Photo by Dan Cristian Pădureț on Unsplash

When I started learning web development, I stumbled over a few hurdles.

For example, I was happy to have finally understood how flexbox works. And suddenly every Youtuber comes along with a tutorial telling me to use grid.

I was confused and annoyed as I have just created an entire website with flexbox. And now grid is supposed to be better?

However, through a combination of research, experimentation, and practical application, I eventually learned when and how to use each layout system effectively.

In this article, I’ll share my journey and provide insights to help you make the right choice for your projects.

Understanding CSS Grid and Flexbox

Before we get started, let’s look at some of the basics of both website design solutions.

Grid Overview

CSS Grid is a powerful layout system specifically designed for creating two-dimensional layouts. It allows you to define both rows and columns, giving you precise control over the positioning of elements.

Some of the key features of CSS Grid include:

Ability to create complex layouts with ease.Explicit control over placement using grid lines.Support for both fixed and flexible tracks.

Example Scenarios:

Creating a multi-row and multi-column layout for a website’s main content area.Designing intricate web applications with overlapping elements.

Flexbox Overview

Flexbox, short for Flexible Box Layout, is a one-dimensional layout system aimed at arranging elements in a row or column. It excels in distributing space within an interface and aligning items within a container.

Key features of Flexbox include:

Simplifies alignment of items along one axis.Supports flexible sizing and ordering of elements.Excellent for dynamic and responsive layouts.

Example Scenarios:

Aligning items in a navigation bar.Creating a simple column layout for mobile views.Photo by Antonio Feregrino on Unsplash

Deciding Factors: When to Use CSS Grid

Complex Layouts

I discovered that CSS Grid is ideal for complex, two-dimensional layouts. For example, when creating a detailed dashboard with multiple sections, CSS Grid allowed me to define precise row and column configurations.

Personal Example: On a recent project, I needed to design a grid-based layout for a weather application with various elements and widgets. CSS Grid made it easy to create a structured and organized layout.

Explicit Positioning

Another significant advantage of CSS Grid is its ability to control the exact placement of items. This was particularly useful when I needed elements to span multiple rows or columns.

Deciding Factors: When to Use Flexbox

Simple, One-Dimensional Layouts

For simpler, one-dimensional layouts, Flexbox proved to be the better choice. It excels in scenarios where items need to be aligned in a single row or column.

Personal Example: When creating a responsive navigation bar, Flexbox made it easy to align menu items horizontally and ensure they were evenly spaced.

Flexibility and Alignment

Flexbox is also great for achieving flexible and dynamic layouts. It allowed me to align items vertically or horizontally within a container and distribute space evenly.

Photo by Nick Tiemeyer on Unsplash

Combining CSS Grid and Flexbox

Hybrid Approaches

In some projects, I found that using a combination of CSS Grid and Flexbox offered the best of both worlds. For instance, I used CSS Grid for the overall page structure and Flexbox for aligning items within individual grid cells.

Best Practices

When combining CSS Grid and Flexbox, it’s important to avoid conflicts and maintain clarity in your code.

Here are a few best practices I followed:

Use CSS Grid for the main layout structure.Use Flexbox for aligning items within grid cells or simpler one-dimensional layouts.Keep your CSS organized by clearly commenting on the sections using Grid and Flexbox.

Conclusion

During my learning process I realised that both techniques have advantages and disadvantages. Now that we have a clear overview, it should be easier for you to make a decision.

To get full flexibility and features from both, the combination of both techniques is the best way to get the best yield.

Additional Resources

MDN Web Docs: CSS Grid LayoutCSS-Tricks: A Complete Guide to GridMDN Web Docs: CSS Flexible Box LayoutCSS-Tricks: A Complete Guide to Flexbox

By mastering both CSS Grid and Flexbox, you’ll enhance your web development skills and be better equipped to create versatile, responsive, and visually stunning layouts.

Happy coding!

CSS Grid vs. Flexbox: How I Decided When and How to Use Each for Perfect Layouts was originally published in Level Up Coding on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

​ Level Up Coding – Medium

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