First of all, web development is an interesting discipline because things are always changing, evolving, and improving. But, as a beginner to front end web development, the constant change could be a barrier to your learning and motivation.
So, let's talk about the topic, how can you use bootstrap in your next web development project? I will talk about my journey while I was learning to use the framework and end with a summarized recommendation.
Bootstrap is the most popular CSS framework for developing responsive and mobile-first websites.
This definition is probably what you'd see on many websites on the internet, but it sounds too formal to me. Let's break the definition down.
The oxford dictionary defines a framework as "a basic structure underlying a system, concept, or text".
A framework in web development means any program that helps developers make web applications easier or faster. They help to ease a lot of code management and make it easy to deploy a finished application in less time. Bootstrap is just another web development framework. And, it makes it easier for front-end developers to create beautiful layouts fast.
Responsiveness is the act of reacting quickly and positively
Today, there are many types of devices connected to the internet and visiting websites every day. Most of these devices on the internet do not have the same screen sizes. Their screen sizes vary a lot. These variations in screen sizes have always been a problem for web designers because no matter how well they design a website for the desktop browser, it still looks bad on iPhone or Android phones.
In the past, developers could just create different versions of the same website for different screen sizes. Today, this approach is not just old, but it is inefficient because there are almost infinite screen sizes out there and you seriously cannot create another website for every one of them.
Responsive websites are the solution
So what are responsive websites? A website is called responsive if it is developed to "adapt" to whatever device you are viewing it from. Today, so many websites on the internet are made responsive because it is more effective to build once for many screens than build a new one for each screen.
There are many ways to build a responsive website, and bootstrap is a really fun way to build on because of its grid layout. We will talk about this later in this article.
In web development, mobile-first has been a popular buzz-word in recent years. The strategy emphasizes that you build a website for a mobile device before designing for larger screens. Google pioneered this approach to developing web pages in 2010, and since a lot of other companies have added it to their engineering culture. But why do they give mobile preferences?
Because so many people use the internet from phones and other mobile devices. The numbers show a vast majority of users access the internet from a mobile device. Google and other companies that implement this mobile-first approach then see it as common sense to provide these users with a website that is more adapted to their devices.
The bootstrap framework works with the mobile-first strategy and you use it to build great mobile-friendly websites.
Read! Read!! Read!!!
Fortunately, the bootstrap documentation is not a boring 45-page document. You can check it out here:
I would help you navigate the parts you need to get up and running with bootstrap immediately.
1. Firstly, when you get to the homepage at https://getbootstrap.com click the "get started" button or click "documentation" on the navigation menu.
Read the entire page and copy the starter template to your project's HTML file.
2. Next, you need to read the "Layouts" section. It contains information about how Bootstrap's 12-column layout works and will give you a general understanding of bootstrap.
Do not forget to read the "Grid" and "Utilities for layout" subsections. They also contain very relevant descriptions and examples.
3. Next, visit the utilities section. There you will find information about positioning, spacing, colors, sizing, and display. This section is very important because it contains the bulk of what you need to confidently use bootstrap. You are advised to read all subsections of this section but pay special attention to borders, colors, spacing, sizing, position, display, text, float, and vertical-align.
4. Also, the Content section is another good-to-understand section. There you will learn about the bootstrap reboot, about typography, working with code, images, and tables.
By now, you should already have a fairly great understanding of how bootstrap works including how to create responsive webpages with it.
5. But, finally read all the other sections of the documentation whenever you have time. The extra understanding you find there will help you avoid pitfalls when debugging errors in your project.
I had written this article to help people that are now asking the same questions I had asked when I was learning about bootstrap. I hope this simple guide is helpful to someone navigating this section in their development journey.