Nirmalya Ghosh I'm a computer science engineer specializing in web design and development with an eye for detail. I have over three years of experience with React and also fiddle with Ruby on Rails and Elixir.

Building a Tailwind CSS table component

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Editor’s note: This post was updated on 4 February 2022 to update any outdated information and add the Adding Tailwind CSS table borders section.

Tailwind CSS comes with a default set of utility classes that helps developers build good-looking components by default and in a very simple way.

In this tutorial, we will learn how easy it is to build components using Tailwind CSS by creating a table component and using Tailwind to design a better variant of it. We’ll cover:

How do you make a component with Tailwind?

We’ll start by building a sample card component, like the one below:

Sample HTML card component

To create the above card component, we need the following HTML:

<div class="card">
  <div class="card-content">
    <h4 class="card-title">John Doe</h4>
    <p class="card-message">Web Developer at Acme</p>
  </div>
</div>
<style>
  .card {
    display: flex;
    width: 25%;
    margin: 0 auto;
    padding: 1.5rem;
    border-radius: 0.5rem;
    background-color: #fff;
    box-shadow: 0 20px 25px -5px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.1),
      0 10px 10px -5px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.04);
  }
  .card-content {
    padding-top: 0.25rem;
  }
  .card-title {
    color: #1a202c;
    font-size: 1.25rem;
    line-height: 1.25;
  }
  .card-message {
    color: #718096;
    font-size: 1rem;
    line-height: 1.5;
  }
</style>

The equivalent of the above HTML and CSS using Tailwind is the following:

<div class="w-1/4 mx-auto flex p-6 bg-white rounded-lg shadow-xl">
  <div class="pt-1">
    <h4 class="text-xl text-gray-900 leading-tight">John Doe</h4>
    <p class="text-base text-gray-600 leading-normal">
      Web Developer at Acme
    </p>
  </div>
</div>

As we can see when using Tailwind, we can create components much faster and using far less code.

Setting up Tailwind CSS

To begin crafting our table component, let’s first create our project directory:

mkdir build-components-using-tailwind && cd build-components-using-tailwind

This creates an empty build-components-using-tailwind directory as well as change our current working directory.

We made a custom demo for .
No really. Click here to check it out.

Next, let’s initialize our project with npm:

npm init -y

This command creates a package.json file inside our current working directory:

Default package json.file

Installing Tailwind CSS

We can install Tailwind from npm:

# Using npm
npm install tailwindcss

# Using Yarn
yarn add tailwindcss

This adds tailwindcss to our list of dependencies.

Adding Tailwind To Our Dependencies

Adding Tailwind to our project dependencies

Next, we’ll create an HTML file with some default contents:

// index.html

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <meta charset="utf-8" />
    <meta
      name="viewport"
      content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1, shrink-to-fit=no"
    />
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="tailwind.css" />
    <title>Tailwind</title>
  </head>
  <body>
  </body>
</html>

We also need to create an empty styles.css file to compile a new tailwind.css file using the Tailwind CLI tool later on.

Next, we must use the @tailwind directive to inject Tailwind’s base, components, and utilities styles into the CSS:

// tailwind.css

@tailwind base;
@tailwind components;
@tailwind utilities;

We can also create a Tailwind configuration file if we want to customize our Tailwind installation:

npx tailwindcss init

The above command creates a minimal tailwind.config.js file:

Generating A Tailwind Config File

// tailwind.config.js

module.exports = {
  theme: {
    extend: {},
  },
  variants: {},
  plugins: [],
}

Processing the CSS

Next, let’s use the Tailwind CLI tool to process our CSS:

npx tailwindcss build styles.css -o tailwind.css

Generating A tailwind.css File

We can also use PostCSS to configure our Tailwind installation. To do that, install the necessary dependencies to the project:

# Using npm
npm install postcss-cli --save-dev

# Using Yarn
yarn add postcss-cli -D

This adds postcss-cli to our devDependencies:

Adding The PostCSS CLI To Our Dependencies

We’ll compile our styles only during development; while deploying to production, we’ll ship our compiled styles. As a result, we need postcss-cli only during development.

We must also create a postcss.config.js file to configure PostCSS:

// postcss.config.js

module.exports = {
  plugins: [require("tailwindcss")]
};

Next, we need to add a script in our package.json file for compiling our Tailwind styles:

// package.json

"scripts": {
  "tailwind:watch": "postcss styles.css -o tailwind.css"
},

This script compiles the styles present in the styles.css file and generates a new tailwind.css file. So, let’s run our script and generate a tailwind.css file with the following command:

yarn tailwind:watch

Generating Our tailwind.css File With postcss-cli

Now, let’s build our first component using Tailwind.

