During the early days of web development, developers didn’t have to worry much about screen sizes as most monitors had either 640×480, 800×600, or 1024X764 pixels resolutions.
The two main approaches to dealing with screen sizes were either using fixed-width layouts or liquid width layouts.
In the former, the width of an entire webpage was set to a specific value and remained the same as the size of the screen on which it was designed.
Liquid layout flexed depending on the size of the viewer’s browser. While fixed-layout could break if the viewer’s browser wasn’t the same as the design browser, liquid layouts provided more flexibility but weren’t perfect as such.
Their contents could overflow or break on smaller screens and leave lots of white spaces on larger screens. As more screen sizes became available, more approaches on how to solve the downsides of fixed and liquid layouts emerged.
Responsive web design is the latest of these methods and allows web pages to automatically adjust their layout and appearance based on a viewer’s screen properties such as width and resolution.
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Essentially the tool saves you from having to code your website or web application from scratch, giving you more time to build responsive websites.
The free and open-source tool is hosted on Github and available in a precompiled form or as a source code.
The precompiled version is the most basic form that can be quickly used In any web product.
It is used by designers and developers who would like to customize the code to build versions of Bootstrap specific to their projects.
If you download and unzip the precompiled Bootstrap v5 folder you see the following structure:
bootstrap/ ├── css/ │ ├── bootstrap-grid.css │ ├── bootstrap-grid.css.map │ ├── bootstrap-grid.min.css │ ├── bootstrap-grid.min.css.map │ ├── bootstrap-reboot.css │ ├── bootstrap-reboot.css.map │ ├── bootstrap-reboot.min.css │ ├── bootstrap-reboot.min.css.map │ ├── bootstrap.css │ ├── bootstrap.css.map │ ├── bootstrap.min.css │ └── bootstrap.min.css.map └── js/ ├── bootstrap.bundle.js ├── bootstrap.bundle.js.map ├── bootstrap.bundle.min.js ├── bootstrap.bundle.min.js.map ├── bootstrap.js ├── bootstrap.js.map ├── bootstrap.min.js └── bootstrap.min.js.map
bootstrap-grid.css is used for responsive layouts and is made up of rows and columns placed inside one or more containers.
bootstrap.css can be used as the main CSS file and can be overwritten in your own style sheet.
The .map files are used by developer tools such as the ones available in Chrome or Firefox to debug code as if it was not compressed.
The bootstrap-reboot.css file is used when you need to make a CSS reset which corrects inconsistencies across target browsers and devices.
You do not have to use all the files in the CSS folder. For instance, if you only need the grid you only include bootstrap-grid.css in all your HTML files and use bootstrap-grid.min.css while deploying your application online.
Just like in CSS the minified .js files are used when deploying an application online while the .map files are used by developer tools to debug code.
The framework’s source code includes the following:
bootstrap/ ├── dist/ │ ├── css/ │ └── js/ ├── docs/ │ └── examples/ ├── js/ └── scss/
Using source files enables developers to only use components they are interested in.
Since you only use the styles and components you need the final product is more compact, small, and efficient. This makes your website/web app faster to load.
There are three methods that you can to quickly use to add Bootstrap to your project and they include:
A content delivery network consists of geographically distributed servers that speedily deliver content. It’s a quick way to serve bootstrap files to a user.
Bootstrap recommends jsDelivr which is an open-source CDN used to serve files directly from GitHub repositories and npm registry.
Some of the advantages of using a CDN includes:
To use the jsDelivr CDN copy paste the CSS link below to the <head> section of your HTML file.
<link href="https://firstname.lastname@example.org/dist/css/bootstrap.min.css" rel="stylesheet" integrity="sha384-EVSTQN3/azprG1Anm3QDgpJLIm9Nao0Yz1ztcQTwFspd3yD65VohhpuuCOmLASjC" crossorigin="anonymous">
You can then include bootstrap bundled with popper or place the popper.js files separately before loading your Bootstrap js file in the order shown below to ensure proper functioning.
<!-- Loading Bootsrap bundled with popper --> <script src="https://email@example.com/dist/js/bootstrap.bundle.min.js" integrity="sha384-MrcW6ZMFYlzcLA8Nl+NtUVF0sA7MsXsP1UyJoMp4YLEuNSfAP+JcXn/tWtIaxVXM" crossorigin="anonymous"></script>
<!-- Loading the JS files separately --> <script src="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/@firstname.lastname@example.org/dist/umd/popper.min.js" integrity="sha384-IQsoLXl5PILFhosVNubq5LC7Qb9DXgDA9i+tQ8Zj3iwWAwPtgFTxbJ8NT4GN1R8p" crossorigin="anonymous"></script> <script src="https://email@example.com/dist/js/bootstrap.min.js" integrity="sha384-cVKIPhGWiC2Al4u+LWgxfKTRIcfu0JTxR+EQDz/bgldoEyl4H0zUF0QKbrJ0EcQF" crossorigin="anonymous"></script>
The CSS and js in the section above put together in an HTML template should have pages as one displayed below.
