Web Development

What are the Best CSS Frameworks?

best css framework

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The use of CSS frameworks is one of the most popular practices for boosting efficiency. Frameworks are highly regarded because developers can save time and retrieve pre-written chunks of code for their projects. In this case, you can retrieve stylesheets and use the styling properties appropriate for your project.

By gluing many separate pieces together, you finally get a product. It might not be unique, but you can perform customization to the styling properties if you desire.

In general, CSS is a very beginner-friendly language, and you can learn it immediately after acquiring the basics of HTML. After learning the main principles of CSS, it is essential to explore the most popular CSS frameworks.

By definition, they are for assisting frontend development and making websites responsive. After all, one of the main objectives of website owners is to make pages adjust to different screen orientations and sizes.

What is a CSS framework?

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In short, CSS frameworks are tools containing collections of styling properties, usually designed in files referred to as stylesheets. As you know, you can style HTML elements in three ways: inline, internal, or external. However, the best option is to create .css files and link them to your HTML documents.

Frameworks are the main ingredient when it comes to robust web development, quickly leading to a functional and attractive user interface. Additionally, the best CSS frameworks are valued because they simplify the management of group projects. Instead of introducing new classes and other elements, colleagues can follow a standard set of components and make their code more reader-friendly.

After you start using a CSS framework, you need to adapt your code by including the necessary classes and IDs. Even though most of the frameworks supply the standard structure, you can add new blocks of styling properties for elements needed for a specific project. Therefore, the rules are loose (most of the time): you can customize your website to make it less clear that it came from a framework.

Do you have to use a framework?

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CSS frameworks (or any other framework) is not a mandatory tool to use. Some developers take pride in the fact that they produce CSS stylesheets manually. That is fine: whatever flows your boat.

However, frameworks are excellent choices for significantly expediting the web development process. Most of them are mobile-oriented, meaning that the provided code aims to make websites responsive, adapting to different screens. Additionally, the code is highly standardized, meaning that all browsers understand and display styling properties equally.

However, it might not be the best option for beginners to dive into the CSS frameworks quickly. The most practical choice would be to explore frameworks after you have learned the basics of CSS and HTML. For instance, this course will quickly introduce you to the main concepts of both of these languages.

learn HTML and CSS with Space Doggos
Learn HTML and CSS with Space Doggos

The leader of CSS frameworks: Bootstrap

Bootstrap is unarguably the most popular CSS framework. The majority of people refer to it is as CSS-oriented, but it actually has components of HTML and JavaScript as well. Therefore, it is not a pure CSS framework.

Bootstraps offers a multitude of reusable code for building responsive, neat, and well-organized websites. It is an obvious choice for many beginners since Bootstrap has a great ecosystem consisting of millions of users, tutorials, and positive reviews. Sometimes it can be challenging to evade cross-browser issues, but with Bootstrap, most of the compatibility and adjustment problems are forgotten.

Bootstrap interactive course
Learn Bootstrap by doing in this interactive course

This responsive CSS framework offers design templates with a wide selection of user interface components. For instance, you can get sets of typography, tables, buttons, forms, dropdowns, input groups, tabs, accordions, and so on. However, Bootstrap is not for teaching beginners CSS. It is preferred that you come with some knowledge and understanding of how styling properties work.

If you want to start developing your website, you can look at this course, explaining HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Bootstrap. To get more Bootstrap-oriented information, you can start learning from this course as well.

Foundation: CSS framework with more a flexible UI

The Foundation is a CSS framework for designing responsive websites and emails. The framework is feature-rich and consists of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code. These all-included features are great for developing the client-side of sites quickly.

There are several reasons why Foundation is not as popular as Bootstrap. The latter has become the go-to framework for anyone needing a quick option for their website design.

CSS Frameworks: Foundation CSS

When it comes to Foundation, it is more designer-oriented since it provides useful possibilities for customization. Bootstrap lack this flexibility. While it is possible to make modifications, developers recommend against changing the original bootstrap.css file since it might cause issues. Therefore, for developers who do not want their website to come from a framework fully, Foundation is a reliable option.

Additionally, the Foundation CSS framework aims to help develop responsive emails. Nowadays, you can open emails on your smartphone, tablet, or PC. Therefore, it is crucial that emails would be presented equally on all devices.

