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Tailwind CDN: How to Enhance User Experience Twofold

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) have become a fundamental part of web development, offering a plethora of benefits such as improved website load speed, reduced bandwidth costs, increased content availability, and redundancy, among others. As developers, we are continuously looking for ways to enhance users’ experiences, and using CDNs is one remarkable way of achieving this. This article aims to explore the benefits and usage of Tailwind CSS CDN, a combination of the popular utility-first CSS framework, Tailwind CSS, and the advantages of a CDN.

Let’s dive in!

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What is Tailwind CSS CDN?

Tailwind CSS is a utility-first CSS framework that provides low-level utility classes to help you build completely custom designs without ever leaving your HTML. It differs from other CSS frameworks like Bootstrap or Materialize CSS which provide predefined components. Instead, Tailwind allows you to construct your own unique design using utility classes.

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a network of servers distributed globally, working together to provide fast delivery of Internet content. A CDN allows for the quick transfer of assets needed for loading Internet content, including HTML pages, javascript files, stylesheets, images, and videos. You can read this Cloudfare article on “What is a CDN” for further understanding.

Tailwind CSS CDN combines the utility-first CSS framework with the benefits of a CDN. It allows developers to use the Tailwind CSS library from a CDN, rather than having to download and host the library locally.

The key advantages of using Tailwind CSS CDN include:

  • Faster load times due to the CDN

  • No need to set up a local development environment for Tailwind

  • The ability to easily use Tailwind in simple projects or for quick prototyping.

Getting Started With Tailwind CSS CDN

Step 1 – Create an empty folder

First, create an empty folder on your local machine where you will set up your project.

Step 2 – Create index.html file

Next, within the newly created folder, open it using visual studio code or any code editor of choice, then create an index.html file. This file will serve as the main page of your project.

Step 3 – Add basic HTML

In the index.html file, add a simple HTML boilerplate. This is just basic HTML code that includes doctype, head, and body tags.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
    <meta charset="UTF-8">
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
    <title>Tailwind CSS CDN</title>
</head>
<body>
    <h1>Tailwind CSS CDN</h1>
    <p>Welcome to this TailwindCSS CDN Tutorial, I am Victor</p>
</body>
</html>

Step 4 – How to include the Tailwindcss CDN script in your HTML file

To include the Tailwind CSS CDN in your project, you need to add the Tailwind CSS script tag to the <head> of your HTML file. This script tag links your HTML file to the Tailwind CSS library on the CDN.

<head>
  <script src="https://cdn.tailwindcss.com"></script>
</head>

Step 5 – Add Tailwind Elements

After including the Tailwind CSS CDN in your HTML file, you can start using Tailwind classes to style your HTML elements. For example, you can style the h1 header with some Tailwind classes like this:

<h1 class="text-3xl font-bold underline">Tailwind CSS CDN</h1>

This will render a heading with a size of 3xl, bold font, and an underline

Using plugins with Tailwind CDN

Plugins in Tailwind CSS are additional packages that you can include in your Tailwind CSS project to extend its functionality. They allow you to create new utility classes and variants with JavaScript, which you can then reuse across as many projects as you want.

For example, the Typography plugin is designed to provide you with a set of prose classes that you can use to style vanilla HTML content into a well-formatted document. This plugin automatically adds beautiful typographic defaults to your HTML content, making it an excellent tool for styling articles, blog posts, or any other text-heavy content.

Here is a basic HTML content without adding the Typography plugin

<div class="w-full h-screen bg-gradient-to-br from-yellow-200 to-blue-200 via-cyan-200 p-12">
   <div>
     <h1>PureCode</h1>
     <p>PureCode has designed and built a developer tool that turns a design image into fully functional front-end code.<p>
     <p>With agoal to eliminate manual HTML, CSS, and JS development, it allows companies and developers to ship code faster and cheaper. Our proprietary technology uses computer vision and AI to go from design to code.</p>
   </div>
</div>>

However, when the prose-lg class is added, you will notice a change in style.

 <div class="w-full h-screen bg-gradient-to-br from-yellow-200 to-blue-200 via-cyan-200 p-12">
        <div class="prose prose-lg">
            <h1>PureCode</h1>
            <p>PureCode has designed and built a developer tool that turns a design image into fully functional front-end code.<p>
            <p>With agoal to eliminate manual HTML, CSS, and JS development, it allows companies and developers to ship code faster and cheaper. Our proprietary technology uses computer vision and AI to go from design to code.</p>
        </div>
    </div>

For this style to take effect, you will need to include the Typography plugin in your Tailwind CDN script like this

<script src="https://cdn.tailwindcss.com?plugins=typography"></script>

Now when you save, you will see the change in the Typography of your HTML content

Some other plugins you can use with Tailwind CDN

Aspect Ratio

This plugin adds aspect-ratio utilities to Tailwind CSS. It is useful when you want to maintain a specific width-to-height ratio for an element. This is particularly handy for responsive image handling.

