Discovering Pure: Basic Examples

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Introduction

Some of the most regular and frequent readers of the network might remember a previous series of mine entitled Build a Responsive, Mobile-Friendly Website From Scratch. It started with the creation of mockups and wireframes through to the adaptation of the layout according to the devices used.

I decided to take up this small project to show you how to recreate the same web pages, style, and layouts in less time by using a simple CSS framework called “Pure“.

In this short tutorial I will focus only on some of the elements that you can find on a website, showing in particular how to recreate the classical horizontal menu, a minimum grid structure with two columns and a simple form for contacts.

Before going further, let me make a brief introduction about this recent and modern framework, singling out what are its main modules and explaining some of its main features.

Pure: what is it?

Pure is a framework that helps you to manage all the elements of a website so that they’ll look great on all screen sizes, regardless of the device you have chosen to use. It works in IE 7+, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, iOS 6.x and Android 4.x.

One of its main features is its weight. In fact, it is a light and complete library whose weight is only 4.4KB minified and gzipped and composed of six basic modules, that are:

  • Base
  • Grids
  • Forms
  • Buttons
  • Tables
  • Menus

Among its most important characteristics, it should be mentioned that the library is based on the famous Normalize.css, a customizable CSS file that makes browsers render all elements more consistently and in line with modern standards, and which helps to fix cross-browser compatibility issues (which are always many!). Pure provides an extremely minimalist look that is super-easy to customize in several aspects.

For example, you can use the Skin Builder to create your own color schemes and modify other features like the border-radius and vertical padding, and the Grid Builder to make your own grid system with custom media query breakpoints and column sizes. Other awesome features of Pure include styles for vertical and horizontal menus, forms, buttons, various common table styles and it’s also Responsive by default (with a non-responsive option).

At this point, the first thing needed to start discovering the interesting world of Pure, is to include the Pure CSS file in our project by fetching it from Yahoo’s CDN:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="http://yui.yahooapis.com/pure/0.3.0/pure-min.css"/>

Once done, we can go on with the three different tasks we’ve scheduled at the very beginning of this article.

Please note that I’ll report, to avoid confusion, only the HTML code and you’ll find all the specifications regarding the style in a unique downloadable file.

Pay no attention to the style, please: my only goal in this tutorial is to introduce you to a new approach, an alternative way to write code, allowing developers who have no knowledge of this opportunity to start from the very beginning and learn from the basics. Forgive me then, I hope to have soon the opportunity to positively surprise you with a nice graphic tutorial.

Task 1: Create the Horizontal Menu

Among the prebuilt common elements that you can find in a lot of websites on the web, there’s the very well known and used horizontal menu. As you could remember, in the third part of the article dedicated to the writing of a semantic HTML5 code, I have used the <nav> element, which is a semantic element used for declaring a navigational section of a website (that is, a section of a page that links to other pages or to parts within the page) and wrapped an unordered list containing the main links of our website. Once done this, I’ve applied the necessary rules in the CSS stylesheet in order to display it horizontally.

Now, what do we have to do to obtain the same result using the Pure library? To achieve this goal, the first step is to apply three classes to the list wrapper (<nav>), that are: .pure-menu, .pure-menu-open, and .pure-menu-horizontal. The first one applies rules that are common to all menus in Pure; the second one (.pure-menu-open) is used to let the list items appear, while the third and last one is responsible for showing the list items on the same line.

Be careful that by default, the menu isn’t centered. In addition, to improve the user interface, we should highlight the list item that links to the current page. This is done by applying the .pure-menu-selected class to the <li> element you want to highlight. By doing so, the color of the text will turn from grey to black.

Once done, this should be your final code:

<nav id="main-menu" class="pure-menu pure-menu-open pure-menu-horizontal">
   <ul class="menu-list">
      <li class="pure-menu-selected"><a class="menu-item-link" href="#">Homepage</a></li>
      <li class="pure-menu-selected"><a class="menu-item-link" href="#">News</a></li>
      <li class="pure-menu-selected"><a class="menu-item-link" href="#">Graphics</a></li>
      <li class="pure-menu-selected"><a class="menu-item-link" href="#">Mobile</a></li>
      <li class="pure-menu-selected"><a class="menu-item-link" href="#">Web Design</a></li>
   </ul>
</nav>

Here is the screenshot of this little portion of code:
horizontal menu

Task 2: The Content Grid

After the menu, let’s see how we can manage the content part of our web page. In the simple homepage created for the previous series on RWD, we find a grid composed of two units: on the left there is a box dedicated to the screencasts’ sections, while on the right there’s a space designed to contain the last tweets of the author.

