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Bootstrap: A Guide to the Popular CSS Framework

Published on Jan 22 2023

Last updated on Apr 23 2024

Photo by Hannah Domsic on Unsplash
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Bootstrap is a popular front-end development framework that makes it easy to create responsive and mobile-first websites. It was created by Twitter in 2011, and has since become one of the most widely used CSS frameworks on the web. In this article, we'll take a closer look at what Bootstrap is, its history, why it's so popular, and some of the reasons why some developers avoid it.

What is Bootstrap?

Bootstrap is a CSS framework that contains a set of pre-defined classes, JavaScript plugins, and HTML and CSS templates. The framework was created to help developers create responsive and mobile-first websites quickly and easily, without having to write a lot of custom CSS or JavaScript.

The framework includes a responsive grid system, which allows developers to create layouts that adapt to different screen sizes, from desktops to mobile devices. Bootstrap also includes a number of UI components, such as forms, buttons, navigation menus, and modals, that can be easily customized and used in a variety of web projects.

Brief History of Bootstrap

Bootstrap was originally created by Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton at Twitter in 2011. The framework was initially called Twitter Blueprint, and was used internally by Twitter to streamline their development process. Later, the framework was released as an open-source project on GitHub, and quickly gained popularity among web developers.

Since its release, Bootstrap has undergone several major updates, with the latest version, Bootstrap 5, released in 2021. Bootstrap 5 introduces some significant changes, including the removal of jQuery dependency, the introduction of a new reset CSS file, and a new set of utility classes.

Why Everyone Likes Bootstrap

Bootstrap's popularity can be attributed to several factors, including its responsive grid system, its collection of UI components, and its ease of use. Let's take a closer look at each of these factors.

Responsive Grid System

One of the most notable features of Bootstrap is its responsive grid system, which makes it easy to create layouts that adapt to different screen sizes. The grid system is based on a 12-column layout, which can be easily customized using a variety of predefined classes.

This grid system allows developers to create complex layouts that look great on all devices, without having to write a lot of custom CSS or JavaScript. It's a major time saver for developers, and helps ensure that websites look great on any device.

UI Components

Bootstrap also includes a wide range of UI components, such as forms, buttons, navigation menus, and modals. These components can be easily customized and used in a variety of web projects, which makes it easy to create professional-looking websites without having to spend a lot of time on design.

Ease of Use

Bootstrap's ease of use is another major factor contributing to its popularity. The framework is designed to be easy to learn and use, even for developers with little or no experience with CSS or JavaScript. The framework includes clear documentation and examples, and there are a number of online resources available to help developers get started with Bootstrap.

Real-Life Applications of Bootstrap

Bootstrap has been used to create a wide range of websites and web applications, including e-commerce sites, social media platforms, and content management systems. Some notable examples of websites built using Bootstrap include the following:

  • Airbnb: Airbnb uses Bootstrap to create a responsive and mobile-friendly website that looks great on all devices.

  • Spotify: Spotify's web player is built using Bootstrap, which allows the player to adapt to different screen sizes and devices.

  • Udemy: Udemy's course pages use Bootstrap to create a professional-looking layout that's easy to navigate and use.

Why Some People Hate Bootstrap

Despite its popularity, Bootstrap is not without its critics. Some developers avoid using Bootstrap for a number of reasons, including the following:

Bloated Code

One of the most common criticisms of Bootstrap is that it can lead to bloated code. Because the framework includes so many pre-defined classes and UI components, it's easy to end up with a lot of unnecessary code in your project. This can slow down page load times and make it more difficult to maintain your code in the long run.

Lack of Customization

Another issue with Bootstrap is that its pre-defined styles and components can be difficult to customize. While it's possible to override the default styles with custom CSS, doing so can be time-consuming and may require a deep understanding of the framework's internal workings.

Dependency on JavaScript

Bootstrap also relies heavily on JavaScript, which can be a turnoff for some developers. While the framework includes a number of JavaScript plugins that add functionality to UI components like modals and tooltips, this can add unnecessary bloat to your code and slow down page load times.

My Take on Bootstrap

Overall, I think that Bootstrap is a powerful and versatile CSS framework that can be incredibly useful for web developers. Its responsive grid system and collection of UI components make it easy to create professional-looking websites quickly and efficiently.

That said, I do think that Bootstrap can lead to bloated code if it's not used carefully. Developers should be mindful of the classes and components they use, and should take care to customize the framework to suit their specific needs.


Ultimately, whether or not to use Bootstrap depends on the specific needs of your project. For some projects, Bootstrap may be the perfect solution, while for others, it may be more trouble than it's worth. As with any tool or framework, it's important to evaluate Bootstrap on a case-by-case basis and determine whether it's the right choice for your project.

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Written by Alissa Nguyen

Alissa Nguyen is a software engineer with main focus is on building better software with latest technologies and frameworks such as Remix, React, and TailwindCSS. She is currently working on some side projects, exploring her hobbies, and living with her two kitties.

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