Tailwind vs. Bootstrap header

7 June 2024

Tailwind vs. Bootstrap: The Comparison

Irelia Codeheart, Senior Developer

You're frustrated and can't help but ask yourself: What is better than Bootstrap? Or you're looking for an alternative to Tailwind CSS? Maybe you're just wondering about the difference between Bootstrap and Tailwind?

Well, in any of these – and many more – cases, the following blogpost will help you. This is the showdown of Bootstrap vs Tailwind. So let's take a close look at the CSS frameworks, their pros and cons and use cases to help you make the right choice.

Bootstrap and Tailwind CSS Explained

For successful web development, it's crucial to understand the tools you're working with.

Tailwind CSS and Bootstrap are two popular CSS frameworks. While based on different principles, both simplify the front-end development process by minimizing the need for direct CSS coding. This allows developers to concentrate more on enhancing the user experience rather than managing complex CSS details.

To make sure you know the differences between Tailwind CSS and Bootstrap, let's have a closer look at their features and advantages.

What is Tailwind CSS?

Tailwind CSS is a so-called utility-first CSS framework – and currently the most popular one. It lends itself to deeper customization than many other frameworks.

The key features of Tailwind CSS include:

  • Utility-first: Tailwind provides low-level utility classes that allow you to build any design directly in your markup.

  • Customization: With Tailwind developers have great flexibility.

  • Performance: It boasts a smaller file size. This leads to faster load times and a smooth user experience.

These points are advantages for experienced developers. However, speaking of Tailwind for beginners, the degree of customization can also mean a hefty challenge. To make the most out of Tailwind, beginners will need practice and hands-on involvement with CSS.

What is Bootstrap?

Now let's have a look at Bootstrap and its features. Bootstrap is a front-end development framework primarily designed for responsive and mobile-friendly web applications. It is considered quite beginner-friendly. Being one of the oldest CSS frameworks, Bootstrap comes with comprehensive documentation and a large community. Bootstrap can be downloaded as complete CSS and JavaScript files or directly from its source. It's also available through package managers such as NPM, Yarn, and RubyGems, or it can be linked via a CDN for easier use.

The capabilities of Bootstrap include:

  • Pre-designed components: Bootstrap's pre-made components, save developers from constantly rewriting common elements.

  • Consistency: Bootstrap enables a consistent user interface across platforms and devices with its mobile-first approach.

  • Compatibility: It is well compatible with all modern browsers and also supportive of older browser versions.

However, its reliance on jQuery and the large CSS and JS bundle size can slow down websites and limit customization options.

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Advantages and Challenges of Tailwind CSS and Bootstrap

What makes Tailwind CSS better than Bootstrap? And where is it the wrong choice? Here are the pros and cons summed up:

Pros and Cons of Bootstrap

  1. Pre-Designed Components: As we already discussed, Bootstrap comes with plenty of pre-designed components. These help to create responsive, mobile-friendly websites quickly. For example, you derive items like modals, sliders, and navigation bars right out of the box. This speeds up your development lifecycle.

  2. Large Bundle Size: However, this comes at a cost. Bootstrap's CSS and JS bundles are quite large. This can affect your website's performance, especially on slower networks.

  3. Bootstraps Limitations: Bootstrap's ease-of-use also limits the flexibility. If you over-rely on the built-in designs, your website might end up looking similar to several others.

  4. Good Compatibility: Bootstrap is highly compatible with older browsers.

Pros and Cons of Tailwind CSS

  1. Utility-First Approach: No pre-built components. TailwindCSS's utility-first philosophy gives you a greater range of low-level utility classes to construct unique designs.

  2. Smaller Bundle Size: Compared to Bootstrap, Tailwind CSS has a smaller file size. This leads to faster loading times and better user experience, especially in situations where network conditions aren't ideal.

  3. Steeper Learning Curve: How to learn Tailwind CSS? Take your time. The utility-first approach is just significantly different from more traditional CSS frameworks.

  4. Modern Browser Focused: One more thing to consider is Tailwind's better support for modern browsers. However, it arguably lacks the broad compatibility that Bootstrap provides.

It's already obvious that the choice between the frameworks is project-dependent. But to be sure you decide right, let's dive deeper into their use cases, and suitability.

When to use Tailwind CSS and Bootstrap

To continue the comparison of Bootstrap vs Tailwind, let's talk about their common use-cases.

Tailwind CSS Use Cases

You want to get really creative? Tailwind CSS's utility-first approach is perfect for projects that demand more flexibility and control over the components. For example, you can consider using Tailwind CSS if you are working with a small team on a brand-new website, and you want the freedom to style each individual element.

Consider a scenario where you're working on a project where you need to optimize the size of your CSS files. It's easy to customize Tailwind CSS configuration to only include the styles that you need – which can result in smaller file sizes.

With this setup, tailwind eliminates unused styles from the final CSS file:

module.exports = {
    purge: ['./src/**/*.html'],
    theme: {},
    variants: {},
    plugins: [],

Another application scenario could be web applications that need performance optimizations. Tailwind CSS is a good fit for such a project, as it is possible to control styles minutely, produce smoother animations and transitions.

