Why Use Tailwind?

TailwindCSS has become one of my favorite frameworks to work with in the past couple of years. I've used it in every and all personal web apps and even recommended and implemented it at work wherever I can. This is quite the change for me too, as when I was first introduced to Tailwind I hated the idea of it. Now, I can't imagine starting a new application without using Tailwind.

What is Tailwind?

Tailwind is, as they describe it, a utility-first CSS framework. Let's go over an example.

Let's say that you have this structure:

    <h1>Hello, world!</h1>
    <p>I am centered horizontally and vertically</p>

As the paragraph tag says, we want to center this. With traditional CSS we would assign it a class name and then target that class name in a CSS file. It would look something like:

div {
    display: flex;
    align-items: center;
    justify-content: center;

With Tailwind, you never have to leave the HTML and can just use the class names from Tailwind:

<div className="flex items-center justify-center">
    <h1>Hello, world!</h1>
    <p>I am centered horizontally and vertically</p>

What I Like

  1. You don't have to leave the HTML.

This is one of the most important pros of Tailwind for me. There's no need to leave the markup because I can apply every style I need within there. This leads to faster development time and less context switching as everything is in one spot. A counter-argument to this is that you can use styles inline but this leads into point 2.

  1. You can easily apply responsive styling. Responsive queries in CSS add more complexity than necessary to a CSS file. An example of changing a container's width for different screen sizes in Tailwind can look like:
<div className="w-full md:w-8-12 lg:w-6/12 xl:w-4/12"></div>
  1. Similar to the point above is pseudo styles. Hover, active, focus, and other similar styles can be applied just as easily. An example of gray text that turns blue on hover can look like:
<p className="text-gray-800 hover:text-blue-800">Hello, world!</p>

There's also the same utilities but for groups so for example if you have a div with multiple elements but you want every element to turn blue when the div is hovered over, you could do:

<div className="group">
    <p className="text-gray-800 group-hover:text-blue-800">Hello</p>
    <p className="text-gray-800 group-hover:text-blue-800">world</p>

This also goes for dark mode. Tailwind can be configured to either detect the user's dark mode preference or you can make it so that the dark class name has to be present for dark mode to be used. To style for dark mode, you just prefix any class name with dark like so:

<p className="text-gray-800 dark:text-gray-50">
    I'm dark on light mode and light on dark mode!
  1. It's highly customizable. You might be thinking that Tailwind sounds great but you don't want to be limited by the colors, spacing, or other utilities. The great new is that you don't have to be. Tailwind takes a configuration file that lets you modify existing properties and also add new ones.

If you don't like the color of text-indigo-500, you can change it. Have your own branding? Create a set of new colors that work for you. Almost everything about the framework can be changed and you can add in any other styles that are missing. Extending the configuration works really well with tools like Figma where designers can set up complex palettes that can be implemented in the Tailwind config.

There's also a wide array of plugins that can be used to add more styles and functionality to your Tailwind instance. Who knows, maybe you could have an idea for the next great Tailwind plugin.

  1. No bloat in production. The Tailwind configuration can be set to purge unused classes in any files or globs that you provide when run in production. This means that even if you don't ever use 90% of Tailwind's (or your own from a custom configuration), they won't ever slow down your site because they won't exist in the production build of your app.

Final Thoughts

While there's many more reasons I could go over, I highly encourage you to check out their documentation and see it for yourself. Be prepared that you might need to consult the documentation for bit as you familiarize yourself with the syntax but I guarantee that the more you use it, the more you'll like it.