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Tailwind Dropdown: How to Create a Quality Button Menu

Overview of Tailwind CSS

Tailwind CSS is a utility-first CSS framework for styling custom user interfaces in the fastest and easiest way. It’s a low-level CSS framework that gives you all of the building blocks you need to build bespoke designs without any annoying opinionated styles you have to fight to override, like Tailwind dropdown.

The beauty of Tailwind is that it doesn’t impose design specifications or how your site should look. It brings tiny components together that help make a unique user interface. Tailwind takes a ‘raw’ CSS file, process this CSS file over a configuration file, and produce an output.

In this article, we’ll be looking at how we can create dropdown menus using Tailwind dropdown CSS. But before we begin, let’s look at what dropdown menus are and how they’re different from select.

What is a Tailwind Dropdown Menu?

Dropdown menus are a list of options that are revealed only when a user interacts with a menu, either by clicking it or hovering over it with their cursor. The menu options then descend vertically and disappear again once the user disengages from the menu.

What is the Difference Between Tailwind Dropdown and Select?

A select and a dropdown are both types of user interface elements that present a list of options to users. However, there are some key differences between the two:

  • A select element is a form element that creates a drop-down list of options. It is typically used in forms for users to select one or more options from a predefined list. Select elements are created using the HTML “select” tag and can include one or more “option” tags to define the available options.
  • Dropdowns, on the other hand, are a user interface element that virtually display a list of options. Dropdowns can be created using various technologies, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Dropdowns often include a button or a toggle that, when clicked, will display a list of options.
  • Select elements are used to choose one option from a list, while dropdowns can have single or multiple selections.
  • Select elements are form controls for submitting form data, while dropdowns are more flexible, and can be used for navigation, filter, etc.
  • Select elements can be styled using CSS but with limited options, while dropdowns can have more advanced designs and animations using CSS and JavaScript.

Select elements are used in forms to allow users to select one or more options from a predefined list. At the same time, dropdowns are more versatile elements that display a list of options more visually.

How Do You Make a Drop Down in Tailwind?

There are different ways of creating a Tailwind CSS dropdown menu. Let’s quickly take a look at how to create a Tailwind dropdown menu without using any Tailwind CSS component library.

Installing Tailwind CSS: How to Code a Drop Down Menu

We have to install Tailwind CSS before building our Tailwind dropdown menu. There are many ways you can do this, for this section, we’ll be creating an HTML structure with Tailwind CDN.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <meta charset="UTF-8" />
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge" />
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0" />
    <title>Drop down meanu</title>
  </head>

  <body>
    <!-- Adding Tailwind CSS via CDN -->
    <script src="https://cdn.tailwindcss.com" defer></script>
  </body>
</html>

Adding The Dropdown HTML

Now that we have our HTML structure set up, we’ll need to create a div container with a class of “dropdown”.

...
<div class="dropdown inline-block relative">
  <!-- The dropdown button trigger -->
  <button class="bg-gray-300 text-gray-700 font-semibold py-2 px-4 rounded inline-flex items-center">
    <span class="mr-1">Dropdown</span>
    <svg class="fill-current h-4 w-4" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" viewBox="0 0 20 20"><path d="M9.293 12.95l.707.707L15.657 8l-1.414-1.414L10 10.828 5.757 6.586 4.343 8z"/> </svg>
  </button>

  <!-- The dropdown menu -->
  <ul class="dropdown-menu absolute hidden text-gray-700 pt-1">
    <li class="dropdown-item"><a class="rounded-t bg-gray-200 hover:bg-gray-400 py-2 px-4 block whitespace-no-wrap" href="#">One</a></li>
    <li class="dropdown-item"><a class="bg-gray-200 hover:bg-gray-400 py-2 px-4 block whitespace-no-wrap" href="#">Two</a></li>
    <li class="dropdown-item"><a class="bg-gray-200 hover:bg-gray-400 py-2 px-4 block whitespace-no-wrap" href="#">Three</a></li>
    <li class="dropdown-item"><a class="bg-gray-200 hover:bg-gray-400 py-2 px-4 block whitespace-no-wrap" href="#">Four</a></li>
    <li class="dropdown-item"><a class="bg-gray-200 hover:bg-gray-400 py-2 px-4 block whitespace-no-wrap" href="#">Five</a></li>
    <li class="dropdown-item"><a class="bg-gray-200 hover:bg-gray-400 py-2 px-4 block whitespace-no-wrap" href="#">Six</a></li>
    <li class="dropdown-item"><a class="rounded-b bg-gray-200 hover:bg-gray-400 py-2 px-4 block whitespace-no-wrap" href="#">Seven is a lucky number</a></li>
  </ul>
</div>
...

