Getting Started with Tailwind CSS

Getting Started with Tailwind CSS


3 min read

Tailwind CSS has emerged as a game-changer in the world of web development, offering a utility-first approach to styling web applications. This framework simplifies the process of creating custom designs without the hassle of writing tons of custom CSS.

What is Tailwind CSS

Tailwind CSS is a utility-first CSS framework for rapidly building custom user interfaces. It is different from traditional CSS frameworks like Bootstrap, which offer predefined components. Instead, Tailwind provides low-level utility classes that enable you to build completely custom designs without ever leaving your HTML.

<button class="bg-blue-500 hover:bg-blue-700 text-white font-bold py-2 px-4 rounded">
  Click me

Like: This snippet creates a button with blue background, rounded corners, and hover effect.

Why Tailwind CSS is Helpful

Utility-First Approach

Utility classes are small, single-purpose classes that each handle a specific style or layout function. For example, a utility class might set the margin, change the text color, or adjust padding. In Tailwind CSS, you'll find classes like .text-center for centering text, .bg-red-500 for applying a specific shade of red as a background color, or .mt-4 for adding margin to the top.

This approach encourages a more efficient way of building designs, as you can see the styling changes immediately without flipping back and forth between your HTML and CSS files.

Responsiveness and Customization

Tailwind uses predefined screen size prefixes (sm, md, lg, xl, 2xl) that you can prepend to almost any utility class to apply that style at a specific breakpoint. These breakpoints are customizable but come with sensible defaults.

For example:

sm: for small screens (640px and up)

md: for medium screens (768px and up)

lg: for large screens (1024px and up)

xl: for extra-large screens (1280px and up)

2xl: for 2x extra-large screens (1536px and up)

<div class="text-base md:text-lg lg:text-xl">
    This text will adjust its size according to the screen width.

With built-in responsive modifiers and extensive customization capabilities, Tailwind makes it easy to create responsive designs and tailor them to your project's needs. It's highly configurable, allowing you to define your colour palette, fonts, breakpoints, and more.

Readability and Maintenance

While the utility-first concept might seem verbose at first, it leads to more readable HTML. Also, since Tailwind encourages the use of reusable components, it significantly aids in maintaining a consistent design across your application.

Getting Started with Tailwind CSS


Getting Started with Tailwind CSS, install Tailwind via npm:

npm install tailwindcss


Next, create a Tailwind config file:

npx tailwindcss init

This command generates a tailwind.config.js file where you can customize your design system.

Including in Your CSS

In your CSS file, use Tailwind's @tailwind directives to inject Tailwind's base, components, and utilities styles:

@tailwind base;
@tailwind components;
@tailwind utilities;

Sample HTML

Here’s a basic example of using Tailwind CSS in HTML:

<button class="bg-blue-500 hover:bg-blue-700 text-white font-bold py-2 px-4 rounded">
  Click me

This snippet creates a button with blue background, rounded corners, and hover effect.

Potential Drawbacks

Learning Curve: For those used to traditional CSS writing, there's a learning curve to getting accustomed to the utility-first approach.

Verbose HTML: Your HTML can become quite verbose with many utility classes, which might be off-putting for some developers.

Customization Limitation: While Tailwind CSS is highly customizable, there might be cases where a specific design need doesn't align neatly with available utility classes, requiring additional custom CSS.

Further Resources

Official Documentation: The Tailwind CSS Documentation is an excellent place to start. It’s comprehensive and well-organized, perfect for both beginners and advanced users.

Tailwind UI: For pre-designed components and templates, check out Tailwind UI. It’s a great resource to kickstart your projects.

Tailwind CSS stands out for its utility-first approach, ease of customization, and its ability to streamline the web development process. Happy styling with Tailwind CSS!