:satellite: Today I Found

Tailwind CSS, a cool utility-first CSS framework

programming Tailwind CSS tailwind-css PostCSS post-css css

Tailwind CSS is a utility-first CSS framework packed with classes like flex, pt-4, text-center and rotate-90 that can be composed to build any design, directly in your markup.

I’ve been using Bootstrap for a while, at least since version 2 was released in 2012. I still use it. It has its faults, one of them being that when you use Bootstrap without spending some time to customize it, your website kind of looks the same as all other Bootstrap websites.

Tailwind CSS is lower-level than Bootstrap. It has primitive utilities rather than UI components. Think grids, colors, margins, not buttons and cards. I think it would be more accurate to call it a CSS library rather than a CSS framework, in the same way that jQuery is a library and React or Vue are frameworks. There is a higher level Tailwind UI library which seems to be more like a framework.

The theme of this blog is entirely styled with Tailwind CSS, with not one line of custom CSS (with the exception of the CSS used for syntax highlighting of code).

I’m not a designer, and I’m not winning any design awards any time soon, but I think this theme looks okay and it’s pretty cool I was able to create it in a few days with these utilities when I’m definitely not a CSS pro.

Building components from primitive utilities

Traditionally, whenever you need to style something on the web, you write CSS. With Tailwind, you style elements by applying pre-existing classes directly in your HTML:

<div class="flex items-center p-6 max-w-sm mx-auto bg-white">
  <div class="flex-shrink-0">
    <img class="h-12 w-12"
         src="/img/logo.svg" alt="ChitChat Logo" />
    <div class="text-xl font-medium">ChitChat</div>
    <p class="text-gray-500">You have a new message!</p>

Take a look at the Liquid template for the layout of this page. All of the classes you see in the various class attributes are Tailwind utilities.

Mobile-first, responsive design

Tailwind CSS is designed to build adaptive user interfaces.

Like Bootstrap, Tailwind encourages a mobile-first design. What this means is that unprefixed utilities (like uppercase) take effect on all screen sizes, while prefixed utilities (like md:uppercase) only take effect at the specified breakpoint and above.

  Width of 16 by default,
  32 on medium screens,
  and 48 on large screens
<img class="w-16 md:w-32 lg:w-48" src="..." />

Adding base styles

You can define base styles to avoid repeating yourself. This helps keep your design DRY.

@tailwind base;
@tailwind components;
@tailwind utilities;

@layer base {
  h1 {
    @apply text-2xl;
  h2 {
    @apply text-xl;

Take a look at the stylesheet for this blog. Note the absence of any custom CSS (except the syntax highlighting CSS): all styles are derived from Tailwind’s primitive utilities.

Some more information

While Bootstrap is based on Sass, Tailwind CSS is installed as a PostCSS plugin. PostCSS is a tool for transforming CSS with JavaScript. You can combine Tailwind with other PostCSS plugins like the PostCSS autoprefixer plugin.

This blog is made with Jekyll. Integrating Tailwind CSS is easy with the Jekyll PostCSS plugin. It takes one line, as you can see in this blog’s PostCSS configuration file.