Checking Tailwind CSS

One of the things on my side project that I felt iffy for some time is the UI toolkit. I have gathered notes, links, fonts, but I have held back from actually trying anything so far. I wanted to first have a robust setup that would allow me to add functionality, frontend and backend. Having that more or less in place, the goal that I had set for this sprint was to look for a UI toolkit. I have recently heard about Tailwind CSS on “The Art of Product” podcast and I made a note to take a look at it.

This is my first contact with a “functional CSS” library. I have stumbled upon the concept a couple of times, I think it was Tachyons, but it didn’t appeal enough to dive deeper. So before I try it I wanted to first see how is it properly done, so I went through a couple of screencasts on their website. The first impression was “Wow! Pretty smooth.” So for the next couple of morning I went through all of the lessons.

After that I went through their docs, and tried to imagine how would I fit it within the project. I like the idea to have a single CSS file—The Library®—for the whole website, and not have custom CSS files. I can, but I don’t have to write custom CSS files, and this feels super releaving after years of “classical” frontend development, where I have CSS files, and I have the other code referencing classes in it, and slowly but surely the CSS files would grow into a hairy and unmaintainable mess that is giving me shivers…

So my idea is to have the styling and layout done with utility classes only, and not have any custom CSS files at all. I will disconsider the performance implications of that for now, and only focus on maintainability.

I also like that it gives me the option to not have CSS processing/compilation part of my development cycle. I have the base CSS file compiled from their NPM package, and from then on I only juggle the classes in my React code.

Other notable thing that I liked is the support for theme configuration, integration with PostCSS and PurgeCSS, and the intellisense plugin for VSCode. I love how they try to give a nice development experience.

Overall, the screencasts, the docs, and everything else around Tailwind CSS left me with the impression that They Know What They’re Doing®. As a bonus, the community seems good too. A quick googling gave me TailwindComponents.com and TailwindToolbox.com which are both free, and there is also their commercial offering TailwindUI.com which I am very tempted to try.

I have already created a Git branch, began wiring everything up, and I’m excited to see what can I do with it. I’ll post more updates as I learn.