Yes, I am talking about the CSS (cascading style sheets), as CSS is the easiest way how you can manipulate through your web development and designs. In the 90s even at the early 20s, the developers had to develop their CSS by their own, in order to create a website. But nowadays there are many application out there which are providing the ready-made CSS framework so that anyone starts with their web development projects easily. But, unfortunately for many individuals, CSS is a forgotten part of any web development, and due to that, they can not go ahead with their newly innovate project idea on their own.
In this article, we will be talking about the best and the most powerful open source & free CSS frameworks, which are the most popular and the best choices for developing straightforward & beautiful website frontends. These frameworks are easy to use and easy to learn, and a person with the required qualification for web development can comprehend these CSS frameworks very easily with no time.
Top Open Source CSS frameworks 2020
Here is a list of the open-source CSS frameworks randomly ordered, we are about to discuss along with their features.
Bootstrap is one of the most popular CSS frameworks according to any experienced web development professional. Bootstrap is also one of the first of its kind which started the CSS based frontend web design. Bootstrap has been developed by Twitter, so you can trust on the brand and also Bootstrap offers robust usability, intuitive functionality, and extensibility. Github page
- Bootstrap offers plenty of examples and preset layout to get you started
- With Bootstrap, the developers can stitch together different components and layouts to create a new and interesting page design. Also, lots of detailed documentation are provided with those layouts so that the layman users can understand them easily.
- If you know about GitHub and use their repository for easy access to pre-developed scripts then you should know that Bootstrap’s GitHub repository lists more than 19,000 commits and 1,100 contributors.
- Bootstrap is based on the MIT License, hence it is free to use, free to distribute, so you can develop and you can contribute to the community as well.
Bulma CSS framework
Bulma is a good option for frontend CSS framework and good for nice and intuitive designs. Bulma is open source and the core is based on Flexbox. Bulma is free under the MIT License. Bulma is a very lightweight and simple framework, and Bulma requires only one CSS file. See project Github.
- Bulma features clean and simple presets which make it easy to choose as per the topics the developer wants to explore.
- Bulma also provides a decent number of web components from which one can just pick up and use the design as per requirements and modification.
- Bulma’s GitHub page consists of more than 1,400 commits and 300 contributors.
Material Components for the web (MDC Web)
Yeah, I know the name is peculiar, but the product is not. It has its own highly successful Android platform along with Google set and it has its own standards of guidelines which are called Material Design. If we talk about the quality of Material Design standards, then those are intended to be reflected across all kind of Google products, so you can decide how high the quality can be. Github page.
- Though the framework is really dope and mainly targeted for the professional developers then also it is a free and open-source under the MIT License.
- Due to the components provided with Material Design, it is a very good choice for making the interactive user interface whether it is for a web-based application or for a mobile-based application.
- The maintainers of this CSS and also the active community keep providing thorough documentation for different platforms, for easy learning and understanding. The documentation also contains step-by-step tutorials along with exercises for accomplishing a different kind of objectives. So, for a newcomer, Material Design is a very good place for learning.
- The Material Components also has its own GitHub page, where there are repos for different platforms, including MDC Web. Also, the MDC Web has more than 5,700 commits and 349 contributors.
Pure CSS framework
Bootstrap, Patternfly, and MDC Web are the first three in this list as I like them personally very much. But they also have some of their own drawbacks. As the above three are very powerful CSS framework as I stated earlier, but they also are also quite heavy and complex. Even after the careful study of those provided documentations, one will need to possess the fundamental knowledge and skills of web development. But if you are looking for a lightweight CSS framework that it is, even more, easier and almost as closer to coding CSS yourself but also can help you to build a nice web page, then Pure.css is the thing you are looking for. Pure is a very lightweight CSS framework and also has a minimal footprint. Github Page.
- Pure was developed by Yahoo, so the product comes from a good brand value and it is now an open-source project under the BSD License.
- Though Pure.css is small in size, Pure offers plenty of the components necessary to build an intuitive
- Pure’s GitHub page contains more than 565 commits and 59 contributors.
Materialize is a responsive front-end framework for the keen users and Materialized is actually based on Google’s Material Design (MDC Web) with many additional themes and components developed by Materialize’s community contributors. So, it is like a ripped and modded version of the Google MDC Web. Github.
