The Importance of Compass & Sass: An Interview With Brandon Mathis

This week, ahead of his upcoming session and workshop at The Future of Web Design NYC 2011, we caught up with Compass & Sass fan Brandon Mathis!

Q1. Hey Brandon! We’re so pleased that you’re joining us at FOWD NYC next month! Could you tell us a little about yourself, your background and your current work?

I grew up working with the family business, a cave attraction just outside of Birmingham, Alabama. For the past 7+ years I’ve been a freelancing web designer. I got my start fresh out of college as a one-man show, designing WordPress sites and building small PHP web applications with Flash on the front end. My ambitions quickly outgrew my abilities and I started working with a Ruby on Rails consulting shop, where I could better to focus on honing my design skills and learning how to work in small teams alongside agile developers.

In the world of open source, I’m a Compass core team member and lately, I’ve been working on Octopress, a open source blogging framework which I created specifically for hackers.

Q2. You’re running a workshop on Compass & Sass for us this year – why is it such an important topic for web designers in light of the massive increase in mobile browsing?

The tremendous growth of mobile browsing has really changed the game for designers. Fixed width designs are dead, pixel perfect mockups are more clearly a huge waste of time, and “designing for the fold” is a far distant memory. We are now facing a job full of moving targets, where screen resolutions are all over the map and the goals of a single user can vary wildly, simply based on the device they’re using, or where they’re using it.

With the advancements in browsers and the adoption of HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript, our medium is shifting too. New approaches like “mobile first” are fantastic, but require fundamental shifts in our workflows that reach back to the way we think about designing for the web.

Isn’t that exciting? Okay I’ll admit, it’s also a little scary. But look at it this way. Those who are willing to educate themselves and commit to improving their craft have an amazing opportunity to be on the forefront of design, to demand higher rates, and work on more interesting projects.

Q3. What can people expect to take away from your FOWD NYC workshop?

While CSS3 brings some awesome new capabilities to browsers, it hasn’t really improved the way we author stylesheets. We’ve just been handed a pile of new browser features, but we still have to limp along with only CSS selectors, properties and values. We can’t use variables, math, or really any form of abstraction at all. With over four years of experience designing with Sass I can tell you, there is a better way.

That’s what my workshop is all about. Attendees will learn a fresh approach to authoring stylesheets using variables, math, code driven color theming, mixins, custom functions and more. I will be guiding them through the features of Sass and Compass and sharing my workflow for in-browser design. For designers who are currently trapped in CSS workflows, this workshop will help them write better stylesheets which are much easier to maintain.

Q4. Who is this workshop for and is there anything attendees should do to prepare?

Since Sass is a tool for stylesheet authors, this workshop is really intended for folks who already have a good bit of experience writing CSS. To participate in the workshop, attendees will need to be able to install Compass on their computers. During the first section I’ll assist with the setup, but if people come with Compass already installed, that would be fantastic.

Q5. What are you most looking forward to about FOWD NYC :)

So many things. For one, this will be my first time to go to NewYork, and I’m pretty excited about that. But mostly I just can’t wait to connect with all the amazing people who will be speaking and attending. This is such an essential conference for our field and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

There’s still some limited availability on Brandon’s workshop, so head on over to our site for more information and registration.

Thanks so much for your time Brandon!

(Thanks to The National Library Of Scotland via The Commons / Flickr for the image used above!)

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Comments

7 comments on “The Importance of Compass & Sass: An Interview With Brandon Mathis

    • Slowest possible selectors? Be smart about how you nest. There is no substitute for intelligence! :)

  1. With the advancements in browsers and the adoption of HTML5, CSS3, and
    Javascript, our medium is shifting too. New approaches like “mobile
    first” are fantastic, but require fundamental shifts in our workflows
    that reach back to the way we think about designing for the web.

  2. I love Sass and it’s affected our company’s workflow quite dramatically by allowing the designers to easily write and specify variables (such as headers, text, links etc) for developers to implementing when building a design. Makes everything so much quicker and less painful!