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Would you consider SASS software just a “converter” which takes .sass and converts to .css to then be uploaded?

It can certainly be used that way (and probably most people do). In that scenario, it’s just a way to make it easier to write/organize your css.

It is capable of much more, however. SASS calls itself a pre-processor, but that really just describes its intended usage. SASS is a Turing-complete programming language, and being able to write and execute actual programs is very, very different than simply “processing” or “converting” input in one syntax to output in another.

I always thought SASS was like a php script, where you would upload .sass/ .scss to the server which would process it and cache the “compiled” .css.

Installing ruby+sass+compass+whatever on your server and actually running your sass scripts on every request is certainly possible. It would be pointless, however, without some way to manage input*: if the script always produces the same output, then running it repeatedly is just a waste of processor time.

* which could be done without too much trouble, but I really don’t see a worthwhile use-case. edit: Actually, sites like codepen are a good example of this (and, now that I think of it, possibly a contributing source of the confusion).

Also, that’s not quite how PHP works, either: the output of a PHP script isn’t cached (unless you intentionally do so, at some point, but even then the script will still “run” every time it is requested).

I know for awhile Lea Verou was against pre-processors (not sure if she still is) but I think the argument against is a little half baked to be honest.

Agreed. And it would seem she uses SASS now (and this article is also a good example of using SASS as a programming language vs. as a simple converter).