How do you create a table in Tailwind?

In this section, we’ll create a table using HTML and use the Tailwind utility classes to give it a much better look.

So, let’s write a table component in HTML:

// index.html

<table>
  <tr>
    <th>Company</th>
    <th>Contact</th>
    <th>Country</th>
  </tr>
  <tr>
    <td>Alfreds Futterkiste</td>
    <td>Dante Sparks</td>
    <td>Italy</td>
  </tr>
  <tr>
    <td>Centro comercial Moctezuma</td>
    <td>Neal Garrison</td>
    <td>Spain</td>
  </tr>
  <tr>
    <td>Ernst Handel</td>
    <td>Maggie O'Neill</td>
    <td>Austria</td>
  </tr>
</table>

The above HTML creates the following basic table component:

Basic HTML Table Component

Adding Tailwind to our table component

Now, let’s add some Tailwind utility classes to make our component better:

// index.html

<table class="shadow-lg bg-white">
  <tr>
    <th class="bg-blue-100 border text-left px-8 py-4">Company</th>
    <th class="bg-blue-100 border text-left px-8 py-4">Contact</th>
    <th class="bg-blue-100 border text-left px-8 py-4">Country</th>
  </tr>
  <tr>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Alfreds Futterkiste</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Dante Sparks</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Italy</td>
  </tr>
  <tr>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Centro comercial Moctezuma</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Neal Garrison</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Spain</td>
  </tr>
  <tr>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Ernst Handel</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Maggie O'Neill</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Austria</td>
  </tr>
</table>

After adding the above classes to the HTML, our table component looks like the following:

Styled Table Component

Adding Tailwind CSS table borders

Adding table borders with Tailwind CSS border-separate

Currently, our table component has each cell sharing a common border.

Table Showing Cells Sharing Borders

Here, each cell borrows some of its borders from either the adjacent, top, or bottom cells. For example, the rightmost cells share their left, top, and bottom borders with their sibling cells.

Now, we can force each cell in the table to have its own borders. To do that, we use the Tailwind CSS property border-separate.

So, let’s add border-separate to the table element:

<table class="shadow-lg bg-white border-separate">
  <tr>
    <th class="bg-blue-100 border text-left px-8 py-4">Company</th>
    <th class="bg-blue-100 border text-left px-8 py-4">Contact</th>
    <th class="bg-blue-100 border text-left px-8 py-4">Country</th>
  </tr>
  <tr>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Alfreds Futterkiste</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Dante Sparks</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Italy</td>
  </tr>
  <tr>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Centro comercial Moctezuma</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Neal Garrison</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Spain</td>
  </tr>
  <tr>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Ernst Handel</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Maggie O'Neill</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Austria</td>
  </tr>
</table>

Our table component now looks like this:

Table Showing Separated Borders Between Cells

Now, each cell has its own border. Also notice that a little padding was added to depict the separating.

This border-separate is the same as border-collapse: separate in CSS.

Adding border-collapse to our table component in Tailwind CSS

Now inversely, we can make the cells of our table component share a common border with their adjacent cells with border-collapse.

So, let’s add border-collapse on the top-level table element:

<table class="shadow-lg bg-white border-collapse">
  <tr>
    <th class="bg-blue-100 border text-left px-8 py-4">Company</th>
    <th class="bg-blue-100 border text-left px-8 py-4">Contact</th>
    <th class="bg-blue-100 border text-left px-8 py-4">Country</th>
  </tr>
  <tr>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Alfreds Futterkiste</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Dante Sparks</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Italy</td>
  </tr>
  <tr>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Centro comercial Moctezuma</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Neal Garrison</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Spain</td>
  </tr>
  <tr>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Ernst Handel</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Maggie O'Neill</td>
    <td class="border px-8 py-4">Austria</td>
  </tr>
</table>

Our table component now looks like this:

Table Using Border Collapse

Note that using border-collapse in Tailwind CSS is the same as using the border-collapse: collapse property in CSS.

Conclusion

The table component that we built here is available on GitHub. With the help of Tailwind, it becomes very easy to develop beautiful components and through the use of utility classes, we can build components in very few lines of code.

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Nirmalya Ghosh I'm a computer science engineer specializing in web design and development with an eye for detail. I have over three years of experience with React and also fiddle with Ruby on Rails and Elixir.

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