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What is Bootstrap? An In-depth Guide for Beginners


A problem when developing software/websites with a large team, is that the end product produces many inconsistencies and bugs. The software would work, the bugs get squashed, but the end-product becomes a maintenance nightmare, plus the fact that performance might not be optimized. Hence, frameworks such as BootStrap were invented. Bootstrap is a free and open-source CSS framework directed at responsive, mobile-first front-end web development

Founder Mark Otto remembers Bootstrap’s humble beginning:

“A super small group of developers and I got together to design and build a new internal tool and saw an opportunity to do something more. Through that process, we saw ourselves build something much more substantial than another internal tool. Months later, we ended up with an early version of Bootstrap as a way to document and share common design patterns and assets within the company.”

It’s incredible how large companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter come up with their own tools due to the shortcomings of those already available. And these tools get adopted by the worldwide development community.

Formerly known as Twitter Blueprint, because its main function is to become a coding standardization tool within Twitter, and perhaps because the company color is blue, Bootstrap was created by developers Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton. Its primary function within Twitter was to become a framework to encourage consistency across internal tools. Before Bootstrap, Twitter used many different libraries for interface development producing many inconsistencies in the code making for a nightmarish scenario when it comes to code maintenance.

And Twitter saw that it was good. So they unleased Bootstrap upon the web development community in August 2011, as an open-source project, meaning it’s completely free. Development on the framework continues up to this day, and it is now in version 4.4.1.

Unlike other web frameworks like React and Vue, that focus on JavaScript, Bootstrap focuses more on style, meaning it’s more involved with CSS but does include Javascript components. Bootstrap’s main purpose is to standardize choices of color, size, font, and layout to that project. Once applied, it provides basic style definitions for all HTML elements resulting in a uniform appearance for prose, tables, and form elements across web browsers. CSS will hardly be a problem for developers when using BootStrap.

Bootstrap is fast and very easy to use. It includes HTML and CSS templates for typography, forms, buttons tables and navigation as well as several plugins. Its best aspect is that it enables responsive web layouts that adapt to the changes in screen size. The website will look good, whether it’s viewed on a desktop or viewed on mobile. Bootstrap can be used by including BootStrap into an existing web project or use Bootstrap from scratch.

Why use Bootstrap?

Bootstrap’s popularity stems from its philosophy of design uniformity and responsiveness. As mentioned, it’s a framework made up of reusable code written in HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Now CSS can sometimes be annoying to developers, especially if the webpage or app is not designed properly from the get-go. With Bootstrap, developers can set aside worrying about CSS and go about creating as they code. Apart from that, what else makes Bootstrap attractive to developers?

  • Very Easy to Use – it’s simple to integrate Bootstrap into an existing project. It’s as easy as copying and pasting some code from the BootStrap website itself, and downloading the BootStrap files or referencing them directly from the web. BootStrap will automatically modify the elements within site.
  • Compatibility – BootStrap is compatible with most major browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and even Internet Explorer 11, though scratch the last one entirely.
  • Customizability – the elements within the bootstrap framework can be customized according to your needs. As of this writing, the customize option is no longer visible on the website but can be accessed through this link. https://getbootstrap.com/docs/3.4/customize/ The option to customize stems from the rather large source files. Developers need to make their sites as fast as possible, so getting only those elements needed will produce smaller source files.
  • Responsive Grid – Bootstrap makes it easier to define responsive grids, which has always been a chore when it comes to web design. It has several pre-defined breakpoints that developers can use.
  • Responsive Images – making responsive images becomes a snap through Bootstrap. Images can automatically be resized depending on screen size. Image shaping also becomes possible, so developers no longer have to tinker with image manipulation software to create square or rounded images.
  • Javascript – Bootstrap also makes use of Javascript components in the form of JQuery. JQuery handles a site’s manipulation of DOM elements, event handling, and CSS animation.
  • Components – aside from JQuery, Bootstrap comes with plenty more elements that make life easier for the web developer. These components are an array of user interface components well-suited for modern websites such as navigation bars, alerts, media objects, carousels, badges, and tooltips.
  • Large Community – is essential for any web tool or framework to succeed. Bootstrap is supported by a large community of designers and developers. This community allows developers to lend advice, assist with issues, and interact with other developers as well as develop templates.
  • Templates – and because of a large community, Bootstrap’s ease of use and customizability, there are plenty of Bootstrap-based templates that make website development so much easier for those just getting started. There are plenty of websites out there that offer ready-to-use Bootstrap templates, either paid or for free.
  • Documentation – Bootstrap features a no-nonsense documentation on their website, which is actually more of a manual with plenty of code samples, which ensure that even beginners can clearly understand the framework.

