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So, what is Bootstrap? For those who work in web development, Bootstrap is not a new term. Bootstrap is one of the most popular web development frameworks out there, and it is used for developing highly-responsive projects in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Essentially, what Bootstrap does is reduce the time needed to get a modern website up and running.

You get to use design templates for every aspect of a site, from typography to buttons or image carousels. Of course, in order to make your job easier, you need to learn how to use it in the first place. Keep reading to discover the magic of Bootstrap in this article created by our team at Amelia.

A Primer on Bootstrap

Before anything else, you need to master the basics of using Bootstrap. If you take a look at the official Bootstrap website you will see that Bootstrap is described as an HTML, CSS, and JS framework which is used to develop mobile-first, responsive projects. It’s important to add that Bootstrap is an open-source tool that helps thousands of people create prototypes of their projects or build apps from start to finish using design time-savers like Sass variables included in Bootstrap’s built-in tools. It comes equipped with a grid system, pre-built components, and plugins that are built with jQuery to fit any project.

Simply put, Bootstrap is a wide array of tools that rely on re-usable code so that you don’t have to develop the building blocks of a website from scratch. To build websites that are as responsible as possible, Bootstrap makes the process easier by letting users utilize it as a front-end development framework. Even if you just want to create a simple layout, Bootstrap can help. By using a framework like Bootstrap, you will know for sure that your design is consistent, and no cross-browser issues will be encountered.

To begin with, the files you should know about include:

bootstrap.css – CSS framework

bootstrap.js –JavaScript/jQuery framework

glyphicons –Icon font set

What Bootstrap does differently compared to other frameworks is that it uses jQuery extensively. Without jQuery, cross-browser compatibility wouldn’t be possible, and JavaScript would be overly complicated. The Bootstrap package contains all the tools that a developer would need to build a regular user interface following the latest trends and requirements in terms of responsivity and versatility. If you’re tired of writing dozens of long code strings, including CSS, Bootstrap will help you by simplifying the process tremendously.

The Importance of a Framework

Developers know that deploying a project was not always as simple as it is today. It used to require hours and hours of work and the programming skills needed were intense. One single mistake could ruin an entire project, so the amount of stress and pressure that was put on the developer’s shoulders was enormous. As a framework, what Bootstrap does isto simplify the process of development, by keeping the code consistent and of high quality. Human mistakes are normal and having a well-tested and proven framework to build on is extremely convenient.

Writing code entirely by yourself remains an option, but it’s the more complicated path to follow.

With a framework, you can:

  • Prevent useless repetition
  • Adapt to different requirements without making drastic changes
  • Be consistent with your code
  • Prototype new designs quicker and easier than ever
  • Make use of cross-browser compatibility

Why Bootstrap?

So, frameworks are cool, but what makes Bootstrap a good choice? Well, since its appearance in 2011, Bootstrap instantly gained the recognition of web designers and developers for how flexible Bootstrap is and how easy it is to work with. If this doesn’t convince you to give Bootstrap a try, take into account that it has generous browser compatibility, you can re-use components quickly, and it has built-in support for jQuery. Bootstrap can be used with an IDE or editor of your choice, and it can be used alongside server-side languages ranging from ASP.NET to PHP or even Ruby.

But why do software engineers choose Bootstrap over other frameworks? The reasons are diverse. The main one is that it’s easier to master Bootstrap because of its intuitive design. The grid system does make a difference, while the numerous re-usable components make everything more convenient and flexible for a developer. The support for plugins extends the capabilities of this framework even more. Here is a more in-depth look at the benefits of Bootstrap:

It is a time-saver

Using Bootstrap is convenient because it can save a lot of time. It speeds up the development process hugely, while still maintaining the level of quality and consistency that every programmer strives for. When Bootstrap is used, developers don’t need to re-design specific elements to fit the needs across browsers, devices, or platforms or spend hours and hours trying to figure out where a mistake is present. Most of the hard work isn’t handled by developers anymore, but by Bootstrap itself.

By using Bootstrap, even back-end developers can come up with responsive front-ends, without investing time in understanding HTML and CSS. Bootstrap can be applied to a static site, a PHP site, a CMS – anything. Its flexibility is the feature that helps with saving time and avoiding making too many modifications. Moreover, you can download it from GitHub in a few minutes and start working right away.

Bootstrap has a responsive grid

Instead of spending hours to code your own grid, Bootstrap comes with one included. Say goodbye to wasted time by using the predefined grid system and start filling the containers with content of your choice. With Bootstrap, you can also define your custom breakpoints for each column and determine how big they want to be or stick to the default settings. Either way, it’s simpler and faster with a grid.

Image resizing

One of the time-consuming processes that developers are confronted with when they work on a project is resizing images. To make a site responsive, you need to reduce the load times, and images are the main cause of slow load times. Luckily, Bootstrap comes with its own code for resizing images automatically, using predefined CSS rules and adding a new class to the images.

Browser friendliness

In today’s world, people use all sorts of devices, platforms, and browsers, depending on their preferences. This is another aspect that makes Bootstrap convenient. It is compatible with most browsers and it helps with building scalable websites and apps that work everywhere.

