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Tailwind Vs Bootstrap Vs OpenProps - CSS Comparison Deep Dive


Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) frameworks have become an essential part of modern web development, providing developers with a set of pre-written styles and components that streamline the design process. Among the plethora of CSS frameworks available, three stand out due to their popularity and unique offerings: Tailwind CSS, Bootstrap, and OpenProps. In this article, we will dive deep into the differences and similarities between these frameworks and explore their strengths and weaknesses in various aspects such as styling, customization, responsive design, and performance optimization.

Framework Overview

Tailwind CSS

Tailwind CSS, created by Adam Wathan and Steve Schoger, is a utility-first CSS framework that aims to enable developers to build custom designs faster and more efficiently. It offers a wide range of utility classes that can be combined to create unique and responsive designs without writing custom CSS.

Key features and advantages:

  • Utility-first approach for rapid prototyping and custom design
  • Highly customizable configuration
  • Responsive design with built-in breakpoints
  • Smaller file sizes with PurgeCSS integration

Official documentation: Tailwind CSS


Bootstrap, initially developed by Twitter, is one of the most popular CSS frameworks available. It provides a comprehensive set of pre-built components, responsive grid system, and default styles that make it easy for developers to create consistent and responsive websites quickly.

Key features and advantages:

  • Comprehensive set of pre-built components and styles
  • Robust responsive grid system
  • Customizable with Sass variables and mixins
  • Large community and extensive documentation

Official documentation: Bootstrap


OpenProps is an open-source CSS framework that focuses on providing a minimal set of customizable utility classes, while keeping file size small and performance high. OpenProps aims to offer an alternative to developers who want the flexibility of utility classes without the complexity of larger frameworks.

Key features and advantages:

  • Minimalist design for better performance
  • Highly customizable utility classes
  • Built with PostCSS for easy integration with modern build tools
  • Smaller file sizes compared to other frameworks

Official documentation: OpenProps

Comparison: Styling and Customization

Default Styling

When comparing the default styles provided by Tailwind, Bootstrap, and OpenProps, it's worth noting that each framework has its own distinct approach. Bootstrap offers a wide range of pre-built components and styles "out-of-the-box," making it easy to create a visually appealing website quickly. On the other hand, Tailwind and OpenProps provide a more minimal set of default styles, focusing on utility classes that allow developers to create custom designs with greater ease.

Comparison of default styles for common elements:

Customization Capabilities

All three frameworks offer different levels of customization, catering to various developer preferences.

Tailwind CSS: Tailwind allows for extensive customization through its configuration file, where you can define custom colors, spacing, typography, and more. To override default styles, you can simply create a new utility class with a higher specificity.

module.exports = {
  theme: {
    backgroundColor: {
      'primary': '#1a202c',
      'secondary': '#2d3748',
      'tertiary': '#4a5568
	extend: {
  fontFamily: {
    'sans': ['Roboto', 'Arial', 'sans-serif'],
variants: {},
plugins: [],

Bootstrap: Customization in Bootstrap is achieved primarily through modifying Sass variables and using mixins. You can also create custom CSS rules to override default styles or extend the framework.

$primary: #1a202c;
$secondary: #2d3748;
$tertiary: #4a5568;

@import "bootstrap/scss/bootstrap";

body {
  font-family: "Roboto", Arial, sans-serif;

OpenProps: Similar to Tailwind, OpenProps is highly customizable through its PostCSS configuration. You can modify the default values or add new utility classes as needed.

module.exports = {
  plugins: [
      theme: {
        colors: {
          'primary': '#1a202c',
          'secondary': '#2d3748',
          'tertiary': '#4a5568',
        fontFamily: {
          'sans': ['Roboto', 'Arial', 'sans-serif'],

Theming Support

Built-in theming options vary between the three frameworks, with Bootstrap providing the most extensive support.

Tailwind CSS: While Tailwind doesn't include built-in theming options, you can create custom themes by defining your own utility classes in the configuration file.

Bootstrap: Bootstrap supports theming through Sass variables and mixins, allowing developers to create custom themes easily. Additionally, there's a wide selection of community-built themes and templates available.

OpenProps: Similar to Tailwind, OpenProps does not include built-in theming options. However, you can create custom themes by modifying the configuration and extending the utility classes.

Comparison: Responsive Design

Grid Systems and Layouts

Responsive design is a crucial aspect of modern web development, and each of the three frameworks offers its own grid system for creating responsive layouts.

