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20 August 2023

Tailwind CSS with Next.js

Irelia Codeheart, Senior Developer

Setting up Tailwind CSS with Next.js: Basics and Beyond

In this section, we're going to dive into the technicalities of setting up Tailwind CSS with your Next.js project, showing you everything from the creation of a new project and installation of dependencies to advanced customization options.

Initial steps: Creating a Next.js project and Tailwind CSS installation

To get started, you'll need to create a new Next.js project by running the following command in your terminal:

npx create-next-app@latest my-app

Here, my-app is the name of your Next.js application.

Next, navigate into your new project directory and install the Tailwind CSS dependencies with:

cd my-app
npm install -D tailwindcss@latest postcss@latest autoprefixer@latest

These commands will ensure you have your Next.js project set up and all the Tailwind CSS dependencies are installed.

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Configuring Tailwind CSS for Next.js: Paths and Directives

After dependencies are installed, create a Tailwind configuration file using the Tailwind CLI utility included when you installed the tailwindcss plugin by running:

npx tailwindcss init -p

This will generate a tailwind.config.js and a postcss.config.js file in your root directory.

Open your tailwind.config.js file and ensure the purge array is set up to clean up any unused styles:

module.exports = {
  purge: ['./pages/**/*.{js,ts,jsx,tsx}', './components/**/*.{js,ts,jsx,tsx}'],
  darkMode: false, // or 'media' or 'class'
  theme: {
    extend: {},
  variants: {
    extend: {},
  plugins: [],

Next, you need to include Tailwind in your CSS by importing it in your /styles/globals.css file using the @import directive:

@import 'tailwindcss/base';
@import 'tailwindcss/components';
@import 'tailwindcss/utilities';

Build process and utility classes: Running the project and Styling the content

With everything set up, you can now start your Next.js development server and see Tailwind CSS in action:

npm run dev

Now you can utilize Tailwind CSS utility classes to style your elements. For instance, to apply a background color, you would add the class bg-purple-500 to an element:

<div class="bg-purple-500">
  Hello, Tailwind!

The bg-purple-500 class sets the background color to a specific shade of purple, as defined by Tailwind CSS's color palette.

Customizing your setup: Tailwind CSS Variant Configuration

Tailwind CSS customization goes beyond just styling. Tailwind allows you to customize its configuration file to create custom variants or extend its default configuration. For instance, to add a custom variant for filter, open the tailwind.config.js file and append to the variants property something like:

module.exports = {
  variants: {
    extend: {
+      filter: ['hover', 'focus'],

This modification means you can now use hover:filter or focus:filter classes in your HTML. It's a powerful example of how Tailwind allows for significant control over the CSS of your application.

This initial setup and introduction to tailor-made configurations can be the start of a very streamlined, optimized, and efficient development process when working with Tailwind CSS in your Next.js projects.

Scrutinizing Tailwind CSS in Next.js: Advantages, Disadvantages, and Comparisons

Control Vs Complexity: Parsing the Pros and Cons of Tailwind CSS

Tailwind CSS in Next.js serves numerous advantages for developers. It furnishes a utility-first methodology. Basically, this implies each utility has a single role, producing explicit outcomes each time. This precision in coding and design elevates consistency and responsiveness in applications. Another significant advantage is the vast customization options it provides, empowering developers to adapt styles according to the needs of individual projects.

However, one needs to consider the complexity attached to using Tailwind CSS. It has a steep learning curve, and developers embarking on large- scale projects may find the extensive array of classes and utilities daunting initially.

Decoding Tailwind CSS and NextUI: A Comparative Analysis

Comparing Tailwind CSS and Next UI, it becomes evident that both tools provide dynamic functionalities to develop state-of-the-art, server-rendered React applications. The decision to use one over the other is subjective to project type and developer's preference.

On one hand, Tailwind CSS is often favored for its utility-first approach, giving the developers high control to build intricate designs with a great degree of flexibility. On the other hand, Next UI's simplicity of application is unmatched. It is a golden goose for developers looking to rapidly design and deploy user interfaces with minimal configuration.

Impacts on Performance: HTML Sizes, Learning Curve, and Installation Requirements

The performance of Next.js enhanced by Tailwind CSS is also an area deserving attention. Firstly, the HTML size might increase with the utility-first approach, but optimization tools like PurgeCSS mitigate this issue, maintaining performance immaculately even in large-sized projects.

Secondly, regarding the learning curve and installation requirements, intelligibly, Next.js with Tailwind CSS requires a good grasp of JavaScript, CSS, and some understanding of server-rendered React applications. Over time, it becomes intuitively easy and remarkably productive.

In summary, to put into perspective the benefits of using Next.js with Tailwind CSS, one must consider several factors. Control over design, utility-first approach, performance optimization, and customization options definitely place it at an advantageous position. However, the complexity involved and the steeper learning curve can't be overlooked. Comparatively, Next UI's simplicity may appeal to some, but it lacks the high control and flexibility served by Tailwind CSS.

Tailwind CSS: A Deep Dive into the Performance and Comparison with Other CSS Frameworks

This section will measure Tailwind CSS against other CSS frameworks to provide a comprehensive understanding of its performance, functionality, and unique features. With real-world usage in well-known companies such as GitHub, Shopify, and Algolia, Tailwind's utility-first approach has proven to be of value in Next.js projects.