From the code example above, we have an HTML button and an unordered list created inside our dropdown div. The button will serve as the trigger for the Tailwind dropdown menu, and the unordered list will serve as the dropdown menu which will house our dropdown item.

Tailwind Dropdown Button

For now, when you hover over the dropdown menu button you won’t see any dropdown item, that’s because the ul class contains a class name called hidden which hides the dropdown menu.

How do I Make a Dropdown List Appear on Hover with Tailwind Dropdown Menu?

So how can we make the dropdown item in our dropdown menu appear when we hover over the button? Let’s dive into that. We need to create a CSS file with the code below and link the CSS file to our HTML;

.dropdown:hover .dropdown-menu {
  display: block;
}

Now, our HTML code should be like the example below;

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <meta charset="UTF-8" />
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge" />
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0" />
    <title>Drop down meanu</title>
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="style.css" />
  </head>

  <body>
    <div class="dropdown inline-block relative">
      <!-- The dropdown button trigger -->
      <button class="bg-gray-300 text-gray-700 font-semibold py-2 px-4 rounded inline-flex items-center">
        <span class="mr-1">Dropdown</span>
        <svg class="fill-current h-4 w-4" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" viewBox="0 0 20 20"><path d="M9.293 12.95l.707.707L15.657 8l-1.414-1.414L10 10.828 5.757 6.586 4.343 8z"/> </svg>
      </button>

      <!-- The dropdown menu -->
      <ul class="dropdown-menu absolute hidden text-gray-700 pt-1">
        <li class="dropdown-item"><a class="rounded-t bg-gray-200 hover:bg-gray-400 py-2 px-4 block whitespace-no-wrap" href="#">One</a></li>
        <li class=""><a class="bg-gray-200 hover:bg-gray-400 py-2 px-4 block whitespace-no-wrap" href="#">Two</a></li>
        <li class="dropdown-item"><a class="rounded-t bg-gray-200 hover:bg-gray-400 py-2 px-4 block whitespace-no-wrap" href="#">Three</a></li>
        <li class="dropdown-item"><a class="rounded-t bg-gray-200 hover:bg-gray-400 py-2 px-4 block whitespace-no-wrap" href="#">Four</a></li>
        <li class="dropdown-item"><a class="rounded-t bg-gray-200 hover:bg-gray-400 py-2 px-4 block whitespace-no-wrap" href="#">Five</a></li>
        <li class="dropdown-item"><a class="rounded-t bg-gray-200 hover:bg-gray-400 py-2 px-4 block whitespace-no-wrap" href="#">Six</a></li>
        <li class="dropdown-item"><a class="rounded-b bg-gray-200 hover:bg-gray-400 py-2 px-4 block whitespace-no-wrap" href="#">Seven is a lucky number</a></li>
      </ul>
    </div>

    <!-- Adding Tailwind CSS via CDN -->
    <script src="https://cdn.tailwindcss.com" defer></script>
  </body>
</html>

Now, when you hover over the button you’ll see that our dropdown item will appear.

Menu on Hover

It is important to note that you can also do this with Tailwind’s group hover. Unfortunately, the Tailwind CDN version does not include this variant, so you must add and adjust the tailwind.config.js file in your project. This codesandbox project contains an example of how to set up your project with the tailwind.config.js file.

This is just a basic example, more complex dropdowns can be built using Tailwind CSS classes or using Tailwind CSS component libraries.

Creating Dropdown Menus with Tailwind CSS Component Libraries

Tailwind CSS has gained immense popularity among developers due to its blend of flexibility and the simplicity offered by utility classes. However, it does come with a notable drawback: the extensive use of utilities can sometimes become quite laborious and time-consuming to work with.

Consequently, the recent surge in popularity of component frameworks built upon Tailwind CSS has been remarkable and offers a solution to this challenge. There are ways to insert dropdown in CSS with component libraries.

These Tailwind CSS component libraries enable developers to harness the strengths of both utility-first and component-based methodologies. In the following section, we will delve into a selection of the finest free and open-source Tailwind CSS component libraries presently available, exploring how they bridge the gap between flexibility and efficiency in web development.

  • Preline UI

  • Ripple UI

  • Sira

  • Tailwind Elements

Preline UI

Preline Ui Tailwind Css Component Library

Preline UI is a toolkit for Tailwind CSS with over 300 ready-made components and 160 starter pages, making website development faster. It also offers a big design system for Figma.

These components cover everything you need for building web layouts, forms, and basic elements like buttons and cards. There are also extra tools like accordions and modals.

Preline UI works with major web frameworks and has guides for customization and dark mode. However, it might not be the best fit for extremely complex projects.

Ripple UI

Ripple Ui Tailwind CSS Component Library

Ripple UI stands out as an excellent resource for constructing contemporary interfaces. It offers a robust collection of components and utilities to streamline web development.