Tailwind CSS: Tailwind uses a flexible grid system based on Flexbox and CSS Grid, which allows developers to create complex layouts with utility classes. Example:

<div class="grid grid-cols-3 gap-4">
  <div>Column 1</div>
  <div>Column 2</div>
  <div>Column 3</div>

Bootstrap: Bootstrap's grid system is based on a 12-column layout, using Flexbox for responsive design. Example:

<div class="container">
  <div class="row">
    <div class="col-md-4">Column 1</div>
    <div class="col-md-4">Column 2</div>
    <div class="col-md-4">Column 3</div>

OpenProps: OpenProps uses Flexbox for its grid system, allowing developers to create responsive layouts using a minimal set of utility classes. Example:

<div class="flex flex-wrap">
  <div class="flex-1">Column 1</div>
  <div class="flex-1">Column 2</div>
  <div class="flex-1">Column 3</div>

Breakpoints and Media Queries

Each framework provides a set of default breakpoints to facilitate responsive design.

Tailwind CSS: Tailwind includes five default breakpoints: sm, md, lg, xl, and 2xl. These breakpoints can be customized or extended in the configuration file.

module.exports = {
  theme: {
    screens: {
      'sm': '640px',
      'md': '768px',
      'lg': '1024px',
      'xl': '1280px',
      '2xl': '1536px',
  variants: {},
  plugins: [],

Bootstrap: Bootstrap provides five default breakpoints: xs, sm, md, lg, and xl. These breakpoints can be customized through Sass variables.

$grid-breakpoints: (
  xs: 0,
  sm: 576px,
  md: 768px,
  lg: 992px,
  xl: 1200px

OpenProps: OpenProps offers four default breakpoints: sm, md, lg, and xl. These breakpoints can be customized in the PostCSS configuration.

module.exports = {
  plugins: [
      theme: {
        screens: {
          'sm': '640px',
          'md': '768px',
          'lg': '1024px',
          'xl': '1280px',

Utility Classes for Responsive Design

Responsive utility classes are available in each framework to help developers create adaptive designs with ease.

Tailwind CSS: Tailwind offers various utility classes for handling responsive design, such as hidden, block, and inline. These classes can be combined with breakpoints to create responsive designs. Example:

<div class="hidden md:block">Visible on medium screens and above</div>
<div class="block md:hidden">Visible on small screens</div>

Bootstrap: Bootstrap provides a range of responsive utility classes, including d-none, d-block, and d-inline. These classes can be combined with breakpoints for responsive design. Example:

<div class="d-none d-md-block">Visible on medium screens and above</div>
<div class="d-block d-md-none">Visible on small screens</div>

OpenProps: OpenProps includes responsive utility classes similar to Tailwind and Bootstrap. These classes can be used in conjunction with breakpoints for responsive design. Example:

<div class="hidden md:block">Visible on medium screens and above</div>
<div class="block md:hidden">Visible on small screens</div>

Comparison: Performance and Optimization

File Size and Loading Speed

The file size of a CSS framework has a direct impact on page loading speed, making it an important factor to consider.

Tailwind CSS: The uncompressed file size of Tailwind is relatively large; however, it includes PurgeCSS by default, which significantly reduces the file size by removing unused CSS in production builds.

Bootstrap: Bootstrap has a larger file size compared to Tailwind (after PurgeCSS) and OpenProps. Developers can optimize the file size by customizing the Sass imports and only including the components they need.

OpenProps: OpenProps has the smallest file size among the three frameworks, making it ideal for projects where performance is a priority.

Built-in Optimization Features

Each framework offers various optimization features to improve performance.

Tailwind CSS: Tailwind integrates PurgeCSS, which removes unused CSS classes during production builds. The configuration file also allows for easy customization of the generated CSS.

Bootstrap: Developers can optimize Bootstrap by customizing the Sass imports and only including the necessary components. Additionally, Bootstrap can be minified using tools like cssnano for further optimization.

OpenProps: OpenProps is built with performance in mind, resulting in a smaller file size by default. Developers can further optimize OpenProps by customizing the utility classes in the configuration file and using PostCSS plugins like cssnano for minification.

Integration with Performance Tools

Compatibility with performance optimization tools is an important aspect when considering a CSS framework.

Tailwind CSS: Tailwind is built with modern build tools in mind, making it easy to integrate with tools like PostCSS, Webpack, and Gulp. Its PurgeCSS integration automatically removes unused CSS during production builds.

Bootstrap: Bootstrap can be optimized using various tools, such as Sass for customization, PostCSS for autoprefixing and minification, and bundlers like Webpack and Gulp for asset management.

OpenProps: Being built with PostCSS, OpenProps easily integrates with modern build tools, such as Webpack and Gulp. Developers can further optimize OpenProps by including additional PostCSS plugins, such as autoprefixer and cssnano.

