Bootstrap is the most popular HTML, CSS, and JS framework to create responsive mobile-first web sites and web applications. Which means it helps create a website that conforms itself to any screen sizes and which are designed primarly keeping in mind the mobile devices and then scale up - from smartphones to large desktops.
There are hundreds of thousands of website that are currently active built using Bootstrap. These include Vogue, NASA, Blackbox, University of Washington, FIFA, Vevo, Rotten Tomatoes, etc. just to name a few. There are many more websites that truly takes advantage of the power of Bootstrap and are equally creative and inspiring, if not more.
There are a lot of advantages of using Bootstrap. It saves you a lot of time, it brings consistency to your project, and the best part? It's fast, easy, compatible with all modern browsers and it’s free!
Since Bootstrap 3, it is mobile first. That is we design our page for mobiles first and then build our way to adapt to a larger screen by adding more components. Which makes sense, given that by the year 2020, mobile and wireless devices will account for two-thirds of the global IP traffic, according to CISCO - Trends and Analysis.
With its latest version Bootstrap 4.0.0 currently in its beta release, Bootstrap 4 is a major rewrite of its previous version. Bootstrap 4 has been in alpha for almost 2 years! There are a lot of changes from its previous versions in terms of Bootstrap components and visual appearances. Read more about the differences between Bootstrap 3 and Bootstrap 4 in Bootstrap 3 Vs Bootstrap 4: What's New?
And also the latest beta version also brings more changes to the framework. Read more about the latest release in What's New in Bootstrap 4 Beta.
Okay, what is all this fuss about Bootstrap? Why is it so popular? What's so great about it?. Let’s see...
- It’s open source - Bootstrap is completely free to download and use it in your project.
- Easy to get started - anyone can get started with Bootstrap with just the knowledge of HTML and CSS.
- Great grid systems - Bootstrap has a powerful 12 column grid system using flexbox to help you build different kinds of responsive, beautiful layouts very easily.
- Responsiveness - One can not ignore the fact that how easy it is to create a responsive website with Bootstrap. Responsiveness of a website is a major factor for a great user experience. A user should have a smooth working experience of a website on any device. Bootstrap responsive classes you can easily create a responsive design.
- Mobile First - Bootstrap is mobile-first. This means you build your website from a smartphone level and then scale it up to conform to the bigger screen sizes.
- An extensive list of components - contains beautiful and functional built-in components which are easy to incorporate into a website and easy to customize.
- Consistency - provide a clean and uniform solution for building an interface for developers.
- Browser support - Bootstrap is supported by all the popular and modern browsers.
- Community - Bootstrap has a huge support community behind it. So whenever you run into any issue, you will be able easily resolve it. Bootstrap is currently being hosted, developed and maintained on GitHub.
Criticisms Against Bootstrap
Though Bootstrap has an ever growing popularity, it is not free from criticisms. It's only fair that before getting any further, we look both sides of the story.
- One of the major criticism Bootstrap faces is that the websites created using Bootstrap, all tend to look the same. It can be customized to take away the typical Bootstrap structure but can require lots of overriding styles or rewriting of their files.
- The presentation and the content are no longer separate. HTML is no longer semantic. So essentially a web developer can also do the design part of the website.
- The size of the DOM structure that Bootstrap Produces, because the elements are packed with many classes.
To sum up...
Bootstrap is a front-end framework that is used by many in the front-end development world. Bootstrap is the perfect solution for when you need a clean design and no compromise in functionalities in a lesser amount of time. Thus getting the website or web application up and running significantly faster. This gives an added advantage of putting more time and effort to other important areas like the content of the site and backend integration etc.
There are a lot of people who write about why they don't use Bootstrap or recommend others that they don't use Bootstrap or any frameworks altogether. And they have interesting perspectives and credible reasons as to why.
But, if you are going for a framework Bootstrap is the way to go, probably the best one. Although Bootstrap has its fair share of criticisms they are greatly overshadowed by the benefits of using the framework. As the framework continues to grow and improve the reasons for not using the framework also scale down.