This toolkit is very easy to install; you can either integrate it as a plugin through your preferred package manager or include it using a CDN link. Additionally, Ripple UI goes the extra mile by providing starter project templates tailored to popular frontend frameworks like Vue, React, Svelte, and others, giving you a head start on your development journey.

Ripple UI doesn’t just stop at the ease of integration; it arrives with a default theme ready for immediate use with the freedom to craft, adjust, or remove your custom themes, allowing for a personalized touch. Another added advantage is that Ripple UI seamlessly supports dark mode, adapting to user preferences.

It uses classes similar to Bootstrap but offers more flexibility like Tailwind CSS. So, if you want a modern look and lots of components for your project, Ripple UI is a good choice. But if you only need a few simple parts, you might want to consider other options.

Sira

Sira Tailwind CSS Design System

Sira is a design system with lots of handy pieces for creating good-looking and easy-to-use websites. It works smoothly with Vue, React, and other popular website-building tools.

Sira provides ready-made building blocks and design styles that you can quickly put together to make complex web pages. It even lets you change how things look with customizable themes, it also supports dark mode.

Besides components, Sira also offers utilities and snippets for even easier and more flexible customization.

If you want your website or app to look modern and have all the necessary building blocks, Sira is a great pick. It is especially for projects that fall in the range of simple to moderately complex.

Tailwind Elements

Tailwind Elements Ui Kit

Tailwind Elements offers an extensive collection of more than 500 UI components, covering a wide spectrum from basic components like headings, images, and icons to intricate components like interactive charts and comprehensive forms.

This component library adheres to a design system known as “Material Minimal,” which is a customized interpretation of Material Design, characterized by a refined and distinctive visual appeal.

One standout feature of Tailwind Elements is its user-friendly API, which simplifies the process of customizing components to align with your specific preferences and requirements. This flexibility empowers developers to tailor components precisely to their project’s needs.

It’s worth noting that while Tailwind Elements offers a wealth of resources, it may not be the most efficient choice for relatively small and straightforward projects, as the installation and setup process could potentially entail more effort than required. However, if this isn’t a concern for your project, you can confidently proceed with its use.

Tailwind Elements has comprehensive documentation, offering step-by-step guidance on aspects such as installation, configuration, and optimization of Tailwind CSS projects. Additionally, it provides insights into customization and theming, ensuring that users can adapt the library to their specific requirements.

For those working with major frontend frameworks like Angular, React, Svelte, or Vue, Tailwind Elements also supplies integration guides, facilitating seamless incorporation into these environments.

What are the Cons of Tailwind?

  • Setup and Learning Curve

    After becoming proficient in CSS, embracing Tailwind represents another layer of knowledge acquisition. The initial steps involve installation and configuring Tailwind to align with your specific preferences, should you deviate from the default settings.

    Subsequently, you’ll delve into understanding the conventions, class names, and the various facets of Tailwind’s functionality.

  • Inherent Limitations

    Although Tailwind is continually expanding its capabilities, it still has boundaries. Some CSS properties and advanced techniques lie beyond its scope.

    Occasionally, you might find yourself needing to incorporate inline styles or create custom classes alongside Tailwind to achieve specific design goals. While not a major drawback, it does mean that Tailwind isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

  • Potential Hindrance to CSS Mastery

    If you’re relatively new to CSS, it’s advisable to refrain from using Tailwind right away and learning the intricacies of how CSS works takes time, possibly several months or even years to master. So jumping straight into using a framework like Tailwind will leave you with some huge knowledge gaps that could affect your ability to do web development competently and compromise your ability to find work.

    Relying heavily on Tailwind without a strong CSS foundation might leave you with gaps in your web development skills and job prospects. It’s best used as a complement to CSS expertise, not a replacement.

What are the Pros of Tailwind?

  • Rapid Development

    Tailwind CSS enables developers to build websites and applications quickly. It provides a wide range of pre-designed utility classes that can be applied directly to HTML elements, reducing the need to write custom CSS code.

  • Consistency

    Tailwind can promote consistency in your project’s design. Since it uses a predefined set of classes, styling is consistent throughout the project. This can be especially helpful when working on large teams or maintaining complex projects.

  • Customization

    While Tailwind provides a comprehensive set of utility classes, it’s highly customizable. You can extend or modify the default utility classes to suit your project’s specific needs. This flexibility allows you to maintain a consistent design language while tailoring it to your requirements.

Wrapping Up

In this article, we covered how to build a dropdown menu using Tailwind CSS, we also looked at the differences between a select and a dropdown. And we went further to look at some Tailwind CSS component libraries that we can also use to build dropdowns.

If you’d like to learn how to built a Tailwind CSS dropdown in React, I’d recommend the video tutorials below:

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Shadrach Abba

Shadrach Abba