Simple Grunt Configuration for Sass & CoffeeScript

UPDATE: There was a small bug with watching Sass files which is now fixed. The fix removed the ability to use .sass and now only .scss will be processed. You can of course edit the code and switch to .sass but it doesn’t allow you to watch them both at once. The majority of folks use .scss so I doubt this will be an issue.

I also added support for LiveReload.

Today I needed a simple Gruntfile for compiling Sass and CoffeeScript files. My requirements were pretty basic:

  • use CoffeeScript for the Gruntfile
  • compile *.coffee into *.js
  • compile *.sass and *.scss into *.css
  • allow for sub-directories
  • maintain the directory structure
  • provide commands to simply compile once or watch for changes

Now there’s a ton of articles out there about doing this but many fall short with a combination of being out-dated, using JavaScript for the Gruntfile, hard-coding file paths, not preserving directory structure, etc. So here’s a very simple working configuration to get you up and running fast.

First, I’m assuming you’ve got Node installed along with Ruby and RubyGems.

Second, I’m also assuming you have a directory structure that looks like this:


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You can easily change it around by editing the cwd, src, and dest properties of the Gruntfile. But I suggest running it as-is at first to ensure you’ve got things working in the first place.

Copy the following two files ( and package.json) and drop them into the root of your project.

module.exports = (grunt) ->
# configuration
# grunt sass
style: 'expanded'
files: [
expand: true
cwd: 'lib/sass'
src: ['**/*.scss']
dest: 'lib/css'
ext: '.css'
# grunt coffee
expand: true
cwd: 'lib/coffee'
src: ['**/*.coffee']
dest: 'lib/js'
ext: '.js'
bare: true
preserve_dirs: true
# grunt watch (or simply grunt)
files: ['**/*.html']
files: '<%= sass.compile.files[0].src %>'
tasks: ['sass']
files: '<%= coffee.compile.src %>'
tasks: ['coffee']
livereload: true
# load plugins
grunt.loadNpmTasks 'grunt-contrib-sass'
grunt.loadNpmTasks 'grunt-contrib-coffee'
grunt.loadNpmTasks 'grunt-contrib-watch'
# tasks
grunt.registerTask 'default', ['sass', 'coffee', 'watch']

"name": "grunt-sass-coffeescript",
"version": "0.1.0",
"repository": "",
"devDependencies": {
"grunt": "~0.4.2",
"grunt-contrib-sass": "~0.7.2",
"grunt-contrib-coffee": "~0.10.1",
"grunt-contrib-watch": "~0.5.3",
"coffee-script": "~1.7.1"

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With those in place, you’re almost ready to go. Just ┬árun the following couple of commands and you should be up and running.

# install sass
sudo gem install sass
# install grunt cli globally
sudo npm install -g grunt-cli
# note – switch to project directory where and package.json are sitting
# install dependencies
npm install
# run it (default is to watch both sass and coffeescript files)
# other tasks (compile once)
grunt sass
grunt coffee
# you can also explicitly call the watch task
grunt watch
# all commands are detailed by running the following
grunt –help

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Make sure to check out the complete list of options for the Grunt Sass plugin and the Grunt CoffeeScript plugin as you can easily tweak the Gruntfile to suite your needs.


If you’re doing any work with the HipChat API you may want to check out this handy node.js wrapper from TBWA Worldwide / Pilot developer Charlton Roberts. We’re currently using it fire off deployments and other fun stuff directly from our HipChat room.

You can find it on GitHub and npm: