Tailwind CSS Review: First Impressions of Tailwind and Next.js

Tailwind CSS Review: First Impressions of Tailwind and Next.js

As customers increasingly demand more visually appealing designs, enterprises rely on new technologies, libraries, and frameworks to meet these demands. With that, they can develop better branding, have higher customer engagement, and develop feature-rich applications.

According to the 2020 State of CSS report, Tailwind CSS has seen a rise in usage and awareness, with 80% of respondents aware of it, compared with 34% in 2019. Tailwind CSS is a utility-first CSS that helps provide rich, scalable, and engaging web applications that are extremely fast and reliable.

In this article, you’ll learn about Tailwind CSS, what makes it unique, and why you should use it for your Next.js web application.

What Is Tailwind CSS?

Tailwind CSS is a utility-first CSS framework that offers an extensive library of CSS classes and tools for rapidly developing and styling custom user interfaces. Tailwind focuses on how the product should be displayed rather than the functionality. It provides a variety of CSS classes, each with its specific purpose. It simplifies the development process so the developer can test out new styles and layouts with ease.

Essentially, you won't have to worry about cascading styles or overriding the 10-selector pileup that has plagued several applications. For instance, if you want to build a .btn class, rather than assigning it a bunch of CSS attributes right away, Tailwind CSS directly applies a set of classes such as bg-blue-500 px-4 rounded to the button element or adds utility classes to the selector.

Tailwind is the perfect CSS framework to add inline styling without ever writing a line of CSS. There are no built-in UI components or themes in Tailwind CSS. Instead, it provides prebuilt widgets that you can use to start building your site from scratch.

Features & Benefits of Tailwind CSS

Utility-First CSS

Tailwind CSS takes care of naming classes for you. A general utility pattern can solve several problems, including creating classes, arranging them, cascading them, and more. Custom components are easier to implement using utility classes. Tailwind CSS requires no hard-coding; you can use the theme() function to retrieve values from configuration files.

Component-First

By default, Tailwind forces developers to think in terms of components. Because of that, things become less complex and less repetitive. You can do this because it doesn't take that much space. The fact is, it’s easier to read and remember styles when broken down into small components. The components-based approach makes them easy to read and remember.

Customizability

As far as styling web applications go, Tailwind is distinct from other CSS frameworks because it doesn't have a default theme. Even if you use the same elements such as colors, sizes, themes, you can give each project a different look. Other CSS frameworks like Material UI provide custom designs and themes for rapidly styling applications. However, they can be very tedious to customize.

Tailwind CSS is a very rare CSS framework that doesn't dictate how you should style your project. With a tailwind.config.js file, you can override its default configuration. You can customize color palettes, styling, fonts, spacing, etc., with the configuration file. Tailwind provides a set of user-friendly utilities to facilitate project management and enhance user satisfaction.

Faster CSS Styling

When it comes to styling HTML, Tailwind is faster than any other framework. By styling elements directly, you can make good-looking layouts easily. Tailwind's built-in classes allow developers to avoid coding designs from scratch because there are thousands of built-in classes. 

Consequently, there is no need to write CSS rules yourself. Using these classes is one of the main reasons Tailwind makes building and styling so quick. 

Flexible Layout For Building Complex Interfaces

Tailwind CSS is a mobile-first framework. You can effortlessly build complex and responsive layouts with utility classes. You can build responsive layouts of any complexity using utility classes, even at multiple breakpoints.

Vibrant Community

Do you have an unsolvable problem? Tailwind CSS has a vibrant community of developers across several channels. If you need help, you will receive comprehensive assistance from other members of this community. You can easily find answers to your CSS questions at any time and build incredible applications and websites. 

Responsiveness and Security

Tailwind CSS is a great application to build responsible, mobile-first interfaces. With it, developers have the perfect tool to ensure maximum responsiveness. It lets you build responsive themes for your web apps, and it cleans up all unused CSS classes. Tailwind prevents your final CSS from being too large by using PurgeCSS. Since its release, Tailwind has proved to be an extremely reliable framework.

