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Functional typed classnames for TailwindCSS

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Functional typed classnames for TailwindCSS

TailwindCSS is a CSS library that has gained a lot of traction. The developer experience is pretty epic and you ensure a low footprint on your css by composing existing classes for most of your css.

So why mess with it?

TailwindCSS is based on strings and with some nice tooling on top like TailwindCSS VSCode extension you get a pretty descent experience. That said, there are limitations to a purely declarative approach of strings. When using tailwindcss-classnames you will get additional power in the form of:

  • Validation of classnames: You can not write the wrong classname, cause the API only allows you to insert valid classnames
  • Functional approach: Since we are working in Typescript we get more freedom in using functional powers like composition and dynamic composition
  • Defining by variables: Even though it is nice to write TailwindCSS inline with your elements, it does not scale. You want to move definitions outside of the component for reusability and composition

You can not get this experience using pure TailwindCSS and the VSCode extension, but you do get it with tailwindcss-classnames.

Edit tailwindcss-classnames


Please follow the guide to set up TailwindCSS. Now do:

npm install tailwindcss-classnames

The project is literally the classnames project with custom typing and functions for applying pseudo elements. That means it arrives at your browser at approximately 422b minified and gzipped (bundlephobia).

Create classes

import {classnames} from 'tailwindcss-classnames';

classnames('border-none', 'rounded-sm');

The arguments passed to classnames is typed, which means you get discoverability. You can even search for the supported classes:


Dynamic classes

Since we are using classnames you can also add your classes dynamically:

import {classnames} from 'tailwindcss-classnames';

classnames('border-none', 'rounded-sm', { ['bg-gray-200']: true, });

Composing classes

Even though classnames just returns a string, it is a special typed string that you can compose into other definitions.

import {classnames} from 'tailwindcss-classnames';

export const button = classnames('border-none', 'rounded-sm');

export const redButton = classnames(button, 'bg-red-100');

Using with React

Since React has excellent typing support I want to give an example of how you could use it.

// styles.ts
import {classnames} from 'tailwindcss-classnames';

export const form = classnames('container', 'w-full');

export const button = classnames('border-none', 'rounded-sm');

export const alertButton = classnames(button, 'bg-red-100');

export const disabled = classnames('opacity-25', 'bg-gray-100');

export const submitButton = (disabled: boolean) => classnames(styles.button, { [styles.disabled]: disabled, });

// App.tsx import * as React from 'react'; import * as styles from './styles';

export const App: React.FC = ({disabled}) => { return (

Submit Cancel ); };

Using the CLI to generate custom types

The types included in this package are the default tailwindcss classes, but if you modified your tailwind config file and/or want to add external custom classes, you can use the CLI tool to do this.

CLI arguments for tailwind config:

  • -c --config The relative path for TailwindCSS config file.
  • -f --classesFile (Optional) The relative path of the file with the custom types.
  • -t --typeName (Optional) The name of the type exported from file containing the custom classes.
  • -o --output (Optional) The name (or path) to generate the file into.

Add it in your package.json scripts:

"scripts": {
  "generate-css-types": "tailwindcss-classnames --config tailwind.config.js"

or simply run

npx tailwindcss-classnames


If you want to add types from external file named

containing the following code:
export type TCustomClasses =
  | "button"
  | "sidebar"
  | "navbar"
  | ...

You will excute the CLI with the following arguments:

tailwindcss-classnames --config path/to/tailwind.config.js --classesFile my-custom-classes --typeName TCustomClasses

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