In favor of Basscss over Twitter Bootstrap

In favor of Basscss over Twitter Bootstrap

The Reign of Twitter Bootstrap

Twitter Bootstrap is the gold standard of front-end frameworks. Since its inception in 2011, it has seen 20 releases, and proven to be among the most popular open source projects in the world. As Bootstrap turns 4 years old, the development world awaits the release of v4. The fourth incantation of Bootstrap will see many great changes, including a transition from Less to Sass, inclusion of ems and rems over pixels, an enriched grid system, IE8 abandonment, and much, much more. Bootstrap advertises on their blog “120,000 lines of changes” and growing. But perhaps, the shear heft of the framework is what has me looking elsewhere.

Designers need Lean Frameworks

Simple websites won’t need the majority of the building blocks and materials found in Twitter Bootstrap. Most everyone would agree that the utility of Bootstrap is lost on dead simple sites, however I find the same is true for larger projects.

All designers should expect their frameworks to be just that, a framework. Bootstrap oversteps these bounds arching away from framework and more towards birdcage. Bootstrap is excellent at granting designers modular snippets of code to easily structure their websites. The column grid system and mobile first methodologies were transformative for many designers. The Bootstrap aesthetic has made reasonable design accessible to engineers and developers, and it has absolutely helped to liberate the world from the abyss of Web 2.0. Yet, as a designer, why settle for a good enough aesthetic, or worse, find yourself wrestling with the 77 stylesheets calling for border-radius, box-shadows and borders.

Instead why not ditch the aesthetic entanglement and choose a framework that aligns with a real designer’s needs?


Basscss is a “Low-Level CSS Toolkit” weighing in at just 3.5kb that grants the best of Bootstrap without the lipstick. The humanized naming conventions are a breeze, and you’ll quickly fall in love with the unassuming nature of Basscss, which doesn’t impose style, but rather facilitates it.

Basscss is hardly the only lean framework out there. You could also take a look a Skeleton, Cardinal, Furtive, Mueller Grid, and Toast. I’m also impressed with Joni Korpi’s take on Basscss, called Base-Files, which features less abstracted naming conventions, and serves as a great start point for a project.

June 01, 2016

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