What is Bootstrap and How does it Work?


What is Bootstrap and How does it Work?

Web developers today have a number of advanced frameworks and tools at their disposal, that sets them apart and ahead of their counterparts of even a few years ago. One such framework that has made web development considerably more streamlined, and expanded development to better include the mobile experience.

It is known as the single largest and fastest growing JS, HTML and CSS framework that can be used to build interactive and engaging web projects. A front-end framework, Bootstrap enables development to become faster and more streamlined.

A framework such as Bootstrap can be useful for any web developer, as part of their technical arsenal. In this article, we will be taking a close look at the Bootstrap framework and all its fundamentals, as well as some benefits of learning how to use it.

What Actually Is Bootstrap?

Simply put, Bootstrap is a massive collection of reusable and versatile pieces of code which are written in CSS, HTML and JavaScript. Since it is also a framework, all the foundations are already laid for responsive web development, and all developers have to do is insert the code into the pre-defined grid system.

There are some free tools that come as part of the package, which permit designers to build the more common website interface components, as well as more responsive ones, adding to the versatility of the framework.

Typically, it saves you from having to write long strings of especially CSS code. This gives you more time as well as capacity to work on the design of the webpages themselves. At the moment, Bootstrap is hosted by GitHub.

Bootstrap for Responsive Design-based Development

Responsive website designs are nothing new. In fact, they have been the preference of web developers for many years, as responsive websites are significantly more engaging that static ones. The massive shift is preference came later, when mobile web development picked up steam and became almost as common as regular web design.

Additionally, the concept of a framework was also alien to designers, as many were used to development from the ground up. However, this proved not to be so, as it was quite simple to understand and work, without extensive knowledge of responsive design concepts.

The responsive features allow the web pages to appear correctly on different screens (mobile, tablet, desktop, etc.). Images are also automatically adjusted according to the viewing screen by the pre-defined CSS guidelines, with the addition of the .img-responsive class.

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Primary Bootstrap Files

As a front-end framework, Bootstrap has three primary files:

  • bootstrap.js which is a jQuery/JavaScript framework.
  • bootstrap.css which is a CSS framework
  • glyphicons which is a set of icon fonts

jQuery, which is quite widely used and very popular JavaScript library, is required for Bootstrap to function. It adds cross browser compatibility and simplifies JavaScript.

Bootstrap Components

With Bootstrap, developers have a range of components at their disposal, which can be inserted on to the website. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Drop-down menus
  • Navigation bars
  • Progress bars
  • Thumbnail images

Each of the components are built on a uniform design template, which allowed for a more consistent design theme throughout the development process. Additionally, it takes the visual design effort out of the equation, since the central library houses pre-arranged sets of layouts and designs.

Documentation and Customizability in Bootstrap

On the Bootstrap website, there is a definition and explanation for all the important pieces of code that will be used in the development process. There are also samples of code available among the explanations. These code pieces are used to implement basic elements, and serve to better describe how code functions within the Bootstrap framework.

What’s really special about Bootstrap, and what makes it ideal for beginner developers, is that it allows you to select the component, copy the code on to the page you are designing, and make adjustments from there.

As far as customizability goes, there are two faces to it. On one hand, the size of the framework is quite large, which causes the application to slow down considerably when loading for the first time. The most recent version of the CSS file for Bootstrap is 119 KB. Now, this may seem insignificant when compared to images and other multimedia files; however, this is a CSS file, and from that perspective, it is huge!

On the other hand, Bootstrap does allow you to get around this issue, by allowing you to adjust the functionality you would like to be included into the download. This can be done by visiting the customization and download page and checking off the features that won’t be needed for the application, making the file smaller and reducing the download time.

Grid System

The grid system in Bootstrap is one of the primary elements. They create layouts of pages by using multiple columns and rows in which the content can be inserted. If the device screen on which the page is being viewed, gets bigger, the grid will scale up to 12 columns. This fits the page on to the screen.

There are pre-defined classes by which designers can make their own layouts. In case you want to place additional focus on the layout structure instead of the presentation, the grid will use Less mixins.

The grid system can also collapse to fit smaller screens. This flexibility allows designers to create more visually and technically comprehensive websites, with comparatively less effort as compared to a non-framework development foundation.

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