There was a time that positioning elements with CSS could be a real hassle, depending on what was needed to do.
Then, Flexbox came to the rescue, facilitating element positioning. But it didn’t take long to browsers adapt and start supporting CSS Grid.
This left us with a question: Flexbox or Grid?
A common mistake is thinking that Grid was intended to replace Flexbox, since most browsers now support Grid. Such thought couldn’t be more wrong.
You need to take into account that:
- Flexbox does things that Grid can’t;
- Grid does things that Flexbox can’t;
- Both can work together;
- There are some cases in which both can be used, but one of them does it better and easier.
When should you use Flexbox?
We can surely use flexbox to work with two-dimensional elements, but this tool is far more used when facing an one-dimensional element, be it a line or column.
A menu is always a good example of that (no matter if it is vertical or horizontal).
When should you use Grid?
Grid is perfectly capable of working with a one-dimensional element, but it shines when dealing with two-dimensional elements.
Defining your page structure with Grid will be a piece of cake compared to Flexbox.
You can set the start and end of an element in your grid, which gives you a lot of flexibility (I know, ironic right?). You can also name areas inside your grid structure to further indicate to an element that it belongs there. This can make your code more readable and easy to maintain.
If you already know how many rows and columns you’ll need, then Grid is probably more suited for you than Flexbox in such a case.
Beyond that, is possible that you’ll write fewer media queries, since you can use functionalities like
When should you use both?
It’s always better to enjoy the best of both worlds, right?
This is what happened in the example above:
- The page layout was defined with Grid;
- The header contains a menu with items organized with Flexbox;
- Each menu item has a small structure for its elements (icons and texts), which can be seen by their white borders. This was done with Grid.
Wrapping it up
With further understanding, you’ll realize that, depending on the situation, one option can be better, but using the other isn’t wrong.
Nothing blocks you from eating with forks and knives, but knowing how to use both together can make your life a lot easier.
As you get more experienced with Flexbox and Grid, you’ll choose more intuitively the best option for each case.