Ethan Mick
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Add Tailwind CSS

It's time to get serious about building out the functionality of your app. To do that, you're going to want to add some additional libraries that make creating a well-designed app easier. One of the best current CSS libraries is Tailwind, a set of utility CSS classes that you can mix and match to make your app unique.

Why Tailwind CSS?

One of the great things about using Tailwind is it is a CSS framework, not a React library. Therefore, using Tailwind means the time spent learning it will transfer to another project even if that project is not written in React. For example, Tailwind does a great job of building simple web pages and beautiful landing pages besides full web apps.

Another great thing about Tailwind is it's very close to the underlying CSS. So each of the classes maps to the CSS property that it manages, and it is straightforward to peek under the hood and read the documentation to know what Tailwind is doing.


To set up Tailwind in Create React App, install the following dependencies.

npm install -D tailwindcss postcss autoprefixer

Then, create the new configuration file for Tailwind.

npx tailwindcss init -p

Why is a configuration file needed?

Tailwind is more than just a CSS Framework. Tailwind has several built-in features that make it more useful than a simple utility library.

Auto prefixing is a timesaving feature that allows you not to worry about *all of the unique prefixes for browser compatibility. Tailwind will take care *of that for you.

Auto pruning will automatically take out all of the CSS not being used in *your application. This process will result in a smaller application bundle and *better load times.

Plugins can be added to the configuration file, allowing you to access extra functionality not included in the core.

Just in time compiling allows for you to write custom Tailwind classes and have it compile those classes to the correct underlying CSS.

These features are possible because Tailwind monitors and watches your code as you write and compile, allowing it to be efficient about what is included in the final bundle.

Since you are already using TypeScript and React, there is already a build process to get the code as written to a compiled version the browser understands. Adding in Tailwind hooks into that process and doesn't require additional steps.

Add your paths to the default configuration for where Tailwind will find your source code:

module.exports = {
content: ['./src/**/*.{js,jsx,ts,tsx}'],
theme: {
extend: {},
plugins: [],

Remember way back in the getting started blog post when you removed the index.css file because you weren't using it? Now you want to use it. Tailwind reads the source files of all your code and examines which classes are used. Then, it creates a unique CSS file for your application and includes it in the bundle. To include this custom bundle and have it available on every page, the CSS needs to be available at the root application level. That's what the index.css file is for, so recreate it and add in the following new Tailwind directives:

@tailwind base;
@tailwind components;
@tailwind utilities;

And then, since we removed it earlier, add it back into the index.tsx file.

import './index.css'

Now you can start the application, and you will have the power of Tailwind! Time to start using it.

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