Add a CSS Framework

Damien Burke
2 min readFeb 17, 2021

Add a CSS Framework

Published: Feb 16th, 2021

This is part of Joyful Rails, a list of recommendations to make developing your Rails app more productive and joyful.

In this article, we are talking about adding a CSS framework.


When it comes time to make things pretty, use a good CSS framework to make that easier.


CSS frameworks exist for the same reasons Rails does. They make a lot of the decisions for you and give you pre-built components that you can combine and customize to make your app.



Bulma is good and doesn’t require any JavaScript.

Many CSS frameworks depend on JavaScript for basic functionality so they make your application completely unusable when the user does not have Javascript, when there is an issue downloading the JavaScript, or when there is a bug in the Javascript. Bulma has no JavaScript so it does not have that problem.

You can install it as an NPM package, load it remotely, download and use the compiled CSS, or download and use the source Sass. (That last option is unsupported.)

US Web Design System

The US Web Design System is beautiful, authoritative, completely accessible, and works with or without Javascript.

Because USWDS was built for Federal agencies, it has extremely high standards for accessibility. It is highly themeable but still tends towards a very formal, authoritative look.

It can be installed as an NPM package or as a source code download. There are several third party distributions but none suitable for a Rails application. I advise using the NPM package with Yarn.

Zurb Foundation

Foundation is very nice.

It can be installed in many different ways. However, currently the Rails gem foundation-rails has an issue with Rails 6

The workaround appears to include:

  1. installing Coffeescript for the duration of the install process.
  2. commenting out @include foundation-button-group; in app/assets/stylesheets/foundation_and_overrides.scss.



Damien Burke

Engineering leader with twenty years of experience in software startups