CSS Frameworks for 2020: Overview and Comparison – Part 1

CSS Frameworks for 2020: Overview and Comparison – Part 1

CSS frameworks often make it easier to develop websites. There are so many frameworks now that it’s time for a small overview to draw comparisons. That’s why there are 19 trendy CSS frameworks for 2020. We’ll discuss 9 CSS frameworks in this article.

CSS Frameworks for 2020: Overview and Comparison – Part 2

Use CSS frameworks or develop them by hand?

Whether you should even use a “finished” CSS framework for the development of websites can be discussed extensively. Some consider these front-end toolkits to be indispensable and time-saving. Other developers, on the other hand, believe that CSS frameworks will eventually make all websites look the same. Both opinions are comprehensible and somehow everyone is right in their own way. What matters, however, is what comes out of it in the end. Some of these front-end frameworks may bring more than you might need. And not all features can be easily deselected as a result.

It can’t hurt to take a look at the CSS frameworks that are currently trending. The State of CSS annually determines the most popular CSS frameworks in a survey. So what’s in demand and what else there is for “newcomers” we look at it below.

Bootstrap CSS Framework

Making the start Bootstrap, so to speak, the “place deer” among the CSS frameworks. The front-end framework, created by Twitter in 2011, is provided free of charge with an open-source license. Included a variety of components for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The developers emphasize that Bootstrap is suitable for the creation of responsive and mobile-first websites.

The documentation is very detailed. There is also a wealth of modifications and customizations on the part of the community that extends, complements, or optimizes the CSS framework. Many website themes work under the bootstrap hood.

Grid system: 12 columns
Responsive Breakpoints:576px, 768px, 992px and 1200px
File size:approx. 156 kB (Framework komplett, minimiert)
JavaScript:jQuery + bootstrap.bundle.min.js (approx. 79 kB with full functionality)
Documentation:Extensive online documentation with many examples
Features:Alerts, Badge, Breadcrumb, Buttons, Button group, Card, Carousel, Collapse, Dropdowns, Forms, Input group, Jumbotron, List group, Media object, Modal, Navs, Navbar, Pagination, Popovers, Progress, Scrollspy, Spinners, Toasts, Tooltips
Specifics:Utilities, build tools, community extensions/examples

Quick reference of the Bootstrap CSS framework

Foundation CSS Framework

Bootstrap or Foundation? While the history of the CSS frameworks is relatively short, both systems have enjoyed great popularity since their release in 2011. The reason for this is probably, among other things, the enormous range of functions.

In terms of popularity, Foundation nowadays doesn’t seem to be quite Bootstrap approached. However, this fact does not have to be a disadvantage. Foundation also consists of components that extend or limit the range of functions. While Bootstrap can be used to quickly implement web interfaces, Foundation has certain advantages when it comes to the complete control of website customizations. Also, the “Motion UI” framework has an animation library that is already integrated into the so-called starter templates.

Although Foundation is widely touted as a slim alternative, for example, the code with version 6 has been significantly detoxified, it is still important to be careful: If you ignore all the gadgets that the system offers, the total size of the JavaScript file grows to up to 489 kB.

Grid system:12 columns
Responsive Breakpoints:Small, Medium (640px) and Large (1024px)
File size:approx. 142 kB (framework complete, minimized)
JavaScript:jQuery + foundation.min.js (approx. 479 kB with full functionality)
Documentation:Extensive online documentation with videos and examples
Features:Abide, Accordion, Accordion Menu, Badge, Breadcrumbs, Button, Callout, Close Button, Drilldown Menu, Dropdown Menu, Dropdown Pane, Equalizer, Flex Grid, Responsive Embed, Float Classes, Forms, Grid, Interchange, Label, Magellan, Media Object, Menu, Off-canvas, Orbit, Pagination, Progress Bar, Responsive Menu, Responsive Toggle, Reveal, Slider, Sticky, Switch, Table, Tabs, Thumbnail, Title Bar, Tog
Specifics:Motion UI, Build tools

Quick reference of the Foundation CSS framework

Materialize CSS

Whoever Material Design System may also like the CMS framework Materialize CSS To find. It is based on Google’s design language and therefore offers many features that are tailored to material design. These include animated button effects, cards, parallax backgrounds, or page navigation.

