Materialize vs Tachyons

When it comes to building modern, responsive, and aesthetically pleasing websites, developers have a variety of CSS frameworks at their disposal. Two such frameworks that have garnered attention for their unique approaches to styling are Materialize and Tachyons. In this article, we will delve deep into both frameworks, comparing their philosophies, features, and implementations, to help you make an informed decision for your next project.

What is Materialize?

Materialize is a responsive front-end framework based on Material Design by Google. It’s designed to provide a consistent look and feel by applying the principles of material Design, which emphasizes bold, graphic, and intentional material metaphors. Materialize comes with a rich set of components and animations that are easy to use and customize.

Key Features of Materialize

  • Material Design: Adheres to Google’s Material Design guidelines.
  • Responsive: Built with a mobile-first approach.
  • Components: Offers a wide range of pre-designed components such as buttons, cards, navbars, and more.
  • JavaScript: Enhances components with jQuery-based JavaScript plugins.
  • Customization: Allows customization through SASS files.

Documentation and Installation

Materialize’s documentation is comprehensive and includes examples and code snippets for implementing its components. To install Materialize, you can download the compiled files or use a package manager like npm:

npm install materialize-css@next

Popular Addons and Libraries

Materialize doesn’t have an official set of addons, but there are third-party libraries and templates that can be used to extend its functionality. Some popular ones include:

  • Materialize Templates: Pre-built templates for quick project scaffolding.
  • Material Design Icons: An icon library that complements Materialize components.

What is Tachyons?

Tachyons is a functional CSS framework that focuses on performance and the principle of designing in the browser. It provides a set of small, single-purpose classes that can be combined to create complex designs with minimal CSS.

Key Features of Tachyons

  • Functional CSS: Uses utility-first classes for styling elements.
  • Performance: Small footprint leads to faster load times.
  • Responsive Design: Mobile-first responsive classes.
  • Modularity: Encourages building a custom design system.
  • Documentation: Well-documented with examples for each class.

Documentation and Installation

Tachyons’ documentation is clear and concise, with a table of contents that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. To get started with Tachyons, you can include the minified CSS file in your HTML or install it via npm:

npm install tachyons

Popular Addons and Libraries

While Tachyons is designed to be minimal and standalone, the community has created extensions and tools to enhance its capabilities:

  • Tachyons-Extra: A set of additional classes for more complex components.
  • Tachyons-Generator: A tool to customize and generate your own Tachyons build.

Detailed Code Samples

To illustrate the differences between Materialize and Tachyons, let’s take a look at some code samples for common UI elements.

Materialize: Navbar

<!-- Materialize Navbar -->
  <div class="nav-wrapper">
    <a href="#" class="brand-logo">Logo</a>
    <ul id="nav-mobile" class="right hide-on-med-and-down">
      <li><a href="sass.html">Sass</a></li>
      <li><a href="badges.html">Components</a></li>
      <li><a href="collapsible.html">JavaScript</a></li>

In Materialize, the navbar is created with a pre-defined structure and classes that style the component according to Material Design guidelines.

Tachyons: Navbar

<!-- Tachyons Navbar -->
<nav class="pa3 pa4-ns">
  <a class="link dim black b f6 f5-ns dib mr3" href="#" title="Home">Home</a>
  <a class="link dim gray f6 f5-ns dib mr3" href="#" title="About">About</a>
  <a class="link dim gray f6 f5-ns dib mr3" href="#" title="Store">Store</a>
  <a class="link dim gray f6 f5-ns dib" href="#" title="Contact">Contact</a>

With Tachyons, the navbar is built using utility classes that define padding, font size, color, and other properties. This approach allows for more granular control over the design.


Both Materialize and Tachyons offer unique approaches to CSS styling, with Materialize focusing on Material Design principles and pre-built components, while Tachyons emphasizes a functional, utility-first methodology. Understanding the core philosophies and features of each framework is crucial to determining which one aligns best with your project’s needs.

In the next half of this article, we will continue to explore more code samples, delve into customization and theming, and discuss the community and support surrounding each framework. Stay tuned for an even deeper dive into the world of Materialize and Tachyons.

Customization and Theming

Both Materialize and Tachyons offer customization options, but their approaches differ significantly due to their underlying philosophies.

