Foundation Adopts CSS Grid, Launches Building Blocks

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April 14, 2017
Foundation Adopts CSS Grid, Launches Building Blocks.
If you don't write a lot of CSS yourself, you might think of CSS Grid as that thing Rachel Andrew keeps tweeting about. Well, it's a whole new system for layout, and Zurb is apparently following her feed. So are most browser vendors. At the time of this writing, CSS Grid is supported in the following browsers:
  • Chrome. Enabled by default since version 57.
  • Firefox. Enabled by default since version 53.
  • Internet Explorer. Enabled by default since IE10
  • Opera. Enabled by default since version 44.
  • Safari. Enabled by default since version 10.1.
That's right. Internet Explorer got there first. It's always a little awkward when that happens. Anyway, this info comes from Zurb themselves, who have announced the inclusion of CSS Grid in Foundation in their latest blog post. They have three reasons for the switch:

They want to stay ahead of the pack

Foundation has made its bread and butter by staying out in front of emerging web technologies, and giving web designers a reason to adopt them. If you want long-term legacy browser support, there are other frameworks for that. Foundation likes new things, and so do its users. For them, this kind of fairly-early change is business as usual, rather than a radical departure from the norm.

CSS Grid is just better for big layout stuff

On the surface, it seems like Flexbox meets the same needs as CSS Grid, and the support's already here. Well, it's not as simple as all that. While Flexbox was certainly an improvement on the old float-some-things-and-absolutely-position-others school of layout, it was not without its quirks. It lends itself more easily to allowing your content to define how it's displayed. People seem to agree that it's great for laying out content within the smaller elements of a page. CSS Grid seems to have been designed with the larger page layout in mind. It makes it easier to create, manage, and “responsify” large layouts with fewer lines of CSS than other options. As easy layouts are sort of Foundation's whole deal, it makes sense for them to incorporate CSS Grid.

They think we should ditch the page metaphor anyway

Zurb and many others seems to believe that the whole concept of the “page” is going the way of the dodo, at least for designers and developers. CSS Grid apparently works quite well with modular systems that treat layouts as a collection of reusable elements rather than a single page. This way of thinking is especially popular with developers and designers who work on apps or very large websites more than five-page brochure sites. That includes Zurb. Go figure.

The way forward is paved with Building Blocks

Is this a good thing for web des… yeah I'm not even going to finish that. CSS Grid is taking off big-time. Foundation adopting it means that it is, for the foreseeable future, pretty much official: CSS Grid is a thing. And hey, it might take some getting used to, but I like it. Besides, Zurb isn't stopping there. The adoption of CSS Grid has led Zurb even further down the path of modular code. They just released a new set of pre-coded UI components that they're calling Building Blocks. Building blocks will not be part of the Foundation core. They're extensions. Download them, drop them into your project, and go. So far, they consist of individual UI elements coded by Zurb — as well as code patterns created by the community — specifically to work with Foundation. Then there are curated sets of Building Blocks called Kits, that are designed to make it easier to build a specific kind of site. There are kits for eCommerce sites, portfolio sites, admin dashboards, and more. Readers with eidetic memories may remember that Rafi Benkual talked about this very concept back in our interview with him and Kevin Ball. Well, they've done it. It seems Zurb is determined to make it easier for designers to focus on UX concerns and aesthetics without doing all of the grunt work themselves. And push the web forward. I can get behind that.

Ezequiel Bruni

Ezequiel Bruni is a web/UX designer, blogger, and aspiring photographer living in Mexico. When he’s not up to his finely-chiselled ears in wire-frames and front-end code, or ranting about the same, he indulges in beer, pizza, fantasy novels, and stand-up comedy.

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