Pure.css vs Tachyons

Pure.css vs Tachyons
When it comes to selecting a CSS framework for a web project, developers are spoiled for choice. Among the plethora of options, Pure.css and Tachyons stand out for their unique approaches to styling web applications. In this article, we’ll delve into an in-depth comparison of these two frameworks, covering everything from their design philosophies to code samples, to help you make an informed decision for your next project.

Pure.css: The Lightweight and Modular Approach

Pure.css is a minimalistic framework that aims to be as lightweight as possible. It was created by Yahoo and is composed of small, responsive CSS modules that you can use in web projects.

Key Features of Pure.css

  • Modularity: Pure is designed to be modular, allowing developers to include only the styles they need, which helps keep the overall file size down.
  • Responsiveness: The framework includes a responsive grid system that adapts to various screen sizes, ensuring that your website looks good on all devices.
  • Pure Design: Pure.css has a clean and minimal aesthetic, providing a solid foundation for any web design without imposing any particular style.

Documentation and Installation

The documentation for Pure.css is comprehensive and easy to follow. You can find it at Pure.css Documentation. To get started with Pure.css, you can either download it from the website or install it using a package manager like npm or Yarn.

npm install purecss
# or
yarn add purecss

Popular Add-ons and Libraries for Pure.css

While Pure.css is designed to be used as-is, there are some third-party add-ons and libraries that can enhance its functionality:

  • Pure.css Layouts: Pre-built layouts that can be quickly customized for a variety of uses.
  • Pure.css UI Kit: A collection of UI components built on top of Pure.css for faster development.

Code Sample: Pure.css Grid System

<div class="pure-g">
    <div class="pure-u-1 pure-u-md-1-3">
        <p>This is a third on medium screens and full-width on small screens.</p>
    <div class="pure-u-1 pure-u-md-1-3">
        <p>Same here, but with a different content.</p>
    <div class="pure-u-1 pure-u-md-1-3">
        <p>And here we have the last third of the medium screen row.</p>

Tachyons: Functional CSS for Humans

Tachyons takes a different approach to styling web pages. It’s a functional CSS framework that focuses on creating fast-loading, highly readable, and super responsive interfaces with as little CSS as possible.

Key Features of Tachyons

  • Functional Classes: Tachyons provides single-purpose classes that are meant to do one thing well, following the principles of functional programming.
  • Performance: With an emphasis on performance, Tachyons ensures that your stylesheets remain small and your websites load quickly.
  • Scalability: Since Tachyons uses functional classes, it’s easy to scale your designs without writing a lot of custom CSS.

Documentation and Installation

Tachyons’ documentation is thorough and offers a great introduction to the functional CSS concept. You can find the documentation at Tachyons Documentation. To install Tachyons, you can download it from the website or use a package manager.

npm install tachyons
# or
yarn add tachyons

Popular Add-ons and Libraries for Tachyons

Tachyons is generally used as a standalone framework, but there are some tools and extensions that can complement its usage:

  • Tachyons Custom: A tool that allows you to customize Tachyons’ default configuration before downloading it.
  • Tachyons Components: A collection of components and layouts built with Tachyons for easier prototyping.

Code Sample: Tachyons Utility Classes

<article class="pa3 pa5-ns">
  <h1 class="f3 f1-m f-headline-l">Headline Text</h1>
  <p class="measure lh-copy">
    The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. This text block is styled using Tachyons' utility classes for typography and spacing.

In the next sections, we will compare the two frameworks side by side, looking at their syntax, customization options, community support, and more. We’ll also discuss when to use each framework and provide more code samples to illustrate their usage in real-world scenarios. Stay tuned for the second half of this comprehensive guide to Pure.css vs Tachyons.

Syntax and Class Naming Conventions

One of the key differences between Pure.css and Tachyons lies in their syntax and class naming conventions.

Pure.css Syntax

Pure.css uses semantic class names that are descriptive and easy to understand. For example, to create a button, you would use a class like pure-button. This makes it clear what the element is and how it should look, without having to delve into the stylesheet.

<button class="pure-button">Click Me</button>

Tachyons Syntax

Tachyons, on the other hand, uses functional class names that describe what the style does. This can lead to a more cryptic class naming system, but it also means that you can style elements directly in your HTML without writing custom CSS.

<button class="f6 link dim br2 ph3 pv2 mb2 dib white bg-blue">Click Me</button>

Customization and Theming

Both frameworks allow for customization, but they do so in different ways.

Customizing Pure.css

To customize Pure.css, you can overwrite the default styles by adding your own CSS after the Pure.css file. You can also use the Customizer provided on the Pure.css website to create a custom build with only the modules you need.

Customizing Tachyons

Tachyons is built with customization in mind. You can use the Tachyons Generator to create a custom version of the framework with your color palette, spacing scale, typography, and more. This allows you to maintain the functional approach while tailoring the framework to your brand.

Community and Ecosystem

The community and ecosystem surrounding a framework can be crucial in providing support, resources, and additional tools.

Pure.css Community

Pure.css has a smaller community compared to some other CSS frameworks. However, it benefits from being created by Yahoo and has a number of contributors on GitHub. There are fewer third-party resources and plugins available for Pure.css, but the official documentation is quite comprehensive.

Tachyons Community

Tachyons has a vibrant community and a strong presence on GitHub. There are many contributors who actively work on the project and a variety of third-party resources, including component libraries and design tools, that have been created to work with Tachyons.

When to Use Each Framework

Choosing between Pure.css and Tachyons often comes down to the specific needs of your project and your personal or team’s preference in terms of workflow.

When to Use Pure.css

  • When you prefer semantic and descriptive class names.
  • If you want a lightweight framework that provides a solid foundation without too much styling.
  • When you need a responsive grid system out of the box.
  • If you’re working on a project where you want to avoid the overhead of learning functional CSS.

When to Use Tachyons

  • When you embrace the utility-first approach and prefer functional CSS.
  • If you want maximum control over the design without writing a lot of custom CSS.
  • When performance is a top priority, and you need a highly optimized CSS framework.
  • If you’re comfortable with a steeper learning curve for the benefit of more scalable and maintainable styles.


Both Pure.css and Tachyons offer unique advantages and can be the right choice depending on the context of your project. Pure.css provides a set of responsive and minimal modules that can be easily integrated into any web project, while Tachyons offers a functional approach to styling that can lead to faster development and performance gains.

Ultimately, the decision between Pure.css and Tachyons will depend on your project requirements, your team’s familiarity with the frameworks, and your personal preference for CSS architecture. By understanding the strengths and trade-offs of each framework, you can make a choice that aligns with your development philosophy and project goals.

Remember to explore the documentation and community resources for both Pure.css and Tachyons to get a better sense of what each framework has to offer. With the right tools and an understanding of their capabilities, you can create beautifully styled, responsive, and performant web applications.

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