- The documentation page of Materializeis very comprehensive and pretty easy to follow up.
- Materialize’s components page includes buttons, cards, navigations, and many more added features.
- Materialize is another open-source project under the MIT License, so it is free.
- Materialize’s GitHub lists more than 3,800 commits and 250 contributors.
Foundation CSS framework
According to the developers, the Foundation.css is the most advanced responsive front-end framework at the market. I do not know it is best or not, but Foundation.css really provides some of the most advanced features which are not available even on the Bootstrap, PatternFly, MDC Web, and Foundation.css can be used to make the most high-end pro-level websites. Github Page.
- The framework is used by many companies, organizations, and even politicians, and it has plenty of documentation available.
- Foundation’s GitHub page shows nearly 17,000 commits and 1,000 contributors. Like most of the other frameworks on this list, it’s available under the MIT License.
PatternFly CSS framework
PatternFly is another open source and free CSS framework under the MIT License family. PatternFly is developed by the Red Hat. Though PatternFly is also another powerful CSS framework t is not the same as the Bootstrap as the approach is quite different in PatternFly.
As in Bootstrap, it is meant for anyone interested in creating a beautiful website for all kind of websites including Blog site, Video streaming site, e-commerce site etc, but PatternFly is primarily focused on enterprise-level web application developments. PatternFly provides many other inbuilt components, such as bars, charts, and navigations, as these are not very useful for all kinds of users; but very useful for creating very appealing, intuitive, convincing, metrics-driven and info-driven dashboards. Red Hat used this CSS framework for designing the OpenShift. Github Page.
- PatternFly supports the static HTML also the ReactJS framework. ReactJS framework has been used in the development by the Facebook website itself.
- PatternFly has many other advanced components for pro users, such as bars, charts, models, and layouts, which makes it more suitable for enterprise-level web development projects.
- PatternFly’s GitHub page also has a good amount of interaction along with more than 1,050 commits and 44 contributors.
- PatternFly is getting a lot of attention, and becoming even more powerful and popular day by day. So, it is high time to learn and use the PatternFly CSS framework.
Skeleton is probably the most lightweight CSS framework solution. If you find Pure.css is too heavy for you, there is nothing like a Skeleton for you. Skeleton is even more lighter-weight framework than Pure.css. Even in size, the Skeleton is so small like which you may never have seen anything. The overall library of Skeleton is only about 400 lines long. But, as the Skeleton.css is that small so it only provides the essential components to start your CSS framework journey. So, do not expect much from this one. Github Project page.
- Despite its simplicity, even in this size library, Skeleton offers many detailed docs to help the users to get started right away.
- Skeleton’s GitHub lists 167 commits and 22 contributors.
- Also, one thing you should keep in mind that the Skeleton is not alive or even most active project. The last update was in 2014 as far as I know. So you may need to change a couple of things even in the CSS framework here and there, and to learn about those just Google it or find tutorials on YouTube.
- Skeleton is under the MIT License, hence it is free and you can even modify it of your own.
As the name implies the Bootflat has a relation with the Bootstrap as it is a modded and derived version of Twitter’s Bootstrap itself. Bootflat is a very dependable open-source CSS framework for frontend designs. But remember Compared to Bootstrap, the Bootflat is way simpler, and even lighter-weight, so it posses even lesser components and features than the Bootstrap. Project page.
- Bootflat’s documentation is a little different and inspired by IKEA. Here an image of the components and its functions are shown instead of text-based explanations.
- Bootflat is available under the MIT License, hence it is free.
- On GitHub page, it has 159 commits and eight contributors as per my knowledge.
I have listed all the best front end web development CSS frameworks. Now as per your projects requirements and the system requires you should choose which one to use. There are many pro developers out there who uses multiple CSS frameworks various kinds of projects, so there is no need to stick with one.
If you are a new developer or student in this field I would suggest to try all of them and play around all the features, as you would definitely learn many things by doing that. Practical knowledge and experience is very precious in IT development, so earn as much as you can. Also while using any of the given CSS frameworks here, do not limit your imaginations within the provided framework, as you can edit those and add any feature as you like or need, so try to innovate and keep going out of the box to end up with a beautiful and intuitive web page for your project.