Primer vs Chakra UI

When it comes to building user interfaces for web applications, developers have a plethora of CSS frameworks to choose from. Each framework comes with its own set of features, components, and design philosophies that can significantly affect the development process and the final product. In this article, we will delve into an in-depth comparison between two popular CSS frameworks: Primer and Chakra UI. We will explore their core concepts, the ecosystem, ease of use, customization, and community support to help you decide which framework is the best fit for your project.

Primer: The GitHub-designed CSS Framework

Primer is the CSS framework created by GitHub. It is designed to be a scalable and accessible system that can be used to build web interfaces with GitHub’s visual language. Primer aims to provide a system that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing, with a focus on simplicity and reusability.

Primer Documentation and Installation

The official documentation for Primer can be found at Primer Documentation. To get started with Primer, you can install it via npm:

npm install --save primer

Or, you can include it directly in your HTML:

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

For more detailed instructions, you can visit the installation page.

Popular Addons for Primer

Primer does not have as extensive a range of third-party addons as some other frameworks, but it does offer a set of tools and extensions such as:

  • Primer Components: A React component library that works seamlessly with Primer CSS.
  • Octicons: A scalable set of icons handcrafted by GitHub.

Code Sample: Using Primer

Here is an example of how to use Primer to create a simple button:

<button class="btn">Default button</button>
<button class="btn btn-primary">Primary button</button>
<button class="btn btn-danger">Danger button</button>

Chakra UI: A Modular and Accessible Component Library

Chakra UI is a modern React component library that provides a set of accessible, reusable, and composable components that make it easy to create websites and applications. Chakra UI is designed with ease of customization in mind, allowing developers to quickly theme their applications as needed.

Chakra UI Documentation and Installation

For comprehensive guidance on how to use Chakra UI, visit the official documentation. To install Chakra UI in your React project, run the following command:

npm i @chakra-ui/react @emotion/react @emotion/styled framer-motion

Or, if you’re using yarn:

yarn add @chakra-ui/react @emotion/react @emotion/styled framer-motion

The installation guide can be found on the installation page.

Popular Addons for Chakra UI

Chakra UI has a growing ecosystem with various addons and tools created by the community, such as:

  • Chakra UI Pro: A set of premium components and templates.
  • Chakra Templates: A collection of free templates and components.
  • Chakra UI Icons: A set of additional icons for Chakra UI.

Code Sample: Using Chakra UI

Here’s an example of how to use Chakra UI to create a simple button:

import { Button } from "@chakra-ui/react";

function App() {
  return (
    <Button colorScheme="blue">Button</Button>

Core Concepts

Design Philosophy

Primer is built with a focus on GitHub’s design principles, which means it is optimized for the types of interfaces seen on GitHub’s platform. It emphasizes clear typography, spacing, and a strong but limited color palette.

Chakra UI, on the other hand, is designed with a focus on simplicity and modularity. It follows the principles of component-based design, which allows developers to build interfaces with isolated and reusable components that can be easily themed and adjusted.


Both Primer and Chakra UI take accessibility seriously. Primer adheres to GitHub’s accessibility standards, ensuring that interfaces built with Primer are navigable and usable by all users, including those with disabilities.

Chakra UI is also built with accessibility in mind, with components following the WAI-ARIA guidelines. This ensures that applications built with Chakra UI are accessible out of the box, with proper keyboard navigation and screen reader support.

Theming and Customization

Customization is an important aspect of any CSS framework, as it allows developers to tailor the look and feel of their application to match their branding and design requirements.

Primer provides a set of variables and mixins that can be customized to alter the default styles. However, the scope for customization is not as extensive as in some other frameworks.

Chakra UI shines in this area with its theming capabilities. It uses a default theme inspired by Tailwind CSS’s design system, which can be easily overridden with custom values. The ThemeProvider component allows developers to apply their theme across all Chakra UI components, ensuring a consistent look throughout the application.

Community and Support

The community and support surrounding a CSS framework can be crucial, especially when developers encounter issues or need guidance on best practices.

Primer, being backed by GitHub, has a solid community with GitHub discussions and an active development team that continues to evolve the framework. However, its community is not as large as some other CSS frameworks, given its specific use case and association with GitHub.

