Ant Design vs Primer

When it comes to developing modern web applications, the choice of a CSS framework can greatly influence both the development process and the end result. Two of the popular contenders in the realm of CSS frameworks are Ant Design and Primer. Both frameworks offer a unique set of features, components, and design philosophies that cater to different types of projects and developer preferences. In this article, we will delve deep into the intricacies of Ant Design and Primer, comparing them on various aspects to help you make an informed decision for your next project.

Ant Design

Ant Design, often referred to as AntD, is an enterprise-class UI design language and React-based implementation that provides an out-of-the-box set of high-quality components and demos for building rich, interactive user interfaces.

Key Features of Ant Design

  • Component Rich: Ant Design boasts a comprehensive collection of components that are ready to use, including tables, forms, navigation menus, and more.
  • Customizable Theme: It allows for extensive theming and customization through its theme variables using Less.
  • Internationalization: Ant Design supports multiple languages and locales, making it suitable for global applications.
  • Best Practices: It is designed with best practices in mind, ensuring accessibility and a responsive design.

Documentation and Installation

The documentation for Ant Design is thorough and well-organized, which can be found on their official documentation page. To get started with Ant Design, you can follow the installation guide on their installation page.

Third-party Addons and Libraries

Being a popular framework, Ant Design has a rich ecosystem of third-party addons and libraries. Some of the popular ones include:

  • antd-mobile: A mobile version of Ant Design for building mobile-friendly web apps.
  • @ant-design/charts: A React chart library that provides a rich set of chart components.


Primer, created by GitHub, is an open-source CSS framework that powers GitHub’s interface. It is designed with GitHub’s own design system and principles in mind, providing a suite of tools for building web applications that fit into GitHub’s visual style.

Key Features of Primer

  • Modular and Scalable: Primer is built with a modular approach, making it easy to include only the parts you need, which can help in keeping the CSS footprint small.
  • Responsive: Primer includes a responsive grid system and utility classes to build responsive designs easily.
  • Web Standards: It adheres to web standards, ensuring accessibility and compatibility.
  • GitHub’s Design System: Using Primer means adopting the design system of one of the largest development platforms, which can be beneficial for projects that aim for a similar look and feel.

Documentation and Installation

Primer’s documentation is comprehensive and provides a good starting point for developers new to the framework. You can find the documentation on their official documentation page. To install Primer, visit the installation guide.

Third-party Addons and Libraries

Primer is designed to be extensible, and while it may not have as many third-party libraries as Ant Design, it integrates well with GitHub’s suite of tools and services. Some of the notable addons include:

  • Primer Components: A React component library that implements Primer’s design system.
  • Octicons: GitHub’s icon set that is commonly used with Primer.

Code Samples

To give you a practical understanding of how each framework operates, let’s look at some code samples.

Ant Design Sample

import { Button, DatePicker } from 'antd';
import 'antd/dist/antd.css'; // Import Ant Design styles

const App = () => (
    <Button type="primary">Primary Button</Button>
    <DatePicker placeholder="Select date" />

export default App;

This sample demonstrates how to import and use a button and date picker from Ant Design in a React component.

Primer Sample

<link rel="stylesheet" href="">

<div class="Box">
  <button class="btn btn-primary" type="button">Primary Button</button>
  <input class="form-control" type="text" placeholder="Standard input">

In this HTML snippet, we include Primer’s CSS and use the Box, btn, and form-control classes to style a button and an input field.


Ant Design Customization

Customizing Ant Design is straightforward, especially with its use of Less variables. You can override these variables to match your design requirements. Here’s an example of how to customize the primary color:

@import '~antd/dist/antd.less'; // Import Ant Design styles
@primary-color: #1DA57A; // Override primary color

You can also use the modifyVars option in your Webpack configuration to override variables without touching the Less files directly.

Primer Customization

Primer is built with SCSS, and it offers variables, mixins, and functions that you can use to create a custom build. Customization can be done by adjusting the SCSS variables before importing the Primer SCSS files. For example:

$blue: #0366d6;
$spacing-1: 4px;

@import 'primer/index.scss';

This allows you to tweak the color palette, spacing scale, typography, and more to suit your project’s design.

Community Support

Ant Design Community

Ant Design has a large and active community, with many contributors on GitHub. The framework is widely used in enterprise applications, particularly in China, and has a strong following. You can find numerous tutorials, articles, and forum discussions online. The community contributes to the framework by reporting issues, suggesting features, and creating pull requests.

Primer Community

Primer, being the backbone of GitHub’s interface, has a reputable presence in the open-source community. GitHub itself maintains the framework, and the community contributes through the GitHub repository. While it might not be as widely adopted outside of GitHub-related projects, it still has a solid user base and community support.

Real-world Usage

Ant Design in Production

Ant Design is employed by many large-scale applications and websites, especially those that require a comprehensive set of UI components. Its enterprise focus makes it a go-to choice for internal dashboards, management systems, and complex web applications.

Primer in Production

Primer is used extensively within GitHub, which serves as a testament to its capabilities. It’s an excellent choice for developers looking to create interfaces that are consistent with GitHub’s style, or for those who prefer a more modular and lightweight framework for their projects.

Performance Considerations

When choosing a CSS framework, it’s essential to consider the impact on performance. Both Ant Design and Primer have their considerations:

Ant Design Performance

Ant Design’s performance is generally good, but since it includes a large set of components, the resulting bundle size can be significant. It’s crucial to only import the components you need and use techniques like tree-shaking to reduce the final bundle size.

Primer Performance

Primer’s modular approach allows you to include only the styles you need, which can lead to better performance for your project. Since it’s less component-heavy than Ant Design, the overall impact on load times can be lower if used judiciously.


Both Ant Design and Primer offer unique advantages and can be the right choice depending on your project’s needs. Ant Design is ideal for developers looking for an out-of-the-box, feature-rich component library with an enterprise focus. Primer, on the other hand, is perfect for those who want a lightweight, modular framework that adheres to GitHub’s design principles.

When making your decision, consider factors like the complexity of your project, the need for customization, community support, and performance implications. By weighing these aspects, you can select a CSS framework that aligns with your development goals and enhances your web application’s user experience.

Remember that the best framework is the one that fits your specific use case the best. Whether you choose Ant Design for its comprehensive component library or Primer for its GitHub-inspired design and modularity, both frameworks are solid choices for modern web development.

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