Pete Fowler

The case for vanilla CSS

Photo by Jackson Sophat on Unsplash

The case for vanilla CSS

No need to get fancy early in the early stages of learning. Do it the "hard way" and develop a deeper understanding.

Pete Fowler's photo
Pete Fowler
·Sep 19, 2022·

2 min read

Other People's Code

Web developers rely heavily on other people's code - from a computer's operating system to text editors that have been built like VS Code, to front-end frameworks like React and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) frameworks like Tailwind or Bootstrap. No one is building a website by writing in 1s and 0s and going through all the steps to build the first computer, then build first operating system, and so on. This saves an incredible amount of time and allows us to stand on the shoulders of existing achievements.

But when it comes to someone just starting out and "learning" CSS by immediately making use of a framework is limiting and inappropriate. Sure, you could probably get something nicer looking built faster, and that is the way it often works in the professional world. But do you want to use someone else's code and have little or no idea what it is doing, or do you want to have deeper knowledge?


Go vanilla or go home

Besides increasing your knowledge base, working with vanilla CSS will avoid the downsides of using CSS frameworks often criticized as bloated and slow:

  • Total control over the user interface (UI)
  • No generic look to UI components and websites looking the same
  • No increased overhead from a framework that slows down site loading
  • No forgetting how to write vanilla CSS and what is actually occurring


CSS frameworks can save time and effort for UI styling, but they're bloated, slower, and abstract the developer away from what is actually going on, which is inappropriate and limiting for anyone still learning that does not already have a strong knowledge base.

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