3.4.0 • Public • Published

Gravity Web UI library

Gravity UI Web banner

Library of styles, components and associated assets to build UIs for the web. Part of Buildit's Gravity design system.

Published as the NPM package @buildit/gravity-ui-web.

Table of contents

Using this library


  • SASS compilation setup in your project
  • npm (>= v5.8.0)

If you intend to compile Gravity's SASS yourself, we strong recommend:


$ npm install --save-dev @buildit/gravity-ui-web

Build integration

Once installed as a dependency, you need to integrate Gravity into your project's build. The Gravity UI library NPM package ships with the following files:

  • Pre-compiled CSS file
    • The SASS source from which the CSS was compiled
  • An SVG file containing symbol definitions for all Gravity SVG icons
    • A JSON file containing metadata about the individual SVG icons
  • Pre-compiled client-side JS file

You must integrate these into your own project builds as follows:

CSS styles

You need to get Gravity's CSS into your website or app somehow. Possible strategies include:

  • Copying Gravity's pre-compiled CSS file to your build output and linking to it from your HTML.

  • Combining Gravity's pre-compiled CSS with your own CSS code.

    • You can keep them in separate CSS files and link to them individually from your HTML, or you can concatenate the CSS.
    • Whichever way you choose, Gravity's CSS must come first since it includes normalisation rules and sets global default styles.
  • Compiling Gravity's SASS source to CSS yourself.

    • It's possible to import each ITCSS layer into your index SCSS file. This gives you the ability to add your own local tools, objects, components etc in the same specificty order as Gravity. This has the benefit of potentially making your SASS cleaner and easier to integrate back into Gravity, should it be something that other projects can benefit from.

    For example:

    // === Settings layer ===
    @import 'gravity-ui-web/00-settings/settings.all';
    // === Tools layer ===
    @import 'gravity-ui-web/01-tools/tools.all';
    @import 'components/<YOUR_TOOL_NAME>.scss';
    // === Generic layer ===
    @import 'gravity-ui-web/02-generic/generic.all';
    // === Elements layer ===
    @import 'gravity-ui-web/03-elements/elements.all';
    // === Objects layer ===
    @import 'gravity-ui-web/04-objects/objects.all';
    // === Components layer ===
    @import 'gravity-ui-web/05-components/components.all';
    @import 'components/<YOUR_COMPONENT_NAME>.scss';
    // === Utilities layer ===
    @import 'gravity-ui-web/06-utilities/utilities.all';

    If this is not a requirement then you can simply include all of Gravty's SASS using: `@import 'gravity-ui-web';

  • Embedding Gravity's CSS in a bundle

    • importing Gravity's CSS or SASS into a JS bundle (with the appropriate loaders setup) is a perfectly valid approach
    • However, you should avoid using tools that mangle the CSS class names (e.g. CSS Modules). Gravity's CSS is designed to be global. Attempting to scope it is not supported and may well break things. If you do this, you're on your own.
    • That being said, for any additional CSS rules you add after the Gravity ones, you are of course free to use whatever tool or approach you like.

If your chosen approach uses Gravity's pre-compiled CSS, you must use the build API to grab the file's path and/or filename.

If your chosen approach uses Gravity's SASS sources, you are encouraged to use Eyeglass to avoid needing to manually configure includePaths. If Eyeglass is not an option, then you must use the build API to grab the path and/or filenames for Gravity's SASS files.

SVG symbols

Currently, Gravity's SVG symbol definitions need to be inlined into your HTML. Then, whereever you want to use one of the available icons or logos, you should use an inline SVG that references the required symbol's id like so:

  <use xlink:href="#buildit-logotype"></use>

The height and width properties should be set to ensure that your inline SVG's intrinsic size matches the aspect ratio of the referenced symbol. If you omit them, browsers will default to a width of 150px and a height of 100px and the chosen symbol will appear centered within that area.

The aria-labelledby should be set to provide a text alternative for the SVG (equivalent to alt in <img> elements). All of Gravity's SVG symbol definitions contain alternative texts in their <title> elements and these have unique ids, so that they can be referenced from elsewhere via aria-labelledby.

You can look up these values manually in Gravity's pattern library. For convenience and possible automation, Gravity also ships with a JSON file that contains the symbol and title IDs and the intrinsic width and height values for every available symbol. The format of this file is as follows:

  "symbols": [
        "symbolId": "buildit-logo-hollow",
        "titleId": "buildit-logo-hollow__title",
        "width": "700px",
        "height": "700px"
      // ...

As with the CSS, you must use the build API to grab the path and/or filename(s) to Gravity's symbols SVG file and symbol info JSON file.


TBD (Currently, Gravity is first and foremost a CSS library. It is however likely that future releases will add some kind of JS for interactive UI components. When that happens, this section will be updated accordingly)


Once the Gravity library has been integrated into your build, all you need to do is produce the appropriate DOM elements. You can view all the available styles and UI components in the Buildit Living Pattern Library. Use the "Show pattern info" option to view the Nunjucks template and rendered HTML for the component you are viewing.

Short video of Gravity's pattern library, showing how to navigate to a pattern, open its pattern info panel and select the "HTML" tab to see the corresponding markup

You need to recreate the same HTML DOM structure in your project (via static HTML, dynamically via JS or a combination of both - it doesn't matter), and you will get the same appearance.

This is pretty much the same process as using other UI libraries like Bootstrap CSS or Semantic UI. There is one very important difference though: Those libraries tend to use class names exclusively to bind the CSS styles to your markup, meaning that the actual HTML element used rarely matters. For example, in Bootstrap <button class="btn btn-primary"> and <span class="btn btn-primary"> will both produce the same visual result.

Gravity on the other hand often mandates that certain HTML elements or attributes are used, and sometimes doesn't use classes at all (the equivalent to the Bootstrap primary button example in Gravity would simply be <button>). The intention is to promote semantically correct, accessible HTML. An additional benefit is that this often makes markup code is more terse as well.

As a general rule you must therefore ensure that you match:

  • The HTML element used
  • The attributes used (if any) - not only class, but others like type, aria-*, etc. as well
  • For composite "molecule" or "organism" components you must also match the way they have been nested - i.e. don't introduce additional wrappers within the component

Each component also has notes (shown in the pattern info panel) which describe what it should be used for and other noteworthy information.


Setup and local dev

This package's code resides in a monorepo. Please follow the instructions in the root README.md for inital setup and local development.

Other build tasks

You can also run the following commands from within this package's directory:

Build the UI library to the dist/ directory.

npm run build

Clean build output - deletes everything in dist/

npm run clean

Build & watch UI library

npm start

Build SASS API docs

npm run docs

(The generated docs go into: dist/docs/sass/)

The above command only includes public SASS APIs that are also available to consumers of the @buildit/gravity-ui-web package. Developers working on the library itself can also use npm run docs:dev to generate SASS API docs that also include the private APIs. These get output to dist/docs/sass-dev/.

Further information

Deployment & releasing

See Travis CI pipeline doc

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npm i @buildit/gravity-ui-web

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  • buildit.dev
  • james.nash