Sass Workflow Using cssnano and Autoprefixer

This Sass preprocessor workflow uses cssnano for postprocessing minification and optimization that includes Autoprefixer to add vendor prefixes for only the browsers that need to be supported.


Without Autoprefixer, adding in vender prefixes is done in the Sass code, typically with a mixin to append every known prefix for a property. This more advanced mixin to prefix properties at least accepts prefix parameters for more control over which ones to use. However, you still need to include the mixin with applicable parameters throughout your Sass code which requires knowing which properties might need prefixes.

With Autoprefixer, you do not need to think at all about which properties need prefixes. Simply use only the-un prefixed property name in your Sass or CSS code and Autoprefixer will check the Can I use database to append prefixes as needed while understanding the specification differences.


I don’t think I could write it any better than the folks at cssnano did, cssnano takes your nicely formatted CSS and runs it through many focused optimisations, to ensure that the final result is as small as possible for a production environment.. cssnano includes Autoprefixer in it’s list of transforms, therefore, when you install cssnano you also get Autoprefixer.


This simple workflow uses the Gulp streaming build system to process the Sass code, add vendor prefixes with Autoprefixer via cssnano to optimize into production ready css. In this gulpfile.js, note cssnano’s autoprefixer option which accepts an array of browsers to support.

'use strict';

var gulp         = require('gulp'),
    cssnano      = require('gulp-cssnano'),
    sass         = require('gulp-sass');

var supported = [
    'last 2 versions',
    'safari >= 8',
    'ie >= 10',
    'ff >= 20',
    'ios 6',
    'android 4'

gulp.task('css', function(){
    return gulp.src(['src/sass/**/*.scss'])
            autoprefixer: {browsers: supported, add: true}

Run the Workflow Example

In order to use the Node Package Manager (NPM) and Gulp task runner used in this workflow example, you will need to install Node.js.

Using a Command shell in the project root, follow these steps to get the local development environment setup.

Create package.json

The package.json file contains project metadata and lists dependencies that are available on npm. This is useful to have when you want to re-install or update the dependencies with the npm install command.

# create package.json
npm init

Install node modules

# install dependencies and save to package.json
npm install gulp --save-dev
npm install gulp-cssnano --save-dev
npm install gulp-sass --save-dev

Workflow Example Folders and Files

    • src
      • sass
        • modules
          • _js.scss
          • _loader.scss
        • main.scss
    • gulpfile.js
    • index.html
    • package.json
source code

Published by

Jim Frenette

Web Developer - views here are my own except those taken from people more clever than me.