by Shaira Williams

The main differences between Flexbox and CSS Grid

Dimensions define the primary demarcation between Flexbox and CSS Grid. Flexbox was designed specifically for one-dimensional layouts, while CSS Grid is engineered to enable two-dimensional layouts. Therefore, CSS Grid can easily render rows and columns simultaneously.

In layperson’s terms, CSS Grid presents a larger canvas, while Flexbox offers minute functionality that operates in a restricted space. The grids have been designed for a two-dimensional organization.

However, the two specifications share some common points, and if you know how to use flexible boxes, you will find some concepts that will help you to grasp CSS grids.

In this article, we’ll go through the main differences between Grid and Flexbox, summarized as follows:

  • Flexbox is designed for one-dimensional layouts, and Grid for two-dimensional layouts.
  • The approach of CSS Grid is the layout first, while the Flexbox approach is primarily the content.
  • The Flexbox layout is best suited to application components and small-scale layouts, while the Grid layout is designed for larger-scale layouts that are not linear in design.

Getting to know Flexbox and Grid

The one-dimensional Flexbox

CSS Flexible Box Layout (or Flexbox) allows designers to position responsive elements appropriately within screens of different sizes. The tools include:

  • box layout for documents,
  • an inline layout for defining the appearance of text on screens,
  • a table layout to depict tabular data in one dimension,
  • and a positioned layout mode that enables explicit positioning of responsive elements.

Flexbox is popular among front-end developers, since it allows developers to create multiple instances of dynamic layouts and effortlessly align content within containers.

The flexible box module has been designed as a one-dimensional presentation model and as a method that can provide space distribution between interface elements and powerful alignment functions. When we describe the flexbox as one-dimensional, we describe the fact that flexbox processes layouts in one dimension at a time, as a row or column. This can be compared to the two-dimensional model of the CSS grid layout, which controls columns and rows together.

<div class=”wrapper”> <div>One</div> <div>Two</div> <div>Three</div> <div>Four</div> <div>Five</div></div>
.wrapper { width: 500px; display: flex; flex-wrap: wrap;}.wrapper > div { flex: 1 1 150px;}

Pros:

  • Flex can be arranged in any direction
  • Flex can have its visual order reversed or rearranged.
  • Items can be aligned in your container or between them.
  • Support all browsers.

Cons:

  • Performance issues

The two-dimensional Grid

CSS Grid aligns items in columns and rows, allowing developers to easily control the rendering and appearance of large layouts and whole pages meant for the desktop, tablet, and smartphone displays.

Items are placed inside the cells defined by the grid. Creating and defining the overall layouts remains the strong suit for CSS Grid. Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, Edge, and Firefox support Grid. Notably, Opera Mini, Blackberry Browser, QQ Browser, and Baidu Browser does not support Grid.

It offers automation to create a layout, or define automatic placement rules that perform placements inside a given grid.

<div class=”wrapper”> <div>One</div> <div>Two</div> <div>Three</div> <div>Four</div> <div>Five</div></div>
.wrapper { display: grid; grid-template-columns: repeat(3, 1fr);}

Pros:

  • Grid tracks are created within your stylesheet.
  • Reduced file sizes.
  • Prototyping with CSS Grid is fast and efficient.

Cons:

  • Not supported by every browser

Differences Between Flex and Grid

Dimensionality and Flexibility

Flexbox offers greater control over alignment and space distribution between items. Being one-dimensional, Flexbox only deals with either columns or rows. This system works for smaller layouts, but cannot render complex displays such as text or document-centric properties that enable floats and columns.

Grid has two-dimension layout capabilities which allow flexible widths as a unit of length. This compensates for the limitations in Flex.

Alignment

Flexbox allows fine-tuning of alignments to ensure exact specification sharing. Flex Direction allows developers to align elements vertically or horizontally, which is used when developers create and reverse rows or columns.

For broader alignments in both dimensions simultaneously, CSS Grid deploys fractional measure units for grid fluidity and auto-keyword functionality to automatically adjust columns or rows. The in-built automation saves developers from re-work regimes that may potentially originate in confused calculations.

Item Management

Flex Container is the parent element while Flex Item represents the children. The Flex Container can ensure balanced representation by adjusting item dimensions. This allows developers to design for fluctuating screen sizes.

For fine-tuning this aesthetic, Grid supports both implicit and explicit content placement. Its inbuilt automation allows it to automatically extend line items and copy values into the new creation from the preceding item.

Conclusion

Flexbox and CSS Grid both allow a powerful measure of control over their respective domains of front-end development. However, their capabilities are exponentiated when they are combined, utilizing their respective strengths to create an extremely fluid, customizable, beautiful, smooth, and simple experience.

Combining their code also results in a more lightweight setup where abstraction in both domains spills over into the other. There are vast applications to both options, and even more when they are combined into a powerful setup.

Learn more about relationship of grid layout to other layout methods here.

This article has been tipped by members of the techiespad blog.