Bootstrap is a front-end development framework that enables developers & designers to quickly build fully responsive websites. The framework contains global CSS settings with built-in components and extensible classes in the form of typography, navigation, buttons and much more.
Bootstrap also contains optional jQuery plugins that further enhance the framework.
Bootstrap was initially developed by former Twitter employees Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton, as an internal development tool to improve consistency and efficiency. Then, in August 2011, it was released as an open source project on GitHub and quickly became (and still is) the most popular repository on the platform.
While the framework was well received since the beginning, the surge in popularity really began once version 2 was released, the first update to feature responsive design capabilities.
As we mentioned in the history section, one of the biggest selling points of the framework is the 12 point fluid grid system. With the help of breakpoints & media queries, websites will dynamically adjust to optimal viewing on mobile & tablet devices.
To achieve this, users can specify at which point they want content to stack vertically as opposed to horizontally in order to fit on smaller devices. Of course, we’re only just scratching the surface and there’s a lot more to be said about the functionality of the grid.
Beyond responsive design, one of the biggest efficiencies gained from using Bootstrap is the amount of ready-made UI components that come standard with the framework. Some of these components include glyphicons, buttons, navbars, alerts, progress bars, and much more. Instead of designing these components from scratch, desginers can now simply customize them to their liking.
Community & Support
Bootstrap boasts an enormous community of loyal followers. You can almost think of Bootstrap as the front-end equivalent of WordPress. It’s one of the main reasons why many decide to use Bootstrap over Foundation and other front-end frameworks.
With such a large following of developers & designers, it’s no surprise that there’s a plethora of plugins available to extend Bootstrap’s functionality. There are also quite a few UI kits and several UI editors to help build your Bootstrap sites.
Like all great things, Bootstrap does come with some criticisms. The main one being that all Bootstrap websites tend to look the same. That is of course if you don’t modify the default styling in any way.
If you don’t want to spend the time customizing the default styling, the easiest way to distance yourself from the “Bootstrap look” is to strap on a premium Bootstrap theme.