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When to use CSS framework?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008 { 9 Comments }

What is CSS framework?

“A CSS framework is a pre-prepared library that is meant to allow for easier, more standards-compliant styling of a webpage using the Cascading Style Sheets language. Just like programming and scripting language libraries, CSS frameworks (usually packaged as external .css sheets inserted into the header) package a number of ready-made options for designing and outlaying a webpage.” - from Wikipedia

When to use CSS framework?

Let’s start with two obvious scenarios.
- Imagine that you are working on a project dealing with a site for some big newspaper (like “The New York Times”) or a big corporate portal like Yahoo; or you must do some unorthodox “artistic” site, but you are not allowed to use Flash.
- You work in a team and you must have “standard” universal code or you work alone and want to control your code.
So, let’s resume: If you have a very big site and work in a team (or alone) and you must have “standard” (universal) code that can cover all the scenarios, the best solution is - CSS Framework.

Who should use CSS framework?

One of the misleading concepts is that CSS Frameworks are great for CSS beginners and that you can web develop faster. Maybe you can save a lot of time in the beginning but you will lose a lot of time in the end for debugging or for implementing some specific code. It’s like Murphy's law - after almost everything being done, you must implement some features that the Framework does not cover.
Hence - the CSS Frameworks are not for CSS starters (newbies)! They are for people who know CSS but want more organized approach.

Positive/negative aspects of the CSS frameworks
- They usually have multi - browser support.
- If the CSS Frameworks are public and have community support a lot of bugs and problems are fixed. Also you have a lot of code examples.
- They usually have 80% of all the CSS code that you will ever need.
- You can learn a lot from the CSS Frameworks .

- There will be some CSS code from the framework that you will never use.
- You need time to learn how the CSS framework works.
- Bug fixing is not always simple (first you have to learn how the framework works)
- It’s not so “semantic” (class=”menu-left” – semantic v.s class=”div-xyz” not so semantic)

You can use CSS framework:

- If you have a newspaper that you want to publish online
- If you manage portal or corporate site
- If you write templates for some CMS like Drupal, Joomla, WordPress
You can add some other examples in the comments

If you want to stay out of the grid or you want to build something personal, then it’s better to write a personalized CSS code instead.

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Name: Vladimir Carrer
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