This responsive CSS framework also offers a responsive image system, pricing table components, embeds, form validation, and so much more. However, for beginners, it might seem more complicated than Bootstrap due to its flexibility.

Bulma: a true CSS framework

While both Bootstrap and Foundation frameworks combine HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, Bulma chooses to be a true CSS framework. Bulma is a newcomer in the framework-business that has managed to build an impressive user community already. One of the main reasons for Bulma being one of the best CSS frameworks is that the excellent readability of code.

CSS Frameworks: Bulma

Bulma is a Flexbox-based framework dedicated to the mobile-first approach. The previous networks aimed to combine functionality (JavaScript) and appearance (CSS). Bulma does not try to add any functional elements to websites. As proclaimed, this framework is mainly for setting the stylistic components of your website.

Overall, Bulma has many advantages from its responsive design to the welcome flexibility of code. It is less popular than Bootstrap but has the upper hand over Foundation. If you are looking for a pure-CSS option, you should definitely consider Bulma.

The customizable Tailwind CSS

Tailwind CSS is a utility-first CSS framework, highly-focused on making its code customizable. Therefore, Tailwind is one of the best CSS frameworks for those who prioritize flexibility and uniqueness.

CSS Frameworks: Tailwind

The framework provides you with basic properties such as sizes, colors, and margins. To create more complicated components, you can combine different elements offered by Tailwind CSS. Instead of being a regular UI kit, giving you polished buttons and components, the framework supplies you with utility classes for building the UI. Differently than Bootstrap or Bulma, Tailwind CSS does not have a grid system or layout designs.

It is a real Picnic CSS

Picnic CSS is a simplistic CSS framework that lets you style HTML elements without adding classes. This feature is different from, let’s say, Bootstrap that requires you to add classes to elements you want to style.

CSS Frameworks: Picnic CSS

Furthermore, Picnic CSS contains components for making websites interactive: a tab switcher, a file uploader, a tooltip, and a modal dialog. Surprisingly, these elements are purely-CSS, meaning that JavaScript code is not necessary.

The popular newcomer Susy

Susy is one of the Flexbox-based, lightweight CSS frameworks valuing flexibility and unique website prototypes. Developers regard it as one of the best new frameworks around because it lets you design an unlimited number of columns. Susy makes it easy to build the layout for your website, even if it is not standard. While Susy is becoming the preferred option for developers, beginners might find the features and possibilities confusing.

CSS Frameworks: Susy

Adding animations with Animate.css

Animate.css framework has a clear-cut purpose: to let developers animate HTML elements with one line of code. The framework provides animations labeled as static, scroll, click, and funky. In their homepage, you can browse through the available animations and download the Animate.css code.

CSS Frameworks: Animate.css

The basic properties with Skeleton

Skeleton is also one of those CSS frameworks that are lightweight and perfectly capable of serving small-scale projects. Additionally, it is an excellent option for beginners due to the combination of simplistic use and a variety of features.

CSS Frameworks: Skeleton

The entire framework consists of approximately 400 lines that support responsiveness and the most basic components of a website, including the 12-column fluid grid. For additional features, developers need to customize the CSS code.

The unique style of Paper CSS

Paper CSS is not an ordinary framework. Its components have unique styles, meaning that they won’t be appropriate for all websites. If you are building a serious business homepage, you might not want to build a peculiar design. Nevertheless, Paper CSS is a treat for anyone who wants to experiment and create a slightly-different website.

CSS Frameworks: Paper CSS

Conclusions

CSS frameworks are convenient choices when it comes to building websites quickly. With the wide selection available comes great responsibility to choose the right one for your project. Undisputably, you cannot go wrong with Bootstrap. It is stable, crazy-popular, and highly responsive. However, there is nothing wrong with trying out other flavors.

There are usually two camps when it comes to frameworks: people who love and use them and people who cannot stand them.  Remember that using a framework does not make you a bad developer. It might mean that you are saving time for more critical tasks, or simply avoiding repetitive code. Additionally, some developers create their own frameworks without even realizing it. For instance, if they re-use a chunk of code multiple times, developers are already entering the framework territory.

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