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August 3, 2016

A lesson learned from developing a LESS mixin library

Head of Product & Co-founder at Avocode and a former Lead Product Developer and Co-founder at MadebySource.

"I still write code. In fact that's what I love doing most."

Today, I'd like to share with you a story about how we developed the LESS Hat and why we stopped developing it even though people were like:

“At first I was SASS all the way, but LESS is cleaner and doesn't depend on gems. Also, lesshat is F@#$'n awesome.”

We needed our own thing

At the time when we were developing the CSS Hat (I'm talking early 2013) we were looking for a truly universal LESS mixin library that we could use for exporting Photoshop layer styles into CSS. As the name suggests CSS Hat originally supported only CSS, but soon we wanted to add more languages that would be compiled into CSS, like Less, Sass and Stylus.

Both Sass and Stylus already had decent mixin libraries but we didn't find any for LESS. To fill in this niche we set out to create our own.

As we started coding our own library, which would be able to do the same as the one in Sass, we stumbled upon quite a pickle. LESS wasn't really prepared for such a thing, so we had to hack it by using JavaScript in order to bend LESS to the shape we needed it to be in.

What does it mean “universal”?

We found out that some people who attempted to develop their of LESS mixins always had a limited amount of things like shadows to be written. We realized we're onto something and created a mixin that had no limits, and therefore was truly universal.

A funny thing: for a time there was a company that tried to do it better than we did. They even shared some bad words on how slow our product is. To show that we were not scared to take our hats off, we released an update which was 60 times faster that the one from the competition. This made our mixin unique and unmatched by anything out there.

Eventually we finished it a launched it by adding this library to the CSS Hat. We also created this landingpage which gather a very nice traffic.

All together we've released three big versions of LESS Hat and then... we stopped.


I found something better, so I don't see any point to keep working on it. (Though, looking back I must admit that the competition was fun.) After we received about 30 requests from people who asked us to keep developing it, we found a guy who picked it up where we left off.

So don't worry, you can still download the LESS Hat on this site and if you cave any requests or you would like to report an issue, go to the GitHub page.

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