Both the left and the right units occupy 50% of their space as long as the width of the screen is larger than 767px. On the contrary, if the screen’s width is equal to or smaller than that, the grid units are stacked and occupy 100% of the width available.

When I listed the modules available in Pure, there was also the specific one for managing grids. To declare a responsive grid, you have to apply to the container a class called .pure-g-r. The grid units share a similar name, .pure-u-*-*, where the final part of the class specifies how much space the given unit will take up.

The grid system conceived by Pure is really useful because it will make you save a lot of time but, above all, avoid the management of “nasty” elements such as float, clear, and others used to create layouts. Furthermore, they will rescue you from all the problems and awkward situations tied to the managing of the responsive side of the layout.

That said, let’s see an example of how the Pure grid system works, implementing the situation described above:

  <div class="pure-g-r">
      <aside id="video-box" class="pure-u-1-2 small-box shadow">
         <p>
            Screencast box
         </p>
      </aside>
      <aside id="twitter-box" class="pure-u-1-2 small-box shadow">
         <p>
            Twitter box
         </p>
      </aside>
   </div>

grid

Task 3: A Responsive Contact Form

Although in this sample page I created there’s no form, I decided to study in detail and propose this other (surely useful) module of the Pure library, thanks to which you can display forms in several different types of styles. For this example, we’ll create a stacked form, where the input elements are below the labels. To go further, we have to add two classes to the <form> element: .pure-form and .pure-form-stacked.

Then we have to place both the label and the input tags within a wrapper, to which we’ll apply the .pure-control-group class and then put all of these wrappers into a <fieldset> element. The submit and the reset button will have a wrapper as well, but their wrapper will have the class .pure-controls. For the submit button, we used the .pure-button-primary class to highlight it, belonging to the Buttons module and used to change the style of the button (you can find more info and examples in the appropriate section).

Here’s your final result:

<div class="pure-u-1-2">
   <form id="contact" name="contact" action="#" method="post" class="pure-form pure-form-stacked">
      <fieldset>
      <legend>A Stacked Form</legend>
            <label>Name:</label>
            <input type="text" name="name" placeholder="Name" />
            <label>Email</label>
            <input type="email" name="email" placeholder="Email" />
            <label>Subject</label>
            <input type="text" name="subject" placeholder="Subject" />
            <label>Message:</label>
            <textarea name="message" placeholder="Your message here..."></textarea>
         <div class="pure-controls">
            <input type="submit" class="pure-button pure-button-primary" value="Submit" />
            <input type="reset" class="pure-button" value="Reset" /> 
         </div>
      </fieldset>
   </form>
</div>

Here is how your simple form will appear:
stacked form

Conclusions

Through this simple and short tutorial you should have understood the great potential of this new and versatile framework. Take into account the possibility of using one or more of its modules in your next future projects, not only to save time, but also to practice coding with a different approach.

If you want to know more about Pure, you can find further information on the website or visiting its repository on GitHub.

You can find the whole code here.

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  • Paul Divers

    Try testing the css using the w3c validator!

    • Mojo

      That’s a bit cryptic Paul. Can you be a bit more specific about the issue(s)?

  • Rod

    is it better that Bootstrap?

  • Mojo

    This looks very interesting and easy to learn. Bootstrap is a great framework but it still has a learning curve and for simple sites it’s overkill. I like the concept of Pure.

    Personally I’m getting a little tired of fanboys of particular frameworks criticising other frameworks. We ought to be happy that there is such a diversity of frameworks available and grateful to the people who generously share their work with us for free. It’s not a question which is “best”, as always we should pick the most appropriate tool for the job.

  • Mojo

    Hi Annarita

    Is there a problem with how the CSS for Pure validates? I’d really like to use this framework for a small site I need to build.

  • Jason

    Thanks for sharing. I hadn’t heard about this framework.

    Just a bit of feedback on the writing. The writing style changes in a few paragraphs so that it makes me wonder if the whole article was written by the same person. For example the paragraph starting with: “The grid system conceived by Pure is really useful because it will make you save a lot of time…” and earlier in the article this sentence: “Forgive me then, I hope to have soon the opportunity to positively surprise you with a nice graphic tutorial.”

    Perhaps it was overlooked in editing, but it’s a bit distracting.