A Little History

As mentioned, Bootstrap was created as a development tool within Twitter but has evolved into an open-source project for faster web development within Github in August 2011. The second version, BootStrap 2 was released shortly in January 2012 with several additional components and its vaunted responsive web design. Bootstrap 3 was released in August 2013 with an emphasis on mobile development. Bootstrap 4, the current version was finalized in January 2018 with major code rewrites, dropping support for older versions of iE8 and lower as well as iOS 6 and lower and improved styling of elements. Bootstrap 4 is supported by most major browsers Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari. Since it’s already 2020, Bootstrap 5 will soon be due with a major change by dropping JQuery and supporting ordinary Javascript, giving it the flexibility of other frameworks such as React and Vue.

Bootstrap 4 is currently the most used. Because of the major changes between versions, newer versions are not compatible with older ones. Developers may need to modify their work if they want to upgrade to newer versions.

jQuery

One of the cons of Bootstrap is, it uses jQuery. While it’s tempting for everyone to use jQuery as it’s pretty easy to learn and implement, it makes a site or app heavier. New Bootstrap version will remove jQuery from its core and include Vanilla JS. JQuery has become a bit outdated as new Javascript libraries came into play.

How Easy is BootStrap?

Bootstrap is very easy to learn. The basics can be learned in just a few hours and immediately applied to small projects. To really master the framework, it will take as long as a month of training and usage.

Where and How to Learn BootStrap?

Free Lessons – The web has no shortage of free lessons for almost any development tool imaginable. Below is a list of sources where you can learn Bootstrap for free.

