; }
  #main p, #main div {
    font-size: 2em; }
    #main p a, #main div a {
      font-weight: bold; }
  #main pre {
    font-size: 3em; }

Again, you can see why working with Sass is easier on the eyes and brain. Sass also supports variables and arithmetic inside the stylesheet, which makes changing styles much easier.

Haml and Sass were originally developed as templating languages for Ruby and Ruby on Rails, and normally require a Ruby server running to work. However, on Vae, we’ve developed our own system for dynamically compiling and caching Haml and Sass source files, so you can put them on your FTP account and have Haml and Sass just work. You can include VaeML tags directly in your Haml source, but note that some of the Ruby-specific features of Haml will not work.

Files ending in .sass are automatically compiled into CSS stylesheets and cached. Files ending in .haml will automatically be compiled into HTML source files. Files ending in .haml.php will be run through PHP and then compiled into HTML source files.

To be clear, no browser or client-side support is required for Haml and Sass – they are transformed into HTML and CSS on the server-side.

Vae also has automatic built-in support for the Compass CSS framework.