Include this plugin using:

<script src="https://cdn.tailwindcss.com?plugins=aspect-ratio"></script>

Forms

Tailwind CSS Forms is a plugin that provides a base set of styles for form elements. This plugin is useful because it helps you to reset and redefine form styles in a way that is consistent with the philosophy of Tailwind CSS.

To include this plugin, use:

<script src="https://cdn.tailwindcss.com?plugins=forms"></script>

Line Clamp

This plugin provides utilities for visually truncating text after a fixed number of lines. It’s useful when you want to limit the number of lines of text displayed and end with an ellipsis (…).

To include this plugin, use:

<script src="https://cdn.tailwindcss.com?plugins=line-clamp"></script>

Remember, you can use multiple plugins by separating them with commas:

<script src="https://cdn.tailwindcss.com?plugins=typography,aspect-ratio,forms,line-clamp"></script>

Please note that while these plugins add more functionality to Tailwind CSS, they also add to the size of your CSS file, which may impact load times. Therefore, it’s important to only include the plugins that you need.

Adding Configurations to your Tailwind CDN

One of the powerful features of Tailwind CSS is the ability to customize its default configuration, allowing you to tailor the framework to meet your project’s specific needs. However, when using Tailwind CSS via a CDN, you can’t modify the default configuration file as it’s stored on the CDN. Instead, you can use the Tailwind Config Viewer tool to generate a custom configuration file and then include it in your HTML project

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
    <meta charset="UTF-8" />
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0" />
    <script src="https://cdn.tailwindcss.com"></script>
    <script>
      tailwind.config = {
        theme: {
          extend: {
            colors: {
              clifford: "#da373d",
            },
          },
        },
      }
    </script>

Now you can use the clifford class in your HTML content.

<h1 class="text-clifford">PureCode</h1>

This will change the text color of the h1 tag to #da373d

Adding custom CSS styles using CDN

Tailwind CSS CDN supports custom CSS styles, giving access to all Tailwind features. You can add custom styles to your HTML file using the traditional <style> tag in the HTML file. You also get to benefit from Tailwind’s utility classes.

 <style type="text/tailwindcss">
        @layer utilities {
          .bg-primary {
            @apply bg-gradient-to-br 
            from-yellow-200 
            to-blue-200 
            via-orange-200
          }
        }
      </style>

Now you can assign that .bg-primary custom style to any element in your HTML content.

<div class="w-full h-screen p-12 bg-primary">
        <div class="prose prose-lg">
            <h1 class="text-clifford">PureCode</h1>
            <p>PureCode has designed and built a developer tool that turns a design image into fully functional front-end code.<p>
            <p>With agoal to eliminate manual HTML, CSS, and JS development, it allows companies and developers to ship code faster and cheaper. Our proprietary technology uses computer vision and AI to go from design to code.</p>
        </div>
    </div>

Here we used the custom style for our parent div, and when you save your changes and check your browser you will see the style applied

Pros and Cons of using Tailwind CSS CDN

Pros

Faster load times: Using a CDN for Tailwind CSS can significantly reduce load times by serving the library from the server closest to the user. This is one of the key benefits of using a CDN and can lead to a better user experience, especially for users who are geographically far from your server.

Browser caching: CDN-hosted files are typically cached by the browser. This means that if a user visits multiple sites that use the same CDN-hosted version of Tailwind CSS, their browser only needs to download it once. This can further improve load times and reduce bandwidth usage.

Ease of use and convenience: There’s no need to set up a local development environment for Tailwind or configure a build process when using a CDN. This makes it a great option for simple projects or quick prototyping.

Cons

Less customization: The level of customization available when using Tailwind CSS via a CDN is less compared to when using it locally. The more plugins you add for example, the more it will add to the size of your CSS file, which may impact load times.

Not suitable for large-scale projects: Loading the entire library of Tailwind classes and styles via a CDN may lead to longer load times, especially for larger projects. This can affect SEO rankings, as loading speed plays a pivotal role in search engine rankings.

