Quick guide to node-sass with our django projects

node-sass requires node and npm to be installed see Install Node

Using in an existing project

When you clone a project that’s already using scss you can configure the development environment as follows:

npm install --only=dev

Using sass in development

After configuring your development environment, to enable continuous compilation of your scss changes to css, in the root directory of the project type:

npm run serve

This will compile the scss to css, monitor the scss directory for changes and start the django development server. Alterantively, if you do not require the development server you can compile the scss to css once using:

npm run scss-compile

Or continuously monitor changes to the scss directory using:

npm run scss-watch

Add sass to an existing django project

For our django projects we create a scss directory at the top level and use the 7-1 pattern. You can use the dev-scripts create-scss script to set this up:

create-scss <project group> <project name> "<description>" [<master scss file> <output css file>]

The project group is the project group on your git repository provider, project name and description are self explanatory e.g. if your repo is at and your css file is web/static/web/web.css:

create-scss kb example_com "Website for" styles.scss web/static/web/css/web.css

This will create a directory structure of:

  + abstracts/
  + base/
  + components/
  + layouts/
  + pages/
  + theme/
  + vendor/
  + styles.scss

This script runs npm install using the generated package.json so you will also see a node_modules in your project directory and if using node v8+ a package-lock.json you should add /node_modules/ to the .gitignore and add node_modules to the norecursedirsi directive in the setup.cfg

Depending of the name of the stylesheet you have in your project you may need to edit the scripts section of package.json to update the correct css file.

You can you use sass in you development as described above Using sass in development

General notes about node-sass

Install Node

If you don’t already have node installed you can install the ubuntu package:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install nodejs

As of ubuntu 18.04 this will install v8. If your version of ubuntu does not install npm - if the following reports a version it’s installed:

npm --version

If you get command not found can install npm using:

sudo apt install npm

Alternatively you can install the latest nodejs from nodesource repository as follows:

curl -sL | sudo -E bash -
sudo apt update
sudo apt install nodejs

You’ll probably need build-essentials if you don’t already have in installed:

sudo apt-get install build-essential

Install node-sass

If you want to install node-sass globally you can do this using - we tend to use per project installation with package.json so this is not necessary:

npm install -g node-sass

If you have trouble installing node-sass, see node-sass will not install

node-sass usage

Compile a scss file one time:

node-sass -o <output directory> <relative path to scss file>

Compile all scss files in a directory file one time:

node-sass -o <output directory> <relative path to directory containing scss files>

Watch a directory containing scss files and compile on the fly:

node-sass -o <output directory> <relative path to directory containing scss files> -w

node-sass Options

By default node-sass generates css with each attribute on a new line and the closing brace on the same line as the last attribute. Use the expanded output style to generate pretty output:


For a compact output use:



Sass is available in two flavours we use the extentsion of css syntax which is stored in a file with the extension “.scss”

Simple example

The scss/style.scss file containing the following:

.example {
  p {
    color: green;

Can be compiled (in watch mode) to css/style.css using the command:

node-sass -o css scss -w --output-style=expanded

The css/style.css file will contain:

.example p {
  color: green;