  • Getbootstrap.com – https://getbootstrap.com/ of course, you can start from the guys responsible for the framework itself. It’s a no-nonsense approach to teaching Bootstrap. From there, you can download Bootstrap itself as well as copy and paste scripts to your own web projects.
  • WebsiteSetup Bootstrap Tutorial 2020 – https://websitesetup.org/bootstrap-tutorial-for-beginners/ is a one-page tutorial for beginners that’s easy to follow and discusses the common elements/components in Bootstrap. Great for true beginners.
  • Bootstratpious.com Big Bootstrap Tutorial – https://bootstrapious.com/p/big-bootstrap-tutorial – what better way to learn Bootstrap than in one of many obvious websites that are dedicated to the framework. There are several of them listed here. This is another one-page detailed but straightforward tutorial on how to use Bootstrap. Learning about any web development tool is always fun once you achieve some results. One must wonder why so many lists. Each tutorial page is different in their own ways and their own examples. The end result for this one is a simple landing page, and if that’s all your website needs, then this is the tutorial for you. Learners can also be free to mix and match lessons in these pages or even take these lesson pages one after another and master their teachings.
  • Mdbootstrap.com Bootstrap 4 Tutorial – https://mdbootstrap.com/education/bootstrap/ – This tutorial will gradually guide you to the basics of Bootstrap until you create a set of attractive webpages. Instead of a one-page approach, the pages are separated by topics (gradual), each with a short video explaining the topic and showing the text version and codes below.
  • Udemy.com Bootstrap Tutorial: A Guide for Beginners  – https://www.udemy.com/blog/bootstrap-tutorial-a-guide-for-beginners/ – Even though Udemy charges for its courses, it’s fortunate that it offers a detailed tutorial for Bootstrap that should be enough for anyone wanting to learn the framework. If you’re a fan of Udemy’s other courses, check out this free tutorial.
  • Freecodecamp.Org Learn Bootstrap in 30 minutes           – https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/learn-bootstrap-4-in-30-minute-by-building-a-landing-page-website-guide-for-beginners-f64e03833f33/ – by building a landing site page, Freecodecamp assumes the developer can learn how to use Bootstrap in 30 minutes. Maybe they’re not wrong. This free tutorial shortly discusses what Bootstrap is and then how to use Bootstrap’s concepts and components in one webpage of simple to follow instructions. The page also features sandboxes where learners can fearlessly play around with the sample code and see Bootstrap in action. So, in case you’re strapped for time in learning a new skill, 30 minutes should be enough.
  • Qhmit.com BootStrap Tutorial – https://www.qhmit.com/bootstrap/tutorial/ – if you want things a little more in-depth with pleasant shades of orange instead of eye-straining blue, Qhmit is the way to go. This is not a one-page tutorial, so learners who really want to learn fast but with more detail can learn as much as they can short of going to Getbootstrap.com. The tutorial is divided into topics discussing the various components available, each with code samples and the ability to see them in action. Each topic is presented in good detail. This site, however, focuses on Bootstrap 4 and even makes comparisons to Bootstrap 3 for the benefit of those who want to upgrade or are wondering which version to use. Unlike other sites listed here, Qhmit also has other free tutorials developers can use to complement Bootstrap, such as CSS, Python, and Javascript.
  • W3Resource.com Twitter Bootstrap Tutorial –   https://www.w3resource.com/twitter-bootstrap/tutorial.php – no difference really between Bootstrap and Twitter Bootstrap. Bootstrap is sometimes called Twitter Bootstrap as a reference to its origin. This tutorial goes in-depth and delves more into the concepts before going into each of the UI components. W3resource itself is a good tutorial site where learners can move on to other lessons after learning Bootstrap.
  • W3Schools.com Bootstrap 4 Tutorial – https://www.w3schools.com/bootstrap4/ – W3Schools has been around for a long time now teaching all manner of web scripting and may continue to teach as more popular languages arise. The website hasn’t changed much nor has its approach to teaching step-by-step, page by page. Through the years, their approach has been simple but effective. The interface is quite clean, almost serene, much like Qhmit.com. This tutorial is not limited to one page. Topics are in-depth and separated by concepts and components. It also focuses on Bootstrap 4, the current major version. Also, like some others listed here is home to other tutorials, users will find interesting, including Bootstrap 3, for those somehow required to use the older version. What’s great about this site is that they also feature sandboxes for learners to play with their code. It’s also very free.
  • Slideshare – Bootstrap Tutorial – https://www.slideshare.net/fajarbaskoro/bootstrap-tutorial-73229285 – Slideshare.net takes a unique approach with web tutorials. This is an excellent site for school instructors or trainers as this site already supplies presentations and even books on specific subjects, in this case, Bootstrap. The lessons here are extremely as detailed as a book. This site targets those who are really serious in learning Bootstrap or, as already mentioned, instructors of various topics. The tutorial can be downloaded as PDF and printed if required. There are still many out there who are fans of the printed material. The lack of easily available code and the requirement to type them is an effective learning factor.
  • Codecademy – Learn Bootstrap – https://www.codecademy.com/learn/learn-bootstrap – if you’re already familiar with Codecademy’s hands-on, step-by-step approach, then you should feel at home and quickly learn Bootstrap and immediately see it in action. Unlike the other courses listed here, you will have to sign up if you’re not yet a member. But once you do, you get access to dozens of other courses apart from Bootstrap. What Codecademy has going for it is that it’s used as a teaching aid by tech giants such as Google, Facebook, IBM, and NASA.
  • Bootstrapdash.com – Bootstrap 4 Tutorial An Ultimate Guide for Beginners –    https://www.bootstrapdash.com/bootstrap-4-tutorial/introduction/ is another Bootstrap-dedicated learning site also with a clean-looking interface. The lessons indicated in the sidebar suggest in-depth learning of Bootstrap’s concepts, then its components, and goes beyond the basics, which is quite useful. This tutorial site however, is not interactive as it does not feature any sandboxes. It’s up to the learner to see his code in action in his own code editor, though code can still be easily copied from the lessons. If you want a complete Bootstrap learning experience which includes customization, working with other frameworks such as Vue and React, Themes, and Plugins, this is the place.
  • Bootstrap 4 – Free Responsive Web Design Tutorials –    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUoqTnNH-2XyNhhLuYrrmrmV46jVw6RHF&ref=hackr.io  – This is one of many free video courses available on YouTube by YouTuber and Developer Brad Hussey. It consists of twelve short videos showing you how to use and the power of Bootstrap version 4. The most extended video here is just above 20 minutes and will collectively take 3 hours to complete without any interaction and testing.
  • Bootstrapbay – 14 Days of Bootstrap 4 – https://bootstrapbay.com/blog/14-days-bootstrap-4 If you’re not in a hurry, you can learn Bootstrap 4 within 14 days. The course is divided into 14 lessons, which means one lesson per day. The dedicated Bootstrap site looks clean and straightforward and includes interactive examples.

