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Frameworks, Boilerplates, and Kraken

When I released the Kraken boilerplate last week, someone asked me, “How does it differ from [Bootstrap/Foundation/Your Favorite Framework Here]?” Fair question.

I’ve used frameworks, and I’ve used boilerplates, and love them both. Here’s why I built Kraken…


CSS frameworks are great. I used Bootstrap for a while, and learned a lot about CSS3 and Object Oriented CSS. I even adapted some Bootstrap code for a few Kraken add-ons.

But like many frameworks, Bootstrap includes a lot of stuff - way more than I’d typically need for any given project. When I’d get ready to launch, I’d find myself removing as much of the code as I could and hoping I didn’t accidentally break something by removing an important class without realizing it.

Because frameworks are so robust, they have the potential to result in bloated code. It’s like using a sledgehammer to hang a photo.


Boilerplates are in many ways the opposite of frameworks.

They don’t try to provide a complete package. Instead, they provide a starting point that you can build on. HTML5 Boilerplate is one of the most popular, and for good reason - it’s packed with lots of tricks and best practices for better development. I adapted a few pieces of HTML5 Boilerplate into Kraken as well.

If frameworks are too robust, boilerplates are often too light. They don’t include everything you’ll need - just a few building blocks. When trying to use them, I often found myself digging through old projects or frameworks to find code I could reuse.

I designed Kraken to combine what I love best about frameworks and boilerplates into a single product.

Built to Scale

By itself, Kraken is boilerplate.

If your project is small, it might have everything you need, but chances are it’s just a starting point. And it’s pretty light on styling so that you can easily adapt it to whatever your design is.

But what makes Kraken shine are the add-ons - tools that you can use to extend the functionality of Kraken. Rather than taking a framework and removing what you don’t use, you start with a simple foundation and add on what you need.

Building a WordPress site? Try the Kraken for WordPress add-on. Need a navigation menu? Check out Astro. Drop-down menus? Toggle tabs? We’ve got you covered.

All of the add-ons have been designed to get dropped right in to Kraken. The stylesheet even has placeholders so you know exactly where in the cascade to put them.

Is Kraken right for you?

So is Kraken right for you? Depending on your level of skill, it might not be.

If you’re just getting started with this stuff, a more robust framework might be a better fit. You’ll see how different components integrate and work together.

But if you’d like to start with something more lightweight and scale it out (or not) to fit your projects, Kraken might be a great tool for you.