Flexbox and Real World Examples

Flexbox and Real World Examples

Post Date : 2024-05-01T20:59:44+07:00

Modified Date : 2024-05-01T20:59:44+07:00

Category: cheatsheet

Tags: css , tailwindcss

Flexbox is a powerful CSS layout mode that allows for the efficient arrangement of items within a container, even when their size is unknown or dynamic. Flexbox makes it easy to align elements, distribute space, and handle various alignment challenges that were tricky with older CSS properties.

Key Concepts of Flexbox

  • Flex Container: The element that you apply display: flex or display: inline-flex to becomes the flex container. Its direct children become flex items.
  • Flex Items: Elements inside the flex container that can be automatically laid out using flex properties.
  • Main Axis and Cross Axis: The main axis is defined by the flex-direction property, which can be row (default) or column. The cross axis is perpendicular to the main axis.
  • Justify Content: Aligns items along the main axis and can be set to flex-start, flex-end, center, space-between, space-around, or space-evenly.
  • Align Items: Aligns items on the cross axis and can be set to flex-start, flex-end, center, baseline, or stretch.
  • Flex Grow, Flex Shrink, and Flex Basis: Control the sizing of items within a flex container. flex-grow defines the ability for an item to grow if necessary, flex-shrink deals with how items shrink when there isn’t enough space, and flex-basis sets the initial size of an item.

Examples Using Tailwind CSS

Example 1: Basic Flexbox Layout

<div class="flex justify-center items-center">
  <div class="p-4 bg-blue-500 text-white">Item 1</div>
  <div class="p-4 bg-red-500 text-white">Item 2</div>
  <div class="p-4 bg-green-500 text-white">Item 3</div>

This layout centers items both vertically and horizontally inside a flex container.

Example 2: Responsive Flexbox Grid

<div class="flex flex-wrap -m-2">
  <div class="p-2 w-1/2 md:w-1/3 lg:w-1/4">
    <div class="bg-blue-500 text-white p-4">Box 1</div>
  <div class="p-2 w-1/2 md:w-1/3 lg:w-1/4">
    <div class="bg-red-500 text-white p-4">Box 2</div>
  <div class="p-2 w-full md:w-1/3 lg:w-1/4">
    <div class="bg-green-500 text-white p-4">Box 3</div>

This example demonstrates a responsive grid where items wrap and resize based on the viewport size.

Example 3: Vertical Navigation Bar

<div class="flex flex-col h-screen bg-gray-800 text-white">
  <div class="p-4">Home</div>
  <div class="p-4">Profile</div>
  <div class="p-4">Settings</div>

Creates a full-height vertical navigation bar with flex items stacked in a column.

Let’s dive deeper into the concepts of flex-grow, flex-shrink, and flex-basis in the context of Flexbox, and how you can utilize them with Tailwind CSS


  • flex-grow is a property that controls how much a flex item will grow relative to the rest of the flex items in the flex container when positive free space is distributed. By default, flex items do not grow; flex-grow is set to 0.

  • Tailwind CSS Usage: Use flex-grow, grow-0 (no growth), grow (default is 1), or grow-[value] to control growth.

<div class="flex">
  <div class="bg-blue-500 text-white p-4 grow">This grows</div>
  <div class="bg-red-500 text-white p-4">Does not grow</div>

In this example, the first div with a blue background will grow to take up any remaining space in the container, while the red one will not grow.


  • flex-shrink determines how a flex item will shrink relative to the rest of the flex items in the container when there isn’t enough space available. By default, flex items can shrink (flex-shrink is set to 1).

  • Tailwind CSS Usage: Use flex-shrink, shrink-0 (prevent shrinking), shrink (default is 1), or shrink-[value] for more specific control.

<div class="flex w-64">
  <div class="bg-blue-500 text-white p-4 shrink">Shrink if necessary</div>
  <div class="bg-red-500 text-white p-4 shrink-0">Does not shrink</div>

Here, the first div will shrink if needed to prevent overflow, while the second div with the red background will maintain its size.


  • flex-basis sets the initial size of a flex item before the remaining space is distributed according to flex-grow or flex-shrink. It can be a length, a percentage, or the keyword auto, which sizes it based on the item’s content size.

  • Tailwind CSS Usage: Tailwind doesn’t directly offer flex-basis utilities, but you can use width (w-) utilities to set a base size.

<div class="flex">
  <div class="bg-blue-500 text-white p-4 w-1/3">Base size 1/3</div>
  <div class="bg-red-500 text-white p-4 flex-grow">Grows to fill space</div>

In this layout, the first div has a flex-basis of one-third of the container’s width set by w-1/3. The second div will take up the remaining space because it’s set to grow.

Real world examples and patterns

Example 1: Create a login page

  • Requirements: your layout should have the header and footer at their natural height, while the main content area expands as needed to fill the rest of the screen’s height.
<div className="flex flex-col min-h-screen">
  <header className="p-4">Header</header>
  <main className="flex justify-center grow">
    <div className="container p-4">{props.children}</div>
  <footer className="flex justify-center">
    <div className="container p-4">Footer</div>


This is the use case when you need this pattern. So we call this pattern is “MainContentGrow”