PAID Bootstrap Courses – Sometimes, learners need to be whipped into shape, or they simply thrive in a distraction-free classroom environment. If you’re not confident enough with the quality of teaching through YouTube videos, one-page tutorials and prefer a semblance of a classroom environment, and have some money to spare, then paid courses are for you. Below are some sources that take a more professional approach in teaching Bootstrap and can also provide you with certifications, solid proof that you’ll need for future employment.

  • Udemy Bootstrap 4 From Scratch With 5 Projects – https://www.udemy.com/course/bootstrap-4-from-scratch-with-5-projects/ – This is a follow-up to the free Udemy course stated above, Bootstrap Tutorial: A Guide for Beginners. This is an inexpensive course that will cost you up to 18.99 dollars as of this writing and a few hours of time. This course contains up to 11.5 hours of video, fulltime access, downloadable resources, and a certificate of completion. A must for developers looking for extra street cred.
  • Eudonix – Learn Bootstrap Development By Building 10 Projects –             https://www.eduonix.com/courses/Web-Development/Learn-Bootstrap-Development-By-Building-10-Projects Learning by example, is often the best way to learn. This website gives prospective Bootstrap developers ten projects to work with. The examples include a Photo App Sales Website as it’s always exciting to work with images, a Social Network Template to see how some social networking sites work, an E-commerce Template for some almost-real-world experience, learn animation with the Business Bootstrap Theme and a Blog Website.
  • BootstrapCreative.com Bootstrap Quick Start – https://bootstrapcreative.com/shop/bootstrap-quick-start/ – is one of many paid learning sites dedicated to Bootstrap. This site is run by developer Jacob Lett who took it upon himself to share much of his knowledge and promises that developers who have never built a professional website before can do so after the course. Not much is needed but an understanding of the big 3, HTML, CSS, and Javascript. The lessons are presented in a series of videos and several materials are provided including two full books as well as several cheat sheets and templates at a reasonable price of 67 dollars as of this writing.

Conclusion

Bootstrap is a relatively easy framework to learn, and developers can quickly conjure up professional-looking websites in no time with responsive elements perfect for PCs and mobile devices. For many, Bootstrap is an excellent beginning to learning how to use frameworks as well as responsive web design and later opt to more complex frameworks such as React or Vue. For smaller projects, it’s easy enough to keep using Bootstrap and simply add to it with a little more Javascript knowledge. It’s dependence on JQuery though, could be a bit intimidating to some as it’s another thing to learn in order to give websites more complex functionality. It would be tempting to wait for version 5 of Bootstrap as it scraps JQuery in favor of vanilla Javascript. Nevertheless, learning JQuery shouldn’t be much of a problem, given the many examples provided by the learning websites listed above.

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