Grid system:12 columns
Responsive Breakpoints:600px, 992px, 1200px
File size:approx. 139 kB (framework complete, minimized)
JavaScript:jQuery + materialize.min.js (approx. 177 kB with complete range of functions)
Documentation:Extensive online documentation with examples
Features:Auto Init, Badges, Breadcrumbs, Buttons, Cards, Carousel, Collapsible, Collections, Dropdown, FeatureDiscovery, Floating Action Button, Footer, Icons, Modals, Navbar, Pagination, Preloader, Pushpin, Scrollspy, Tabs, Tooltips, Waves
Specifics:Material Design Elements

A brief overview of the Materialize CSS framework

Materialize Design Lite

Materialize Design Lite brings the “Look and Feel” of Material Design to existing pages. To do this, you simply integrate the CSS and JavaScript files into the website and then have the option to use components and styles.

Materialize Design Lite is, by the way, a CSS collection, which is initiated and operated by Google itself. Among other things, some of the Google Services Pages are implemented with this system.

The Update of the CMS framework is a long time ago. Nevertheless, one should take a look.

Grid system:12 columns
Responsive Breakpoints:479px, 839px, 840px
File size:approx. 137 kB (Framework komplett, minimiert)
JavaScript:material.min.js (approx. 62 kB with a complete range of functions)
Documentation:Extensive online documentation with examples
Features:Badges, Buttons, Cards, Chips, Dialogs, Layout, Lists, Loading, Menus, Sliders, Snackbar, Toggles, Tables, Text Fields, Tooltips
Specifics:Material Design Components from Google

Quick Reference Materialize Design Lite CSS Framework

Tailwind CSS Framework

The CSS framework has been designed from the ground up to be very adaptable. Unlike other front-end systems, Tailwind CSS does not have a whole load full of prefabricated components on board. You can create them yourself by combining CSS classes. How this works is explained simply by the animated graphic on the Tailwind website. In the example of Buttons, a button, therefore, consists of about 7 CSS classes. Each adds a different property.

This combination of CSS classes makes the CSS framework quite adaptable. Of course, it must also be mentioned that these methods shift the ratio of “text to code” more towards the code. Nevertheless, Tailwind seems to be well received by developers.

According to a survey by The State of CSS, 81% of users of the CSS framework are satisfied and would use Tailwind for other projects. This is also the top score in the 2019 ranking.

The size of the CSS file initially appears to be about 695 kB (unpacked). However, Tailwind puts some Methods with which one can counteract this. By reducing the 93(!) Colors can be more than halved in size.

Grid system:12 columns
Responsive Breakpoints:640px, 768px, 1024px, 1280px
File size:approx. 695 kB (Framework komplett, minimiert)
JavaScript:depending on the project
Documentation:Extensive online documentation with examples
Features:Components are generated by combining CSS classes
Specifics:Modern CSS framework with a fresh approach

Quick reference Tailwind CSS Framework

Bulma CSS Framework

Bulma is also a free open-source CSS framework. It is based on Flexbox and is used by more than 200,000 developers. The CSS framework does not require JavaScript “only use what you really need”, the system can be adapted accordingly. A modern, sleek grid system provides flexible layouts. Since the framework was released in 2016 and uses newer CSS techniques, “legacy” in the code can be largely dispensed with.

When it comes to satisfaction, Bulma currently ranks 2nd with a 74% Ranking by The State of CSS. Only Tailwind comes up with an even better response to the expert survey when it comes to CSS frameworks.

Grid system:12 columns
Responsive Breakpoints:960px, 1152px, 1344px
File size:approx. 189 kB (Framework komplett, minimiert)
Documentation:Extensive online documentation with examples
Features:Box, Breadcrumb, Button, Card, Content, Delete, Dropdown, Icon, Image, Menu, Message, Modal, Navbar, Notification, Pagination, Panel, Progress bars, Tab, Table, Tag, Titles
Specifics:Modern CSS framework based on Flexbox, which does not require JavaScript

Quick Reference Bulma CSS Framework

Semantic UI

Semantic UI is a CMS framework created by New York web developer Jack Lukic. In terms of structure, the system could be Bootstrap Compare. Semantic UI also offers many predefined components. However, an essential feature of the CMS framework is adaptability. In addition to the 50 elements, more than 3,000 variables are available for let-out. This customizability also allows you to create completely your own themes.

