I have been using subthemes built on Zen 7.x-3.x for a couple of years now, with general success and satisfaction. Now my clients understandably would like responsive themes and I'm considering a move to Zen 7.x-5.x, but I am confused after reading various bits of documentation. What I don't understand is the role of Sass and Compass - I am sure this is my fault but may I please ask a few questions?

  • I am working entirely with shared hosting of one kind or another. Do I need to install Sass and Compass in my 'live' webspace, and if so how should I set about doing this?
  • Or should I be developing new themes in a LOCAL environment on which I have already installed these tools? i.e. can I install Sass and Compass on my own PC and then build new themes locally using Zen 7.x-5.x which will then "just work" when I upload them to my production server?

After a few hours of research I think I am beginning to get the idea, but I'd be really grateful for any advice.