Foundation - Helpers

Helpers are the functions, mixins, extends, and animations used throughout an MVCSS application.


Because of the many useful functions Sass gives us for free, we rarely need to define any of our own. Still, there may be occasions where you need to define some others (e.g., em, rem, strip-units). For these cases, we’ve dedicated the Functions section within Helpers to housing any necessary additions.


We use mixins to reduce the amount of repeated code when authoring style sheets. Usually, this involves simplifying lengthy syntaxes, as well as providing fallbacks and vendor prefixes for unsupported CSS properties.

Take media queries for example: the most commonly used arguments are screen and min-width, so we made a mixin that includes those values as defaults, unless stated otherwise.

// ----- Respond-to ----- //
// -> Generates a media query
// $val - the breakpoint size
// $query - the type of query ('min-width', 'max-width')
// $media - the media type ('screen', 'print', etc.)
// @content - the generated content within the mixin

=respond-to($val, $query: min-width, $media: screen)
  @media #{$media} and ($query: $val)

By now using the respond-to mixin throughout a project, you can write less code to achieve the same result.

// Standard CSS
@media screen and (min-width: $g-m)

// Sass mixin

Entries in the Mixin section should always take arguments and have the ability to differ when utilized. If you’re looking to add an unchanging group of properties to reuse, they belong in Extends.


Extends are collections of rules to use either directly in the markup, or to extend within modules. These are generally more verbose than Tools, but still adhere to the single responsibility principle.

Even though we frequently extend these classes within modules, we avoid the percent sign syntax (%className) to create placeholder selectors in Sass. It’s a good reminder to ourselves that these classes shouldn’t be nested in the context of anything else, avoiding potential selector bloat associated with extends.

Inside Markup

The group class applies multiple rules to a single element, and in the following example, we’re using it directly in the markup.

// ----- Clearfix ----- //

  clear: both
  content: ''
  display: table
<footer class="group">
  <p class="fl">Made with Envy</p>
  <img class="fr" src="logo-envy.svg" alt="Envy Logo">

Inside Modules

In the following g (grid) Component, we extend the group class within the module itself.

  @extend .group
  display: block
  margin-left: -$g-gutter / 2
  margin-right: -$g-gutter / 2


Within Helpers, Animations are the general-use @keyframes definitions that can be called across various modules.

If you catch yourself defining a similar animation in two separate places, we try to abstract it into a single, less contextual animation that can be reused throughout a project.

For example, in the case of fadeIn, we’re likely to use this animation across many different modules, making it a perfect animation to define inside Helpers.

// ----- Fade In ----- //

@keyframes fadeIn
    opacity: 0
    opacity: 1

Note: animations unique to specific modules are defined at the bottom of their respective style sheets.