A Straightforward Comparison: Tailwind CSS and Stylify

Tailwind CSS leans heavily on utility classes, removing the need for custom CSS most times. This approach allows developers to define styles directly in their markup, leading to an increase in productivity. In contrast, Stylify leans more towards a combination of both traditional CSS and utility classes.

From a performance point of view, Tailwind CSS's Just-In-Time (JIT) engine only includes the CSS used in your files, resulting in a much smaller file size. This drastically helps with loading speeds, making it a good match for Next.js’s server-side rendering power.

The latest update in Tailwind CSS introduced a new changelog template called Commit and a major redesign of components in the Tailwind UI, enhancing the experience of developers.

Pros and Cons in Focus: Tailwind CSS and Master Styles

Master Styles, like Tailwind CSS, comes with a rich set of utilities and components out of the box. However, Tailwind CSS provides more in-depth customization options and a more comprehensive documentation, making it easier for developers to get started and adapt it to their needs.

Although there's a learning curve when getting started with Tailwind CSS, it pays off by providing a highly customizable and efficient tool for crafting designs at the speed of thought. The recent updates in Tailwind CSS v4.0 have further expanded its power and utility.

Exploring the Alternative: NextUI

Though developed specifically for use with Next.js, NextUI adheres to traditional CSS design principles. It offers built-in responsiveness, pre-configured themes, and built-in dark theme support.

Tailwind CSS, on the other hand, offers a utility-first approach that may suit developers looking for a flexible and efficient framework to craft any design one can think of. Furthermore, with the recent release, Tailwind CSS aims to provide a Next.js application starter kit which can improve the overall development process.

In conclusion, the utility-first, performance-oriented approach of Tailwind CSS, paired with the server-rendered power of Next.js, creates a synergy that can help you develop faster, efficient, and more maintainable applications.

Unveiling Real-world Applications: Tailwind CSS in Next.js

Using Tailwind CSS in Next.js projects has brought good results for many companies and organizations. In this section, we will explore two case studies to better understand how these entities have successfully leveraged this combination in real-world scenarios.

Case Study 1: How GitHub Used Tailwind CSS with Next.js

GitHub, being a web-based platform for version control and collaboration, needed a reliable and efficient styling tool for Next.js for its web app development. The dev team turned to Tailwind CSS as a utility-first framework, which they felt could enable more rapid and responsive UI component development. Their in-house testing and experiments led them to witness firsthand the advantages of this CSS framework: its utility-first principle and highly customizable nature manifested as better control over styles and resulted in faster development time. Here, Tailwind CSS emerged as an efficient tool when used along with Next.js, aiding in building highly optimized web applications.

// Setting up Tailwind CSS in a Next.js project
module.exports = {
  plugins: ['tailwindcss', 'postcss-preset-env'],

However, they also recognized the occasional challenges of getting unused styles purged efficiently. Thus, they worked to integrate PurgeCSS, which helps eliminate unused CSS, thereby reducing the size of the output file.

Case Study 2: Tailwind CSS in Next.js on Algolia's Platform

Algolia, a tech company providing search-as-a-service, also opted to implement Tailwind CSS in their Next.js projects. Similar to the above-mentioned organizations, Algolia was enticed by the superior customization options and utility-first approach that Tailwind offered. Moreover, being a platform that focuses intently on performance, their Next.js project was visibly benefitted from the performance-boosting aspects of Tailwind CSS.

// Example usage of Tailwind CSS in Next.js
<div className="flex items-center justify-center h-screen bg-gray-200">
  <h1 className="text-5xl font-bold text-blue-700">Welcome to Next.js with Tailwind CSS!</h1>

While these companies experienced different challenges, they were united in their acceptance of Tailwind CSS as a potent tool to boost their Next.js projects' performance, bringing them significant benefits in the real-world applications they created. While not a universal solution, these case studies demonstrate the potent combination that Tailwind CSS and Next.js present, offering a compelling testament for developers considering these tools for their future projects.


As we wrap up this dive into Tailwind CSS and Next.js, it's worth mentioning how these advancements tie into the usage of platforms like caisy. With the unique headless CMS, the combination of Tailwind CSS and Next.js becomes even more powerful. Your frontend, backed by Next.js and styled by Tailwind CSS, seamlessly communicates with caisy’s GraphQL API, ensuring an efficient and fluid experience.

The diverse components and blueprints provided by caisy perfectly complement Tailwind's modular system, giving you the ability to create complex and visually stunning designs. With its remarkable speed, user-friendly interface, and content management capabilities, caisy plays a pivotal role in empowering developers.

On top of all these features, caisy's flexible pricing tiers and potential partnership opportunities make it a compelling choice for digital agencies of varying sizes and budgets.

If you're a developer who seeks efficiency, flexibility, and the ability to stay ahead in technology, caisy is a platform you should consider trying. Fasten your development journey with caisy’s unique features, and experience a quantum leap in managing web projects. Join caisy today and catapult your web development workflow to new frontiers. Sign up for free now.

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