When to use Bootstrap

You don't like to write CSS? Bootstrap is your friend.

Classic use cases of Bootstrap are projects that require rapid development with less focus on customization. Bootstrap's prebuilt components make it an excellent framework for building prototypes and MVPs rapidly.

The component-based nature makes it a great fit for larger teams where standardization and consistency are important.

Another scenario where Bootstrap is better than Tailwind CSS, are projects that need to support a broad variety of platforms, browsers, or devices. Bootstrap's numerous cross-browser fixes and workarounds maximize compatibility with as many environments as possible.

Bootstrap is also suitable for beginners, thanks to the excellent documentation.

Tailwind vs Bootstrap Developer Feedback

Obviously both, Bootstrap and Tailwind, are popular in the developer community. So what are the differences between Bootstrap and Tailwind CSS? They cater to different development philosophies.

The web development community has various opinions on Tailwind CSS. The majority states that it's a powerful tool for creating unique, custom designs. It's highly sought after for its customization capabilities, smaller file size, and better support for modern browsers. However, the community also has some critique points. Learn more about what fellow developers think about the framework in the various Tailwind communities.

Bootstrap continues to remain a mainstay in the world of front-end development. Developers appreciate the pre-designed components, template library, and broad-ranging functionality. The community likes responsive design capabilities and the convenience it offers in building websites quickly. Enter the Bootstrap Github Community to interact with fellow devs.

On Github, Tailwind currently has 79,4 K stars while Bootstrap has 168 stars (state of June 2024).

In conclusion, developers seem to lean towards Tailwind when a high degree of customization is required, while Bootstrap continues to be a go-to choice for quick and simple development tasks.

News and Updates for Tailwind CSS and Bootstrap in 2024

Let's dive into what the developers of Tailwind CSS and Bootstrap have in store for the future and their latest updates.

Latest Updates on Tailwind CSS

  • Prettier Plugin for Tailwind CSS: End of May 2024, a new version of the prettier-plugin-tailwindcss has been released, enhancing the tool by automatically removing unnecessary whitespace and duplicate classes when sorting classes. Also, the first major update to Catalyst since its development preview includes new application layouts, navbar and sidebar components, and description lists.

  • Headless UI v2.0 for React (Released on May 7, 2024): Significant improvements to Headless UI have been made, reducing the amount of code developers need to write and enhancing the developer experience. Learn about Headless technology here.

  • Open-Sourcing Tailwind CSS v4.0 Progress (Announced on March 6, 2024): At Tailwind Connect, a preview of Oxide, a new high-performance engine for Tailwind CSS designed to simplify the developer experience, was shared. This update aims to leverage the evolution of the web platform since Tailwind's inception.

These updates reflect Tailwind CSS's commitment to improving flexibility, ease of use, and integration with modern web development practices. For more detailed exploration of new Tailwind features, you can check Tailwind's official blog.

Bootstrap News

Here’s a brief overview of the latest Bootstrap update released on the 30th of May.

Bootstrap v5.3.0 Stable Release: This major release features a significant codebase overhaul to incorporate CSS variables and diverse color modes, paving the way for Bootstrap 6.

  • Dark Mode and Custom Color Modes:

    Dark Mode: Bootstrap has enhanced support for dark mode, which can now be activated via the data-bs-theme attribute for full-page or component-specific styling.

    Custom Color Modes: The release also introduces support for multiple custom color modes, allowing more tailored theme possibilities.

  • New Utilities and Expanded Color Palette:

    Link Utilities and Color Adjustments: New link utilities improve styling options with features like opacity adjustments and custom focus rings.

    Extended Color Palette: The update includes a richer color palette to support the new color modes, offering more flexibility for theming.

These updates highlight Bootstrap's commitment to modern web design practices and enhanced user customization. For more detailed insights, you can visit the Bootstrap blog.

Choosing between Tailwind CSS vs Bootstrap

In the world of web development, choosing the right tools often comes down to personal preference, team expertise, and the nature of the project at hand. As we've seen in this article, both Tailwind CSS and Bootstrap present unique strengths and weaknesses, each catering to different developer needs and project requirements.

The choice between the two isn't a matter of one framework being universally better than the other. Instead, it's about selecting the one that fits the particular context and needs of your project.

Final Thoughts

So what is better, Bootstrap or Tailwind? Learn both! As they each have a unique way of handling styles, being able to work with both makes you a more flexible developer because and helps you pick the right tool for every project. Fundamentally, both frameworks are designed with the intention to simplify and streamline the process of building engaging, responsive web interfaces.

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Whether you decide to use Tailwind CSS or Bootstrap, combining it with caisy can greatly enhance your development workflow, and provide a solid foundation for building content-rich, efficient, and engaging websites. So why not sign up and experience the caisy difference today? Not just a free trial - but an actual free plan that gives you limitless potential.

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