Adding stylesheets into my Gulp file

I have been working on a series of blog post about my new development process, which so far has focused exclusively on javascript, including concatenation of javascript files, using Browserify to load jQuery and other javascript library files, and minifying (or uglifying) javascript files. Next it’s time to look at adding stylesheets.

Similar to javascript files, stylesheet files can be concatenated, in order to save round trips for individual files. So the first place I started was copying the javascript task, rewriting it for stylesheet files, and stripping out everything but the call to gulp-concat – the same plugin can be used as it fill concatenate any files.

gulp.task("css",function(cb) {
  pump([
    gulp.src(["css/*.css"]),
    concat("style.css"),
    gulp.dest("build/css")
  ]);
});

I think also creating a default Gulp task, in order to make it easy to call both my javascript and stylesheet tasks…

gulp.task("default",["js","css"]);

This means that when you run just “gulp” on the command line, it will automatically call the default task, which will then run through the array of related tasks – these are pre-requisites that are run first. This list of pre-requisites can be set for any task, but is especially useful in this default mode.

Also similar to javascript files, stylesheet files can be minified (or uglified), in order to save bandwidth and download time. However, this time a different plugin will be required, and the best I’ve found it called gulp-clean-css. Like many Gulp plugins, this is actually a thin wrapper around another plugin, called clean-css.

First I added the new plugin to the top of my Gulp file…

var cleancss = require("gulp-clean-css");

And then I added the call to my stylesheet task…

gulp.task("css",function(cb) {
  pump([
    gulp.src(["css/*.css"]),
    concat("style.css"),
    cleancss(),
    gulp.dest("build/css")
  ]);
});

The script has two optimisation levels…

  1. These operate on single properties only, and are mostly on by default.
  2. These operate on multiple properties at a time, including restructuring and reordering rules, but are off by default.

I have been using the default options for some time now, and these seems to serve me pretty well. But if you want even more savings, you can play with the options, especially by activating the second level of optimisations.

These are also covered in my Skillshare course, Optimising your website: A development workflow with Git and Gulp. The relevant videos are 15 – Concatenating Stylesheets and 16 – Minifying Stylesheets.

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