It’s no doubt that design is important in front end web development, making CSS essential. As a result, creating a visually-appealing website or web app would take a long time to build. This is a problem CSS frameworks are here to solve.
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What Is A CSS Framework?
According to Wikipedia,
A CSS framework is a library allowing for easier, more standards-compliant web design using the Cascading Style Sheets language
Simply put, a CSS framework is a collection of CSS styles put together to provide a standard structure to build responsive User Interfaces (UI) and components quickly and efficiently. This helps web developers to build user intuitive and responsive websites with ease.
Benefits of CSS Frameworks
Using a CSS framework in your project saves you from writing things from scratch. This is because CSS frameworks come packed with code that helps take care of foundational and repetitive tasks required in every project.
b. Cross-Browser Compatibility
Due to the existence of several web browsers, web developers always make sure the CSS rules they write appear consistently in every browser available. CSS frameworks help solve this problem, giving you more time to create and tweak components.
c. Ease in Collaboration
When working as a team, having an existing standard to follow is crucial. Using a CSS framework helps to create a customised set of rules or structure to follow, making collaboration easier.
Top CSS Frameworks
We have several CSS frameworks available to use and are ranked in no particular order. This section covers them.
No doubt, Bootstrap is the most popular CSS framework. It was formerly known as Twitter BluePrint and was developed in mid-2010 by Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton at Twitter. Its current stable version is Bootstrap 4 with its most recent version being the Bootstrap 5 Alpha.
Of recent, it launched its SVG icon library, which is designed to work with their design components. Bootstrap also offers official premium themes, which can be helpful to developers who are on a time crunch.
It is used by popular brands including Twitter, LinkedIn, Udemy, and Spotify.
It is known to be an easy CSS framework to learn as it’s usually the first one beginners start with.
Known as the most advanced responsive front-end framework in the world, Foundation is a CSS framework developed and used as an internal style guide at ZURB. In 2011, they released it to the public for use. It is known to be semantic, responsive, customisable, and professional looking.
It also comes packed with a custom Sass based animation library, which contains more than 20 built-in transition and animation classes. It is customisable, helping developers to create custom elements.
What distinguishes Foundation from others, is that it is also used to build responsive emails and not websites alone.
Foundation is used by popular brands including Adobe, Disney, HP, Electronic Arts, and Samsung.
3. Semantic UI
Semantic UI is a CSS framework that helps create beautiful, responsive layouts using human-friendly HTML. According to the team, it aims to empower designers and developers by creating a “shared vocabulary for User Interfaces“.
Its syntax is easily understandable as it uses natural languages. A great feature it offers is its Theming system. Not only can you build components, but you can apply different themes to it depending on the project you’re working on. Its available themes are:
- Semantic UI
- Google Material
Some brands using Semantic UI are Snapchat and Accenture.
Bulma is a CSS framework based on Flexbox. It is responsive, free, modern, and modular. It has a very simple grid system, helping you build modern responsive layouts quickly. Just like Semantic UI, its syntax is readable and easy to remember.
UIkit is a lightweight and modular front-end framework for developing fast and powerful web interfaces.
It provides you with a comprehensive collection of components which are simple to use, and easily customisable.
Materialize is a modern CSS framework based on Material Design, a design language developed by Google. It is aimed to be User Experience focused by utilising the principles of the Material Design system.
It is developed and maintained by a team of students from Carnegie Mellon University.
If you love the Material Design system and want to inject it into your project, the Materialize framework is a good fit.
Which Is The Best?
This is a common question asked in the front end community. Every CSS framework has its pros and cons, and each is suitable for a particular project, and might not be for another.
A good rule of thumb is to try most of them and decide which would prove effective to solve the design or layout problems you encounter.