Comparison: Accessibility and Browser Compatibility

Accessibility Support

Accessibility is a crucial aspect of web development, ensuring that websites and applications are usable by all users, regardless of their abilities or the devices they use.

Tailwind CSS: While Tailwind does not include specific accessibility features out-of-the-box, its utility-first approach enables developers to easily create accessible designs by following best practices. Developers should be mindful of color contrast, focus states, and semantic HTML when using Tailwind CSS.

Bootstrap: Bootstrap is built with accessibility in mind and includes various accessibility features by default, such as ARIA attributes and accessible components. It also offers documentation on best practices for creating accessible designs.

OpenProps: Similar to Tailwind, OpenProps does not include built-in accessibility features. However, developers can create accessible designs by adhering to best practices and using semantic HTML.

Cross-Browser Compatibility

Ensuring that websites and applications work consistently across different browsers is an essential aspect of web development.

Tailwind CSS: Tailwind supports modern browsers, including the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. It also includes built-in support for Internet Explorer 11 with the @apply directive, although some features may not work as expected.

Bootstrap: Bootstrap boasts excellent cross-browser compatibility, supporting the latest versions of major browsers and providing limited support for Internet Explorer 10 and 11.

OpenProps: OpenProps supports modern browsers, including the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. However, it does not provide official support for Internet Explorer.

Comparison: Community and Ecosystem

Popularity and Adoption

The popularity and adoption of a CSS framework can indicate its usefulness and the availability of resources and support.

Tailwind CSS: Tailwind has gained significant popularity and adoption since its inception. Notable companies using Tailwind CSS include GitHub, Laravel, and Segment.

Bootstrap: As one of the most widely-used CSS frameworks, Bootstrap is employed by numerous companies and projects, such as Twitter, Spotify, and Udacity.

OpenProps: While OpenProps is not as popular as Tailwind or Bootstrap, it has a growing community and is increasingly being adopted by developers seeking a minimalist and performance-focused solution.

Documentation and Learning Resources

Comprehensive documentation and learning resources are essential for developers to quickly understand and utilize a CSS framework effectively.

Tailwind CSS: Tailwind offers extensive official documentation, and there are numerous tutorials, courses, and community resources available for learning Tailwind CSS.

Bootstrap: Bootstrap provides detailed documentation covering all aspects of the framework. Additionally, numerous tutorials, courses, and community resources can be found online.

OpenProps: OpenProps has clear and concise documentation, but the availability of tutorials and learning resources is limited compared to Tailwind and Bootstrap.

Plugins and Extensions

Plugins and extensions can enhance the functionality and customization options of a CSS framework.

Tailwind CSS: Tailwind has a growing ecosystem of plugins and extensions, such as tailwindcss-typography, tailwindcss-aspect-ratio, and tailwindcss-forms.

Bootstrap: Numerous Bootstrap plugins and extensions are available, including bootstrap-select, bootstrap-datepicker, and bootstrap-switch.

OpenProps: While OpenProps has a smaller ecosystem compared to Tailwind and Bootstrap, it benefits from its compatibility with PostCSS plugins.

Integrating CSS Frameworks with Popular Development Tools

Front-End Frameworks

Integrating CSS frameworks with popular front-end frameworks like React, Vue, and Angular is often required for modern web development projects.

Tailwind CSS: Tailwind integrates smoothly with React, Vue, and Angular. There are community-built libraries and resources available to assist with the integration process, such as twin.macro for React and vue-tailwind for Vue. Developers should follow best practices and utilize component-based styling for seamless integration.

Bootstrap: Bootstrap can be easily integrated with React, Vue, and Angular using the official or community-built libraries, such as reactstrap, bootstrap-vue, and ng-bootstrap. These libraries provide pre-built components that follow each framework's conventions and best practices.

OpenProps: OpenProps can be integrated with React, Vue, and Angular, thanks to its PostCSS foundation. Developers can follow best practices and utilize component-based styling for seamless integration.

Build Tools and Task Runners

Setting up CSS frameworks with build tools and task runners like Webpack, Gulp, and Grunt is crucial for optimizing and managing the development process.

Tailwind CSS: Tailwind can be easily configured with Webpack, Gulp, and Grunt, leveraging PostCSS for processing. The official documentation provides guides for setting up Tailwind with these tools.

Bootstrap: Bootstrap, based on Sass, can be integrated with Webpack, Gulp, and Grunt using the appropriate loaders and plugins. The Bootstrap documentation and community resources offer guidelines for integration with these tools.

OpenProps: OpenProps, being built with PostCSS, can be seamlessly configured with Webpack, Gulp, and Grunt. Developers can follow standard PostCSS configuration practices for successful integration.