Chakra UI boasts a vibrant and growing community. It has a strong presence on platforms like GitHub and Discord, where developers can seek help and contribute to the project. The framework is regularly updated, and the maintainers are responsive to issues and feature requests.


Both Primer and Chakra UI offer unique advantages to developers looking to build web interfaces. Primer is an excellent choice for those who want to leverage GitHub’s design system and are looking for a framework with a strong emphasis on simplicity and reusability. Chakra UI, with its focus on modularity and accessibility, is ideal for developers who need a highly customizable and easy-to-use component library for their React applications.

In the next section, we will continue our exploration of Primer and Chakra UI, looking at performance considerations, real-world usage examples, and how to make the decision between the two for your specific project needs. Stay tuned for the second half of this comprehensive guide.

Performance Considerations

When selecting a CSS framework, performance can be a significant factor, especially for large-scale applications or those with high traffic. Both Primer and Chakra UI have been designed with performance in mind, but their approaches and outcomes may differ.

Primer Performance

Primer, being a traditional CSS framework, has a lightweight core and offers a minimalistic approach. Since it’s not tied to a JavaScript library, it doesn’t add any JavaScript overhead to your project. The use of utility classes and pre-compiled CSS can lead to faster load times and potentially better performance, especially on sites where server-side rendering is used.

Chakra UI Performance

Chakra UI, while offering a rich set of features and components, relies on JavaScript for its functionality. This means that there is an inherent performance cost associated with loading and executing JavaScript. However, Chakra UI is built on top of Emotion, a performant and flexible CSS-in-JS library, which helps mitigate performance issues by allowing for optimized CSS generation and the possibility of server-side rendering.

To ensure optimal performance when using Chakra UI, developers should be mindful of tree-shaking and code-splitting to avoid loading unnecessary components.

Real-World Usage Examples

To better understand how Primer and Chakra UI can be used in real-world scenarios, let’s look at some examples of each framework in action.

Primer in Action

Primer is used extensively throughout GitHub’s own web platforms. The framework’s components and design guidelines are visible in the interface of the GitHub website, where clarity and consistency are key. For developers seeking to create interfaces that feel familiar to GitHub users, Primer is a natural choice.

Chakra UI in Action

Chakra UI is used in a variety of projects, from small startups to large enterprises. One notable example is the creation of dynamic and responsive dashboards where developers can take advantage of Chakra UI’s customizable components to quickly build out complex UIs with consistent design and accessibility features.

How to Make the Decision

When deciding between Primer and Chakra UI, consider the following factors:

  • Project Type: If you’re building a React application and need a comprehensive set of components that are easily customizable, Chakra UI may be the better choice. If you’re looking for a CSS framework that aligns with GitHub’s design system and doesn’t rely on React, Primer could be more suitable.
  • Customization Needs: If your project requires extensive theming and customization, Chakra UI’s theming capabilities are more advanced than Primer’s.
  • Accessibility Requirements: Both frameworks prioritize accessibility, but Chakra UI’s components are designed with accessibility built-in, which can save development time.
  • Performance: For projects where JavaScript payload is a concern, Primer’s CSS-only approach might offer better performance. However, for React-based projects, Chakra UI’s performance can be optimized with proper coding practices.
  • Community and Ecosystem: Consider the size and activity of the community, as well as the availability of addons and extensions. Chakra UI has a larger community and a growing number of addons, while Primer offers a more focused set of tools closely aligned with GitHub’s ecosystem.


Both Primer and Chakra UI have their own strengths and are suited to different types of projects and developer preferences. Primer offers a GitHub-centric design system with a focus on simplicity and reusability, making it ideal for projects that require a lightweight and straightforward CSS framework. Chakra UI, with its rich component library and emphasis on customization and accessibility, is a great choice for developers building complex React applications that need a flexible and easy-to-use UI toolkit.

Ultimately, the decision between Primer and Chakra UI will depend on your project’s specific needs, your familiarity with React, and your design goals. By considering the factors outlined in this article, you should be able to make an informed choice that will set your project up for success.

Remember to explore the resources provided by both frameworks, engage with their communities, and take the time to experiment with each option before making your final decision. Whichever framework you choose, both Primer and Chakra UI offer robust solutions for building modern, user-friendly web interfaces.

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