CSS frameworks are tools that UI designers use to make their work easier. Instead of starting from scratch, frameworks allow developers to swiftly create user interfaces that can be changed and iterated throughout a project. The basic purpose of the CSS framework is to bring a more standardized practice for web development. They're helpful for larger projects, bigger teams, and those who need to design a theme that can be used on multiple projects. 

CSS framework is a set of prepared and ready-to-use CSS stylesheets. They're designed for typical tasks like putting up navbars and are frequently enhanced with other technologies like SASS and JavaScript. CSS frameworks provide more than just time savings. Frameworks deliver standards to teams with multiple developers, especially larger ones. Frameworks standardize layouts and allow one developer to readily comprehend another developer’s code, rather than each developer writing the code by himself from the beginning for each project, making their work hectic and tedious. This saves time and ensures a smoother development cycle with fewer defects and improved team communication. 

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CSS Framework

There are numerous CSS frameworks available, and all of them are incredibly beneficial. Though it is difficult to select a good framework from the several available options, here are a few common and popular frameworks you can choose from.

1. Bootstrap

Bootstrap has a very nice responsive design, due to which it is regarded as one of the best CSS frameworks. It was created by Twitter and first launched in 2011.

Bootstrap is a powerful front-end framework for building modern web pages and web applications. It is open-source and free to use. However, it comes with many HTML and CSS templates for UI elements like buttons and forms. Bootstrap also supports JavaScript extensions. Bootstrap uses SASS variables and mixins for theming, a responsive grid system for layout, pre-built components for design patterns, and JS plugins for user interaction.

Advantages of Bootstrap

  • It is a fully responsive framework; responsiveness is a major reason many developers prefer Bootstrap over its competitors.
  • Bootstrap has a strong developer community and is one of the best-documented frameworks available.
  • Bootstrap is a grid-based CSS framework that creates a multi-column layout with predefined pixel widths, allowing us to focus on content creation rather than text alignment. 
  • Bootstrap has a well-maintained and well-tested codebase; developers utilizing it will seldom run into browser compatibility difficulties.
  • LESS and SASS are two of the most common preprocessors used in Bootstrap's code.
  • It is a good framework in terms of usage and popularity, and it saves a lot of time. It has a relatively short learning curve.

Disadvantages of Bootstrap

  • The web pages or front-ends created with Bootstrap seem very similar, and Bootstrap's flexibility is limited.
  • Due to the vast number of modules loaded in Bootstrap, CSS projects have a large build size. We can't pick and choose whatever components we want; we will have to change the codebase at our own risk to get rid of them.

Bootstrap 4 vs. Bootstrap 3

Bootstrap 4 is the most recent version of the Bootstrap framework. It became the first choice for developers because it has new SASS variables for global styling and easy theming, bringing new dimensions for developers in building projects.

Except for Internet Explorer 9 and below, Bootstrap 4 is compatible with all major browsers. To support these older browsers, tests are being performed so that these features can be easily implemented in more devices.

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2. Tailwind CSS

Tailwind CSS is a utility-first CSS framework that differs from other top CSS frameworks like Bulma and Bootstrap. Tailwind CSS provides pre-designed components that may be used as a foundation for subsequent development. It does not come with a pre-made design, but it allows us to include our own personal style rapidly.

Advantages of Tailwind CSS

  • It allows developers to implement unique designs.
  • With Tailwind CSS, we can use libraries like Purge CSS to reduce the CSS build size substantially.
  • It works at a lower level by giving a developer a set of CSS helper classes.
  • Tailwind is designed to be component friendly and encourages breaking down into smaller reusable components, so it has a lower cognitive load.

Disadvantages of Tailwind

  • Tailwind alone makes it challenging to create complex animations.

  • Because there are so many classes for styling, readability can be a problem for certain developers.

3. Foundation

Another excellent CSS framework is Foundation. HTML, CSS, SASS, and Javascript are part of this powerful front-end CSS framework. It is best suited for large web applications that require a design host. It was built with a mobile-first approach and is very responsive. It is often called “The most advanced responsive front-end framework in the world.”

Advantages of Foundation

  • Foundation is designed to provide front-end developers complete control over their user interfaces.
  • Easy to understand and readable code.
  • Foundation is made up of lightweight, scalable components with minimal design and easy customization.

Disadvantages of Foundation

  • Because Foundation features rely on Javascript, it is incompatible with React and Angular applications.
  • It has several features and is more complex than other frameworks. It provides a lot of versatility when it comes to developing front-end templates.

4. Bulma

Bulma is another great flexbox-based CSS framework. It's an open-source CSS library that is 100 percent responsive and comes with several pre-configured components. Bulma creates Metro-style grids with a method called tiles, which makes the website look sleek and smooth. It has a lightweight framework that allows us to import only the elements we need for our current web design.

Advantages of Bulma

  • Most browsers are compatible with Bulma-designed websites. This makes developers’ work easier, particularly when conducting cross-browser testing.
  • It is a framework independent of the environment and sits on top of the logic layer.
  • The syntax of Bulma is quite simple and easy to use.

Disadvantages of Bulma

  • There isn't a large developer community for Bulma.
  • On the Internet Explorer web browser, it performs sluggishly.

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How to Choose the Right CSS Framework for a Project?

Frameworks for CSS are fantastic. They help us to get off to a good start when building a new site by providing structured code that ensures our site is responsive, solid, and practical with no work.

In the modern era, with increasing digitalization, everyone wants to ensure their presence on the internet, which has led to the development of many websites with a lot of pages. Using a pre-built framework or structure can help us with the day-to-day labor of website architecture. So while choosing a framework, we must keep certain points in consideration, as discussed in the next section:

What Type of Framework Do We Need?

To begin, we must have some knowledge of our website. Is it even necessary to have a system? Structures are beneficial to most locations with a large number of pages. The ideal amount of pages can change, but if we find ourselves repeating the same HTML, CSS, or even JavaScript on one of our pages, a layout or structure can help.

  • Framework Language

We should be familiar with the computer language(s) that our framework employs. As previously stated, some simple frameworks are nothing more than basic HTML templates, while more complicated frameworks may include CSS and JavaScript. Some frameworks construct the CSS using LESS or SASS, while others utilize Ruby or other computer languages to compile the pages once they're built. It will be challenging to build our framework if we are unfamiliar with the language(s) it employs.

  • Framework Features

A CSS framework, often known as a web framework, is a collection of web-based tools, libraries, and best practices. A CSS framework can be as simple as a one-page template that serves as the foundation for all of our site's pages, or it can be a complicated collection of CSS, HTML, JavaScript, and server-side programs and files that govern the entire site architecture.

  • Whether the Framework is Customizable and Modular

Customizable frameworks allow us to add our own code to make our site look unique and different from other websites. However, if a framework is overly customized, its benefits are lost, and it will be better to start from scratch.

Advantages of CSS Framework

  • Speeds up our development.
  • Enables cross-border functionality.
  • Gives us clean and symmetrical layouts.

Disadvantages of CSS Framework

  • The CSS framework has a standard set of grids, selectors, and other code. It limits what we can design.
  • If we're already comfortable and effective with one method of designing and programming and are compelled to use a CSS framework we're unfamiliar with, we may end up wasting time.
  • We will inevitably find code in a CSS framework that we don't need. It's quite improbable that we'll use all of a framework's features. As a result, we're stuck with superfluous code.
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Although numerous CSS frameworks are available, they all provide comparable functionality in different ways and with diverse designs. When choosing a framework as a developer, we must consider more than simply the visual aspect. 

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