Version Control and Deployment

Managing CSS framework files in version control systems and following deployment best practices are essential aspects of web development projects.

Tailwind CSS: Developers should include the Tailwind configuration file and any custom CSS in version control while excluding the generated output file. Continuous integration (CI) tools can be configured to build the CSS during deployment, ensuring an optimized and up-to-date production build.

Bootstrap: When using the Sass version of Bootstrap, developers should include the custom Sass files and configuration in version control. Similar to Tailwind, it is recommended to configure CI tools to compile the Sass files during deployment.

OpenProps: For OpenProps, the PostCSS configuration file and any custom CSS should be included in version control. As with Tailwind and Bootstrap, CI tools can be configured to process the CSS during deployment, ensuring optimal performance.

Choosing the Right Framework for Your Project

Factors to Consider

Selecting the right CSS framework depends on project requirements, constraints, and personal preferences. Factors to consider include customization needs, performance, accessibility, browser compatibility, and the availability of community resources.

Pros and Cons Summary

Each framework has its strengths and weaknesses:

  • Tailwind CSS: Offers extensive customization, utility-first design, and a vibrant community. However, it may require more effort to create accessible designs and maintain browser compatibility.
  • Bootstrap: Provides comprehensive pre-built components, accessibility features, and excellent browser compatibility, but may have a larger file size and less flexibility in customization.
  • OpenProps: Boasts a minimalist and performance-focused approach with a smaller file size. However, it may require more effort to create accessible designs and has limited community resources compared to Tailwind and Bootstrap.

Align your framework choice with project goals to ensure the most suitable solution for your specific needs.

Staying Up-to-Date with CSS Frameworks

Tracking Updates and Releases

Follow official channels, release notes, and community forums to stay informed about new features, improvements, and potential breaking changes in your chosen CSS framework.

Upgrading and Updating Your Project

Develop a strategy for updating your CSS framework, considering factors such as backward compatibility, testing, and potential disruption to your project. Regularly updating your framework ensures access to the latest features, improvements, and bug fixes.


Understanding the nuances of each CSS framework is essential for choosing the best solution for your web development projects. This deep dive into Tailwind CSS, Bootstrap, and OpenProps provides an overview of their features, performance, customization capabilities, and community ecosystems, allowing you to make an informed decision based on your specific needs and preferences.

Continuous learning and experimentation are key to staying up-to-date with the ever-evolving landscape of web development. By actively following updates, releases, and best practices, you can ensure that your projects remain optimized, accessible, and compatible across browsers.

Ultimately, the right CSS framework for your project will depend on your unique requirements, constraints, and goals. By weighing the pros and cons of each framework and aligning your choice with your project's objectives, you can create high-quality, responsive, and accessible web experiences that cater to the diverse needs of your users.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use multiple CSS frameworks in the same project?

While it is technically possible to use multiple CSS frameworks in the same project, it is generally not recommended. Combining frameworks can lead to conflicting styles, increased file sizes, and maintenance challenges. It is best to choose a single framework that meets your project's needs and customize it as necessary.

How do I decide between utility-first and component-based frameworks?

Utility-first frameworks, like Tailwind CSS, provide a set of utility classes that you can use to build custom designs from scratch. Component-based frameworks, like Bootstrap, offer pre-built components with predefined styles. If you prioritize customization and flexibility, a utility-first framework may be a better choice. If you prefer a ready-to-use set of components with consistent design, a component-based framework might be more suitable.

How important is community support when choosing a CSS framework?

Community support can play a crucial role in the success of your project. A vibrant community can provide valuable resources, such as tutorials, plugins, extensions, and support forums, making it easier to learn and work with a specific framework. More popular frameworks, like Tailwind CSS and Bootstrap, typically have larger communities and more extensive resources compared to less popular options, like OpenProps.

How do I ensure my website remains accessible when using a CSS framework?

Regardless of the chosen CSS framework, it is essential to follow accessibility best practices. These include using semantic HTML, providing appropriate color contrast, ensuring keyboard navigation, and adding ARIA attributes where necessary. Some frameworks, like Bootstrap, include built-in accessibility features, while others, like Tailwind CSS and OpenProps, may require more manual effort to ensure accessible designs.

Can I create my own custom CSS framework?

Yes, creating a custom CSS framework is an option if you have specific requirements that existing frameworks do not meet. Developing a custom framework allows you to tailor the styles, components, and utilities to your unique needs. However, creating and maintaining a custom framework can be time-consuming and may not be feasible for all projects. Before embarking on this route, carefully consider whether an existing framework can be customized to meet your needs.

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