However, if you choose to use any other free or premium bootstrap templates fit for your project, ensure that they meet the latest design standards.
Note that to make websites faster and easier to work with, new themes as the one below using Bootstrap 5 no longer need jQuery.
Instead of using a CDN, you can download Bootstrap from the official website and use it locally on your project.
You can then load the CSS and js files as was done under the CDN option but this time by replacing the link’s ahref with the correct file paths in your local hard drive.
A package manager is a tool that keeps track of software installed on your computer and allows easy installation of new software, upgrades to newer versions, plus removal of previously installed software.
Using package managers such as npm and RubyGems, Bootstrap can be included in any project.
To do so you have to fast initialize the package manager in your project then use the command line to download a local copy of the framework inside your project folder.
You can then include the CSS and js file in the <head> and <body> sections of your index.html file respectively using the approach outlined in the section above.
While creating a functional and easy-to-navigate website/ web app with an aesthetically appealing UI might seem very easy, so much effort and a lot of patience goes into such a project.
Thanks to bootstrap, developers can build websites and web applications without having to code everything from scratch which saves time.
To make a project distinct you only have to be a little bit creative and modify certain elements.
If you are not satisfied with the frameworks design template, you can twerk the CSS file or combine it with the existing stylesheet to give your project a distinct look while still not having to code CSS from scratch.
You can also remove all the plugins and components not required by your project thus rendering the final product faster.
With a basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, and js you can easily use Bootstrap without much hassle.
As demonstrated in the How to use Bootstrap section, the installation process is swift and can easily be done by either a beginner or an expert.
The increased use of mobile devices with small user interfaces has made it compulsory for websites targeting mobile users to use responsive grid systems.
Being a mobile-friendly framework, bootstrap has a grid system that adjusts to the user’s screen size.
The 12 column system has a series of containers, rows, and columns that adjusts the layout and aligns with the displayed content.
The grid system can adapt all the available six break points that include:
Furthermore, the grid system contains classes but can help you show or hide specific elements on various target devices.
Did you know that bootstrap was developed by a group of Twitter employees with consistency in mind?
The developers wanted to achieve consistency across the company’s web pages and applications thus came up with a tool that eliminates the use of different libraries among developers working on the same project.
No matter who handles a project, Bootstrap is built to ensure consistency.
Furthermore, being a cross-browser-compatible framework means that it reflects the same output across different browsers.
Despite coming bundled with HTML and CSS templates with multiple user interface components such as forms, tables, navigation, carousels, buttons, and many more, the tool does not do everything for you.
Instead, it provides a set of defaults from which you can pick whatever components required for your project to quickly have a good website/ web app up and running.
Furthermore, it does not in any way limit your creativity as you can twerk it to fit your desired output.
To use Bootstrap you need to have a basic understanding of HTML, CSS, and js.
The framework does not teach you either of the three but only removes lots of tricky parts from your shoulder.
If you’re a newbie the tool should therefore not be used as a shortcut to your learning curve.
On a similar note, despite saving developers on the design bit, you cannot dismiss a designer’s help in building your own design theme when using Bootstrap.
A common mistake made by many developers using bootstrap is failure to read the documentation carefully.
By assuming various concepts on their own they thus generate bugs in their project which in turn generate unexpected results.
For example, despite making menu drop-down on hover instead of on click future being left out on Bootstrap as a best practice targeting touch devices;
some developers can insist on including the same feature not knowing it was left out on purpose.
Reading documentation outlining what’s new and what has been improved on the version that you are using for your project helps eliminate such mistakes.
While using bootstrap you have to be selective on the features you need for your project.
Do not use everything offered by the framework because it looks nice as your website can be overdone leading to compromised performance.
As a safe practice, you can quickly create your project using HTML and CSS then add the plugins required to achieve specific interactive functionalities one by one.
In summary, Bootstrap is one of the most popular responsive web development frameworks used by approximately 22.2% of all websites.
It is free and open-source and available either in pre-compiled form or as a source code. There are three methods that can be used to quickly pull bootstrap into a project.
You can either use a free open source CDN, download the bootstrap files locally to your project folder, or use a package manager such as npm.
Some of the reasons to use bootstrap include its time-saving nature, customizability, responsive grid system, and consistency.
It is important to note that the framework does not do everything for you. Furthermore ignoring best practices and using everything offered by the tool good compromise performance.
We hope that you’ve gained a lot from this piece and invite you to look at our other publications on Bootstrap and other web development topics.
This is an article under Acodes – coding article series from Acodez. You can read more coding articles here: ACodes Series
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