High degree of customization

Bootstrap is also highly customizable. Web developers can make choices regarding the aspects they want to include in a project and modify them further to suit their needs, from the Bootstrap customizing page. By simply ticking a box, you get to turn features on and off. Some of these features include CSS aspects like modifying typefaces or print media styles, component aspects such as changing input groups, labels, or pagination, or even utilities that make the website more responsive.

Bootstrap is consistent

Bootstrap makes use of interior tools that always remain the same. The concept behind Bootstrap relies on pairing designers with developers and making the job easier for everyone, while keeping the code consistent and error-free, as stated by the co-founder of Bootstrap, Mark Otto.

It can be integrated easily

Bootstrap can be quickly integrated with other platforms or even different frameworks. You can use it on sites that are already existent or sites that will be published in the future. Some particular elements of Bootstrap can be utilized in the CSS you already have on one of these platforms and the integration will be done smoothly.

Some components are pre-styled

One of the most convenient approaches to styling a project is by using pre-styled components. Bootstrap includes pre-styled components such as dropdown menus, alerts, or navigation bars that you can use when developing a project. These pre-styled components help with creating a feature-rich project and they represent one of the biggest advantages of this framework. Pre-styled components are the big, open secret that sits behind impressive web designs.

The community is huge

The Bootstrap community is there to help you when you need it. The fact that Bootstrap is one of the most popular – if not the most popular – frameworks based on CSS means there is a large community to answer any question you may have or fix an issue that you are struggling with. The Bootstrap project is hosted and maintained using GitHub, and there are more than 500 contributors and almost 10,000 commits present on the platform. You should:

When you face problems, don’t forget to take a look at these resources too:

Bootstrap General Facts

Bootstrap comes in two variants: one that is precompiled and one that is based on a source code version. The latter variant is the one that uses Less CSS, but for those who are more inclined to Sass, they should access the official Sass port of Bootstrap. With Bootstrap, developers can also make use of the Autoprefixer to avoid wasting time with CSS vendor prefixes. Below you will find some general facts about Bootstrap that should help you use it immediately after downloading it.

How files are structured

Before moving further, you need to understand how Bootstrap files are structured. The structure is very simple and self-explanatory, compared to how it is presented in the case of other frameworks. The files are precompiled so that developers can use them immediately without delay. The CSS and JavaScript files are also minified and include fonts from Glyphicons. See how the basic form of the Bootstrap file structure looks:

All JavaScript plugins will work only when jQuery is included.

How does the HTML template look?

Next, you should familiarize with how a basic Bootstrap HTML template looks like. After understanding how the looks, it won’t be difficult to figure out this template:

<!DOCTYPE html>

<html lang="en">

<head>

<meta charset="utf-8">

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge">

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">

<title>Bootstrap Template</title>

<link href="css/bootstrap.min.css" rel="stylesheet">

</head>

<body>

<h1>Hello, world!</h1>

<script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.11.2/jquery.min.js"></script>

<script src="js/bootstrap.min.js"></script>

</body>

</html>

 

What components does it include?

Starting with simple buttons, dropdown menus, and alert boxes, Bootstrap has a comprehensive list of components for all types of scenarios. You can search for the class you are interested in and a list of all the components will pop up on your screen. Reading further about the included components should be useful, considering how numerous they are and how different they are in function. The design template is uniform, which means you won’t lose your project’s consistency. The visual design effort is thus minimized.

Consistent documentation

Bootstrap has very consistent and comprehensive documentation. All the blocks and bits of code used in Bootstrap are carefully explained. While reading the explanations, users will also be able to notice examples from within the code and figure out where it belongs. Most of the lines of code are used for implementing basic elements, but understanding the basics from the beginning saves a lot of time. Bootstrap is an ideal option for beginner developers because it allows people to select the exact components they want to include in a project and they don’t need to write the code from scratch. Most of the time, all it takes is a bit of copy-pasting.

The grid system

The grid system is useful for responsive, scalable web design. By using it, you can create a project that fits all screen sizes. In Bootstrap, you should know that:

  • The rows are placed in a fixed-width or full-width container to support correct alignment.
  • The rows are generated in horizontal groups.
  • When more than 12 columns are placed within one row, if another column is added it will be wrapped onto a new line, resulting in one unit.
  • You can use grid classes when the screen width is equal or greater than the breakpoint sizes.
  • For smaller devices, the grid classes are overridden.
  • Classes are pre-defined, but designers can make their own layouts based on them.
  • The Bootstrap grid system has 4 classes – lg, md, sm, xs – based on how many pixels the screen size has.

To understand the grid system easier, take a look at this image:

Layout examples

Finally, here are some layout examples you should analyze:

Starter template

Basic marketing site

Fluid layout

Narrow marketing

 

Narrow jumbotron

Album

Ending thoughts on what is Bootstrap

As you may have noticed, Bootstrap is a strong tool that makes the job of developers easier and more efficient. With Bootstrap, you can now painlessly create projects without worrying about integration issues or errors. The fact that Bootstrap is also free makes it one of the top choices among developers, regardless of their level of experience. Both front end and back end developers can use it effortlessly.

The framework is flexible and contains all the tools and documentation a developer would need to come up with responsive projects. Bootstrap can accommodate any need that a developer may have. And, if you ever get stuck, the community is always there to help.

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