8 Interesting JavaScript UI and CSS Tools You Must Try in 2021

Tapan Patel
Jan 16 · 9 min read

JavaScript UI tools for building efficient interfaces of web applications, quickly

JavaScript UI and CSS Tools
JavaScript UI and CSS Tools

If you came here looking for highly popular JavaScript libraries, let me save you some time. This blog post isn’t for you. There are a plethora of resources out there talking about the “top so and so” JavaScript resources. I don’t want to add to the pile.

I am here to talk about the real MVPs, the lesser-known gems that don’t get the due attention in the overcrowded JavaScript ecosystem.

Some of these tools are libraries and some of them are frameworks. However, most of them are emerging technologies, carrying immense potential, waiting to be tapped by beginner, intermediate, or advanced level developers.

So without further ado, let me get straight to the point, Here’s a curated list of JavaScript UI and CSS tools that have become a part of our design and development processes in 2021:

1. Deno js

Deno JavaScript
Deno JavaScript

Most of you must have heard Ryan Dahl’s talk in the JSConf EU in 2018. In the talk titled “Top 10 Things I Regret About Node.js,” he explains how Nodejs hasn’t grown well in response to JavaScript’s evolving capabilities.

So he started working on another, improved run time environment called Deno.js. Yes, Deno is the anagram of Node and is essentially a collection of all the things Ryan had missed out on building in Node.js.

One of the striking features of Deno (in contrast to Nodejs) is its enhanced security protocols. When you use Deno as a run-time environment, it executes the code in a sandbox. That means the run time environment can’t access the network, environment variables, or the file system unless you give them permission to do so.

I like to use Deno as a JavaScript library whenever I feel NPM is going to be too problematic for a certain project. With Deno, you can import packages just by using the URL of the concerned package.

Here is an example of the code you need to write for importing a Deno package:

import { assertEquals } from “https://deno.land/std/testing/asserts.ts";

So you can host the modules you create wherever you like and import them directly using the URL.

If your modules are reusable, don’t worry about typing the URL time and again. You can just re-export the module from a local file on your system.

On top of that, Deno is browser-compatible, you just need to add a bit of code to transpile the code to the latest ES version.

And the TypeScript support it offers is tremendously useful!

2. Svelte

Svelte JavaScript framework
Svelte JavaScript framework

There are JavaScript frameworks like Angular and React that come packed with tons of features and strong communities. And then there is Svelte.

Svelte is a relatively newer front-end JavaScript framework that is ideal for beginner and intermediate level developers. It has an extremely easy learning curve so the developers aren’t burdened with a plethora of new tools to learn.

However, its most attractive feature is its ability to convert the app code into JavaScript at the build time itself. So no more diving into the complexities of code conversion at run time!

Like Angular and React, Svelte too has a component-based architecture. You could use the entire framework for your app’s front-end or you could only ship the components you wish to use.

Also, the boilerplate code requirements while using Svelte is quite less compared to other frameworks. As a beginner, you could simply use basic technologies like HTML and CSS to write the code. Whenever I have a small team of developers working on a small project, Svelte is my first choice for quick front-end development.

3. Ext JS

Sencha Ext JavaScript framework
Sencha Ext JavaScript framework

Well, Ext JS is more of a framework than a library for how comprehensive it is with its features for front-end development. But it’s not too vast and you can choose the components you want to integrate with your web project while ditching the rest.

There was a time Ext JS was gaining huge popularity as a useful tool for creating data-intensive HTML5 apps. But soon, the buzz began to fade and questions like “Will Ext JS die soon” started appearing on the Stack Overflow-like platforms.

I still believe it is a great tool for building quick cross-platform web applications with its library of 140+ UI components. Even though it’s not as sophisticated as other top JavaScript frameworks but hey, having a Starbucks in the town doesn’t mean we don’t need the local cafes, right?

From grids and trees to forms and menus, you can find decent options for a vast variety of widgets in the collection. Moreover, Ext JS comes with in-built design accelerating tools like Stencils and Themer.

So prototyping a web application with Ext JS is both quick and exquisite.

Integrate Sencha Test with Ext JS and you can easily automate end-to-end as well as unit testing for the app. Talk about fast release cycles for newer, enhanced versions of the project!

4. Gatsby JS

Gatsby JavaScript
Gatsby JavaScript

Gatsby JS has been a reliable static-site generator for quite a few years now. Especially for building static progressive web apps, it’s a great tool that is always in sync with the latest web standards.

Obviously then, it leverages modern tools like Reactjs, GraphQL, WebPack, and ES6+ versions to build the web app.