Materialize Customization

Materialize is built with SASS, which allows you to customize the framework by modifying its source files before compilation. You can adjust colors, font-sizes, and other variables to match your design requirements.

// Customizing Materialize in SASS
$primary-color: color("blue", "lighten-2");

@import "materialize";

By changing the SASS variables, you can theme your project to have a unique look while still adhering to Material Design principles.

Tachyons Customization

Tachyons encourages a different approach to customization. Instead of modifying source files, you can build upon the existing utility classes to create your own design system. Tachyons’ functional classes are meant to be composable, giving you the freedom to design in the browser.

/* Customizing Tachyons with additional classes */
.bg-custom-blue {
  background-color: #007bff;

Here, a custom background color class is added to extend Tachyons’ utility classes without altering the framework itself.

Community and Support

The community and support around a framework can be a critical factor in its adoption. Both Materialize and Tachyons have active communities and various ways for developers to get help and contribute.

Materialize Community

Materialize has a sizable community of developers. You can find support and discussions on platforms like:

  • GitHub Issues: For reporting bugs and requesting features.
  • Stack Overflow: Tagged questions and answers.
  • Gitter: A chat room for real-time discussions.

Tachyons Community

Tachyons also has an enthusiastic following, with developers sharing their experiences and creations on platforms such as:

  • GitHub Issues: For collaboration and issue tracking.
  • Stack Overflow: Community Q&A with the Tachyons tag.
  • Twitter: Using the hashtag #tachyonscss for the latest updates and projects.

Advanced Code Samples

Let’s explore more advanced components and how each framework handles them.

Materialize: Modals

<!-- Trigger button -->
<a class="waves-effect waves-light btn modal-trigger" href="#modal1">Modal</a>

<!-- Modal Structure -->
<div id="modal1" class="modal">
  <div class="modal-content">
    <h4>Modal Header</h4>
    <p>A bunch of text</p>
  <div class="modal-footer">
    <a href="#!" class="modal-close waves-effect waves-green btn-flat">Agree</a>

<!-- Initialization -->
  document.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', function() {
    var elems = document.querySelectorAll('.modal');
    var instances = M.Modal.init(elems);

Materialize provides a structured modal component with JavaScript initialization for functionality.

Tachyons: Modals

Since Tachyons doesn’t include JavaScript or pre-defined components like modals, you would need to create your own structure and style it using utility classes. The functionality can be added with your own JavaScript or a third-party library.

<!-- Trigger button -->
<button class="f6 link dim br1 ba ph3 pv2 mb2 dib dark-gray" onclick="openModal()">Modal</button>

<!-- Modal Structure -->
<div class="modal dn" id="modal">
  <div class="pa4 bg-white">
    <h4 class="f4">Modal Header</h4>
    <p class="lh-copy measure">A bunch of text</p>
    <button class="f6 link dim br1 ba ph3 pv2 mb2 dib dark-gray" onclick="closeModal()">Close</button>

<!-- Custom JavaScript -->
  function openModal() {
  function closeModal() {

Pros and Cons

Materialize Pros:

  • Rich set of pre-designed components.
  • Based on the familiar and popular Material Design.
  • Integrated JavaScript functionality for dynamic components.

Materialize Cons:

  • Heavier than Tachyons, which may affect performance.
  • Reliance on jQuery for some components.

Tachyons Pros:

  • Extremely lightweight and fast.
  • Encourages a more hands-on approach to design.
  • Highly modular and easily extensible.

Tachyons Cons:

  • Lack of pre-built components may require more work for complex UIs.
  • Functional CSS can lead to verbose HTML with many classes.


Choosing between Materialize and Tachyons ultimately depends on your project’s needs and your personal or team’s design philosophy. Materialize is ideal for those who prefer a guided design system with pre-built components that adhere to Material Design principles. On the other hand, Tachyons is perfect for developers who value performance and want the flexibility to craft a unique design system with a functional, utility-first approach.

Both frameworks have vibrant communities and extensive documentation to help you get started. By considering the features, customization options, and community support we’ve discussed, you can make an informed decision on which framework will best serve your project’s goals. Whether you choose Materialize or Tachyons, you’ll have a powerful set of tools at your disposal to create beautiful, responsive websites.

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