Is Bulma really ready for prime time?

In short, I don’t believe so. Let me share my recent experience in using the Bulma CSS framework.

Are you like me and tired of the bulk and js requirements of Bootstrap and want to try something different? I recently started a small, new project using Angular 10 and I wanted to use a different CSS framework other than Bootstrap. I actually think Bootstrap 4 is pretty good. I mean, they have moved away from using floats, after all. There are also some nice components in Bootstrap. I am just so tired of using it all the time and it’s a pretty large framework, so I decided to give Bulma a try.

For some background I have used w3.css quite a bit. I have also experimented with Foundation. I have used Bootstrap more than I care to admit. All of these have their pros and cons. If w3.css used flexbox or grid for layout I would probably still be using it for my smaller projects because of its small size and simplicity, but I don’t really want to be using floats for layout in 2021.

Bulma Version 1.0 — where are you?

When I installed Bulma I noticed that the version number was less than 1.0. This puzzled me since I knew it had been around for several years. I thought to myself “Well, I don’t know why there isn’t a version1.0, but I’m going to try it anyway since so many developers like it.” I should have taken the lack of a version 1.0 as a warning sign.

I did some googling about the version information later and found that others have questioned the lack of a version 1.0 and they received some rather snarky responses. Many of the responses just dismissed the fact and said it didn’t matter what the version number is. Oh contraire my fellow devs. I have been burned in the past by using beta software and I have seen many others burned by using beta software.

As I discovered during my foray into building my app with Bulma, there is a good reason why the version number has never made it to a 1.0.

First impressions

I enjoy learning knew things. It’s one of the biggest reasons I have been coding since 1985 (No, I wasn’t in grade school back then. I can, unfortunately, remember when MLK Jr. was assassinated). I enjoyed digging into Bulma. It was an interesting design. I could see improvements over Bootstrap (from which at least a part of the motivation to create Bulma was derived). The way colors are specified throughout the framework was simpler and more consistent. I liked that.

I also liked the navbar better than what I had experienced in Bootstrap. Bulma’s is simpler to configure and to understand (I’ll bet most of you that use Boostrap’s navbar are like me and just copy the code from the docs and reconfigure it).

First signs of problems

I started running into problems while trying to layout my pages and use Bulma’s many containers. It is a real challenge to determine the best container to use to get the layout you want. I searched through the documentation and there were mixed recommendations and inconsistencies. I googled — same result. I found tutorials that provided instructions that were inconsistent with what the latest documentation recommended. To me it was a mess trying to figure out the “best” way to layout a page with Bulma.

After a while I realized that even though Bulma did not have a version 1.0, it did have legacy. Bulma was trying to keep some backward compatibility with previous versions, at least that’s what it looked like to me; hence, the many approaches I found in trying to solve the same layout design.

I also found problems with some of the containers not working properly.

Conclusion

I know there are many devs who have been successful in using Bulma but I don’t want to use a framework that isn’t sure what it needs to be or wants to be. If you look at the impetus for the creation of Bulma you find that much of it was to fix shortcomings in Bootstrap 2 & 3, before version 4 was available. Now that Bootstrap 4 is available (5 is coming very soon) one has to wonder “Why Bulma?” “What does it do better than others?” I don’t know the answer for that.

I think the reason why Bulma has not reached a version 1.0 is it’s author doesn’t really know what problem he is trying to solve with Bulma. As he has been building Bulma the world has moved on with other CSS frameworks. Things keep changing for CSS frameworks at a rapid pace. Maybe if Bulma had a larger team effort it could have been completed and filled a gap left by other CSS frameworks. I just don’t see it as a complete project.

If you love Bulma what is it that you love about it? Do you think it is ready for primetime?

Software developer/architect with 33 years experience

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