Speaking of WebPack, did you know Gatsby JS makes it incredibly easy to optimize your web app for performance? All you have to do is write the source code. Gatsby JS will find the most efficient WebPack configuration to suit your code and compile it automatically!

Moreover, Gatsby JS is based on Google’s PRPL architecture. That means, it Pushes and Renders critical resources for the initial routing of the app. It then pre-caches the rest of the routing and implements lazy loading to reduce the app load time massively!

Gatsby JS has a vast library of over 2000+ plug-ins for quick design and development of various functionalities. It also lets you integrate or import data from APIs, CMSs, databases and other multiple sources.

What distinguishes Gatsby JS from other static site generators is its ability to avoid re-executing the redundant parts of the app code. So its capable of building and deploying web apps at least 2.5x faster!

5. Polymer

polymer javascript
polymer javascript

Web components are like the ready-made building blocks for development, only they are much more customizable and flexible than frameworks. Polymer is a JavaScript library that lets you leverage the power of web components in order to optimize your design and development processes.

Polymer has a massive library of reusable web components for a range of elements — from buttons, maps, and toolbars to core elements for front-end development.

In fact, you can also create your own web components using LitElement, Polymer’s own base class for building extremely light-weight web components. You can use these web components wherever you use HTML, including your main document and a comprehensive JS framework.

One of the critical features of Polymer is its Shadow DOM. It’s a technology that lets you encapsulate your web components such that they remain individual and unaffected by the changes in the overall application code.

Polymer is one of the best JavaScript libraries to use in 2021 for how it eases the collaboration between designers and developers.

There is no complexity involved in matching the source code to suit the design specifications. Both the designer and the developer can use Polymer’s LitElement to take care of their respective jobs.

6. Bulma CSS

Bulma css framework
Bulma css framework

Already quite popular, Bulma is an open-source CSS framework based on Flexbox. Meaning, you don’t have to deal with two-dimensional layouts while designing the UI of your app. It lets you focus on either a row or a column-based layout while writing mode of the document.

Bulma is built to ease the development process of web apps, especially from the CSS perspective. So it’s pretty easy to learn and use. Otherwise, what’s the point of using a CSS framework if you have to spend time learning a new technology!

The biggest advantage of using Bulma for a web application is its responsiveness. With Bulma, you can rest assured that your app will be fully optimized for mobile views.

But I love it the most because it’s so flexible!. With a modular architecture, Bulma enables you to use only those elements that you need for your web app. That means, complete access to a wealth of resources with no technical debt.

Lastly, the framework is highly customizable. You can choose the size of the grid layouts once and the rest of the columns (or rows) will adjust to the size automatically. (Remember, Flexbox?)

Bulma comes with comprehensive documentation and is supported strongly by a community of over 200,000 developers. So kickstarting your project using Bulma CSS won’t need much of an effort.

7. Tailwind CSS

Tailwindcss framework
Tailwindcss framework

Despite being a low level CSS framework, Tailwind CSS has gained huge popularity as a highly customizable tool for building efficient design elements.

In contrast to the likes of Bootstrap, Tailwind CSS doesn’t provide you with ready-use components. Instead, it gives you foundational components that you can use as building blocks for designing custom interfaces for your web application.

With Tailwind CSS, you don’t have to worry about naming classes of all the elements you create. It has an in-built system of utility classes that you can use for most of your components. This makes the whole process of CSS development less painful, if I may say so.

8. Tachyons CSS

Tachyons css framework
Tachyons css framework

Tachyons is a light-weight yet comprehensive CSS toolkit based on the mobile-first architecture. It helps you build highly responsive web applications with minimal coding effort, especially on the CSS front.

The entire library collectively weighs not more than 14kb! So even after you add images, HTML markup, and other lighter JS tools, it’s absolutely possible to still keep your web page size under 100kb.

Also, Tachyons is fully modular. So you have the liberty to integrate only a few elements from the framework into your web project. You could choose a pre-built component or element from its open-source library or you could easily build one with its single-purpose classes.

Wrapping Up

It’s not necessary for a tool or technology to be mainstream in order for us to trust it. There are tons of very resourceful JavaScript tools that haven’t yet gained a lot of popularity and I shared some of my personal favorites in the content above. However, please do check out the official websites/GitHub repos of these tools to know more about their features, pros, and cons in detail.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +773K people. Follow to join our community.

Tapan Patel

Written by

I am the Co-Founder of Third Rock Techkno, a leading IT services company with a strong focus on client success.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +773K people. Follow to join our community.

Tapan Patel

Written by

I am the Co-Founder of Third Rock Techkno, a leading IT services company with a strong focus on client success.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +773K people. Follow to join our community.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store