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Girder CSS demo

A CSS toolkit and layout helper built with Sass, ideal for screen layouts and grids of all shapes and sizes. But why you ask? "There are a bazillion of these..". Because I wanted to use a fractional system, something lean and focused - A tool that doesn't have to generate any extra css unless I asked. Its really handy for HTML prototypes because its small, fast and it easily integrates with other extensions.

  • Its Sass with semantic html5 in mind but can also be used with plain CSS (girder.css)
  • Conscise but well commented, small, focused and easy to learn. No excess stuff just the essentials.
  • Instead of columns it uses fractional grid units based on viewport sections (.half, .two-thirds).
  • The grid likes relative units and can easily adapt to a mobile-first approach (but its not required).
  • It makes no other assumptions of how you want to build (its just a layout helper). You bring your own typography, design elements, javascript, plugins, etc.
  • Integrates easily, works with Node-Sass or Ruby.

How it works

Girder is designed for building with Sass, a fantastic pre-processor. It makes it easy to quickly make flexible layouts using fractions as viewport sections. It uses silent classes (placeholders) to structure your grid content which also keeps your Markup free of excess presentational (often meaningless) classes like "unit_1of4", "small-2", "grid4". View some examples

Sample Code: You can use classes to target elements or use the cascade to build any type of layout:

<main class="container">
		<p>The main column covers two thirds of the page.</p>
		<p>This sidebar covers one third of the page.</p>

The Sass for this example could look like this:

// Adjust unit spacing in pixels, em or rem (optional)
$gutters: 1.25em;
// Containers can be fluid, fixed, centered or whatever (optional)
$container-max-width: 1322px;
// Include the main Girder partial
@import girder;

.container {
	@include baseline-grid;

	article {
		@include unit(two-thirds);
	aside {
		@include unit(third);
		background: #ddd;
	article li {
		@include unit(fourth);

		@include media-query($medium-breakpoint) {
			@include responsive-unit(half); // easily change layouts based on screen size

Pages built with Girder using a mix of Sass and pure CSS:

Setup / Requirements

Girder is compatible with Node-Sass or Ruby-Sass. You can use it without Sass also (plain css) but you'd be missing some useful tools.

just Css

  1. Include girder.css in your project.

  2. Use the layout classes in your HTML to infinitely nest and splice content on your app as needed.

Using Sass / Scss

Copy the Sass folder from this Repo. Or download the source and example files. You only need two things, the main settings file and the modules folder (everything else is optional):

  • girder.scss
  • /girder_modules/

Include the Girder scss file:

// Customize settings here or directly inside _girder.scss (optional)
@import girder;

// Follow with your base styles
  1. Sass should be present in your environment (Ruby Sass or LibSass). a. npm install node-sass b. Alternatively to install the gem: sudo gem install sass
  2. Start building your app and hook up to the grid simply by including the mixins in your selectors like this:
// Units go as small as a sixth of the width of any container. Mix and match as needed
@extend %row; // A wrapper for mixing and nesting unit groups
@include unit(three-fourths); // Three quarters of a page (inc. gutters by default)
@include unit(third, false); // A Third of any container (add 'false' to remove gutters)
.sixth-box {
	@include unit(sixth);

	@include media-query($large-screens) {
		@include responsive-unit(third);

To use plain CSS you just add the classes to the markup like this Example page:

<!-- Be sure to include the girder.css file in your document -->
<main class="content row">
	<article class="unit two-thirds"> My main column covers two thirds of the page. </article>
	<aside class="unit third"> This sidebar content occupies one third of the page. </aside>
	<footer class="clear">Awesome footer</footer>

Some familiar options: Wrap multi-column rows with a .row class or use @extend %row to do it silently. Nest rows and mix grid units to achieve your desired results. You can remove gutters, push units, add media queries or use any number of plugins for Sass. Check the example, inspect, poke and download the source to see exactly how it works.

Sometimes I write about using Sass and CSS layout tools like Girder on this dev journal.


Girder is tiny but it can scale based on your project's needs. You can easily include it alongside a whole host of Sass extensions. Here's an example:

$use-breakpoint: true;
@import "girder_modules/addon_breakpoint";

This project is open to suggestions, forks, experiments, etc

Open Source Under MIT license.


A simple CSS grid for building and prototyping modern websites. Its flexible, semantic and responsive.






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