However, the last update of Semantic UI was some time ago. Whether there have been serious changes to the front-end framework can be found on the GitHub page about the project.

Grid system:16 columns
Responsive Breakpoints:768px, 992px, 1200px
File size:approx. 613 kB (Framework komplett, minimiert)
JavaScript:semantic.js (approx. 269 kB) + components
Documentation:Extensive online documentation with examples
Features:Breadcrumb, Button, Card, Comment, Container, Divider, Feed, Form, Grid, Header, Image, Label, List, Loader, Menu, Message, Placeholder, Rail, Reveal, Segment, Step, Table
Specifics:Adjustable CMS framework with 3,000 variables

Semantic UI Framework Quick Reference

Uikit Framework

The Uikit was developed with the idea to design Joomla and WordPress themes. In any case, the Hamburg developer uses YOOtheme this self-wrapped framework for your own themes. Since 2013, UiKit has been available as an Open Source to download.

The front-end framework offers a variety of components. Working with UIkit will also include practical Autocomplete plugins for the text editors Sublime Text 3, Atom, and Visual Studio Code provided free of charge.

Grid system:12 columns
Responsive Breakpoints:480px, 768px, 960px, 1200px
File size:approx. 258 kB (Framework komplett, minimiert)
JavaScript:uikit.min.js (approx. 131 kB with full functionality) + icons
Documentation:Extensive online documentation with examples (without search function)
Features:Alert, Animation, Article, Badge, Block, Breadcrumb, Button, Close, Column, Comment, Contrast, Cover, Description list, Dropdown, Flex, Form, Grid, Icon, JavaScript, List, Modal, Nav, Navbar, Off-canvas, Overlay, Pagination, Panel, Scrollspy, Smooth scroll, Subnav, Switcher, Tab, Table, Text, Thumbnail, Thumbnav, Toggle, Utility
Specifics:Open-source framework with many components

Uikit Framework Quick Reference

Pure CSS

Pure CSS is a sleek framework developed by Yahoo. The basic structure, grids, forms, buttons, tables, and menus can be integrated separately. This, therefore, ensures a very small file size. Also, all elements together weigh just 17 kB (unpacked). If you want to use specific areas in a targeted manner, you can reduce the size even further.

The CSS framework has been on the hump for several years and was last updated a few months ago. The components cover the most important areas (and no longer). Here, one confines oneself to the essentials and offers space to integrate one’s own developments.

However, the small file size is not to be underestimated as the advantage of Pure CSS. With “67% Satisfaction” Pure CSS comes in 3rd place in terms of satisfaction in the 2019 CSS Ranking.

Grid system:5 and 24 columns
Responsive Breakpoints:568px, 768px, 1024px, 1280px
File size:approx. 17 kB (Framework komplett, minimiert)
JavaScript:none (Vanilla JavaScript possible)
Documentation:Extensive online documentation with examples (without search function)
Features:Base, Grids, Forms, Buttons, Tables, Menus
Specifics:A very slim CSS framework

Quick reference Pure CSS Framework


Those who have an alternative to Bootstrap Or Foundation will certainly discover corresponding CSS frameworks in this list. When it comes to a large range of functions, for example, Bulma and Tailwind as trendy systems.

But also smaller CSS frameworks such as Milligram or Pure CSS have their appeal – especially if the corresponding developer is more interested in a responsive basic framework instead of an “all-round carefree solution”.

In principle, however, one should ask one another whether CSS frameworks seem reasonable for the planned project. After all, you can build up a responsive grid yourself. The file size can of course be significantly reduced. So weighing up is the order of the day. Perhaps this overview of CSS frameworks will help.

CSS Frameworks for 2020: Overview and Comparison – Part 2


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