Dependence on the CDN: If the CDN goes down or if there are any issues with the network, your styles won’t load. This reliance on the CDN could potentially be a downside.

Potential breaking changes: The URL for the Tailwind CSS CDN always points to the latest version of Tailwind CSS. This means your project will automatically use the latest version, which could introduce breaking changes.

pros and cons of tailwind cdn

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How does Tailwind CSS CDN differ from the standard Tailwind CSS approach?

The key difference between using Tailwind CSS locally and via a CDN is the setup process and the level of customization available. When using Tailwind CSS locally, you need to set up a local development environment and a build process using a tool like PostCSS. This setup process allows you to customize Tailwind’s default configuration, easily add plugins, and create custom styles, which is not too convenient when using the CDN. On the other hand, using the CDN is quicker and easier, but it offers less customization.

Is Tailwind CSS CDN suitable for large-scale projects?

While using Tailwind CSS via a CDN is great for simple projects or quick prototyping, it may not be the best choice for larger projects. This is because Tailwind scans your site’s code and generates a built CSS file that only contains the styles for the classes you are using on your site. However, with Tailwind CDN, you are loading the entire library of Tailwind classes and styles which will have to be downloaded by your visitor’s browser when they visit your site.

And since the CDN JS file is a lot bigger than your CSS file would be, and the styles are applied at run-time which means there is a possibility of having flashes of unstyled content. This is especially noticeable if you ever have elements that are dynamically added to the page after it first loads or when the site visitor has a poor internet connection. Furthermore, this adversely affects SEO rankings, as loading speed plays a pivotal role in search engine rankings.

Should you use Tailwind CSS CDN in production?

While it’s technically possible to use Tailwind CSS CDN in production, it’s generally not recommended, especially for larger projects. This is because of performance issues that will occur. You can read more about optimizing for production from the Tailwind css documentation.

Can I still customize the styles with Tailwind CSS CDN?

Yes, you can. You can add plugins, customize your configuration, and add custom CSS.

How do I stay updated with the latest version of Tailwind CSS CDN?

The URL for the Tailwind CSS play CDN always points to the latest version of Tailwind CSS. This means that your project will automatically use the latest version of Tailwind CSS as long as you’re using the CDN. However, keep in mind that this can also be a downside if a new version introduces breaking changes.

Are there any security concerns with using Tailwind CSS CDN?

It’s safe in terms of security, it’s just not a good choice for performance.

Tips for Using Tailwind CSS CDN

Here are some tips and best practices to make the most out of Tailwind CSS CDN:

  • Use HTML5 Doctype and Meta Tags: When using Tailwind CSS via a CDN, ensure that your HTML documents use the HTML5 doctype and include the necessary meta tags for responsiveness on all devices. This is to ensure that Tailwind’s styles work properly across different devices and screen sizes.

  • Use Plugins Wisely: While plugins can extend the functionality of Tailwind CSS, they also add to the size of your CSS file. Therefore, only include the plugins that you need to keep the file size manageable.

  • Understand the Limitations: Be aware of the limitations of using Tailwind CSS via a CDN, such as less customization and potentially longer load times for larger projects. Consider these factors when deciding whether to use the CDN or a local setup.

  • Stay Updated with the Latest Version: The URL for the Tailwind CSS CDN always points to the latest version of Tailwind CSS. This means your project will automatically use the latest version, but it could introduce breaking changes. Be sure to regularly check for updates and test your site when a new version is released.

  • Create a Local Config File for Autocompletion: Even if you’re using Tailwind CSS via CDN, consider creating a local tailwind.config.js file. This allows your code editor to provide useful features like syntax completion, enhancing your development experience.

Final Thoughts

Tailwind CSS CDN offers a unique approach that combines the benefits of the utility-first CSS framework and a Content Delivery Network. It provides speedy load times, ease of use, and convenience, making it an excellent choice for small projects or quick prototyping. However, it’s important to note that it might not be the best choice for larger, more complex projects due to the performance issues it introduces; like longer load time which can affect SEO.

Despite these limitations, Tailwind CSS CDN is still a powerful tool that can significantly enhance your web development process. Its key advantages such as ease of use make it an attractive option for developers.

In conclusion, whether you should use Tailwind CSS CDN or not depends on your project’s needs and the level of customization you require. However, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of going with the CDN route can help you make the best decision for your project.

To learn more about Tailwind and other features it offers check out the Tailwind css documentation and the following resources

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https://blogs.purecode.ai/blogs/
Victor Yakubu

Victor Yakubu