Optimizable 

The primary advantage of Tailwind CSS is how well you can optimize it with PurgeCSS. Using PurgeCSS, you can significantly reduce the file size by removing unused classes from the HTML. Setting up Tailwind CSS in conjunction with PurgeCSS is easy and highly recommended before you deploy.

In most CSS frameworks, as the project size grows, so does the CSS file size. Tailwind is an exception. As long as the project remains active, the file size becomes smaller using a standardized set of classes.

Building Web Applications With Next.js and Tailwind CSS

Next.js is a React JavaScript that enables you to develop fast, user-friendly applications by combining server-side rendering with statically created pages. With websites and applications that do not load within 3 seconds, digital interaction and brand traffic suffer drastically. 

According to a Google study in 2017, the probability of a bounce goes up by 32% when the page load time goes from one to three seconds. It's reasonable to assume that these numbers have gone up since then. When your page takes a long time to load, you can expect users to lose interest and focus.

Some reasons for using Next.js include speed, performance, and scalability. These factors play a large part in delivering highly performant, scalable, successful applications. 

Benefits of Next.js

The benefits of Next.js are great for any enterprise looking to build a new SPA application. The following are a few of its core benefits:

  • Server-Side rendering (SSR): Next.js enables rendering on the server-side. It means users can view HTML content directly on the user-facing application at once since it loads everything from the server. For this reason, the user perceives the loading time as being much shorter. In addition, SSR gives you the benefit of search engine optimization (SEO) by having the search engines index and crawl the website directly since no client-side JavaScript is required.

  • Automatic code splitting: Whenever necessary, Next.js only loads the JavaScript and CSS relevant to the current page. As a result, page loading times are significantly faster since the browser does not have to download JavaScript and CSS that's not necessary to render the page.

  • Hot module replacement (HMR): This is less of an issue for end-users, but it is crucial for developers. Any changes you make during development are immediately visible in production with HMR. Therefore, it preserves the integrity of the application and drastically reduces the time required for changes to take effect as opposed to traditional "live reload" methods. As a result, there is a positive impact on clients as less time is spent on development due to development efficiencies.

Get Started With Tailwind CSS

Building a custom UI framework means you cannot abstract away common elements like buttons, forms, cards, and navbars like you typically would. That is where Tailwind CSS comes in. By combining the unique capabilities of Next.js and Tailwind CSS, you can deliver rich, engaging user interfaces with exceptional scalability and performance.

You can add Tailwind CSS to your Next.js application by running the following command in your CLI:

//with npm
npm install -D tailwindcss@latest postcss@latest autoprefixer@latest

//with yarn:
yarn add tailwindcss

The following block of code is a simple Tailwind CSS implementation of a card using utility classes:

<div class="bg-regal-blue rounded shadow border p-4 w-64">
  <h5 class="text-3xl font-bold p-4 mb-4 bg-light mt-2">Hello World</h5>
  <p class="text-gray-500 text-sm">Welcome to Tailwind</p>
</div>

Crafter CMS: Building Rich Content Experiences with Next.js and Tailwind CSS

Crafter CMS is a Git-based headless CMS that provides an API-first repository of content accessible via several APIs like REST and GraphQL. Crafter continuously explores new ways to enhance content and user experiences and help the global community create visually appealing websites and applications. That means leveraging several feature-rich applications and integrations to meet user demand and remain competitive.

Tailwind CSS is a comprehensive CSS framework for building custom and complex applications with visually appealing UI. By combining the unique capabilities of Next.js, Tailwind CSS, and Crafter CMS, you can create uniquely beautiful web applications with high scalability, performance, and customizability.

Are you interested in building Next.js and Tailwind CSS applications on a headless CMS platform? Get started by reading about the Crafter Engine APIs. And check out the Crafter Studio APIs to customize your content authoring experience.


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Mike Vertal

Mike Vertal

Mike Vertal brings over 20 years of operational, technical and executive leadership experience to Crafter Software. Over the course of his career, Mike has served in executive positions at leading software and services companies. Mike holds BSEE and MSEE degrees from Case Western Reserve University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.