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Getting Started with the Bootstrap Framework

Discover what exactly the popular Bootstrap web framework is and how to get started using it. We also share some useful resources that will have you building your site in no time.

Bootstrap. That’s a term which you may or may not be familiar with, so in this post, you’ll learn more about what exactly Bootstrap is (the web framework), as well as how to start using it and more. Without further ado, let’s get started!

What Is Bootstrap?

The popular business term, ‘bootstrapping,’ is the term given to a startup with minimal or limited financial resources. We’re going to be looking at the web design framework, Bootstrap, made by the guys at Twitter.

Welcome to Bootstrap

Like the definition mentioned previously, the framework allows you to quickly create your web application without having to worry about its design (because Bootstrap is free), especially whilst in the development stage of your site. It allows you to get cracking with the coding, and allows you to worry about the design later if you wish to do so.

You can find a lot of professionally designed Bootstrap themes, Admin and Dashboard Templates and Bootstrap Plugins & Extensions to customize the look and feel of the website.

The framework contains hundreds of different elements that can be used on your site, all of which are fully responsive too. These include a grid system, buttons, forms, panels, navigation bars and so much more.

Who Should Use Bootstrap?

Because of its ease of use, anybody can use Bootstrap! You can get started by simply including the CSS and JS files into your site, and adding some of the HTML elements – it’s really that simple. Having said that, not everyone should use Bootstrap, just because they can.

I’d say that Bootstrap is aimed at web designers and developers who want to, literally, bootstrap their new website or business idea. That’s all well and good, but in a production environment where you have customers using your site and want to give off a personal look, Bootstrap won’t be the option for you. It’s great for fast design ideas and layout mockups whilst working on your site, but it’s not so amazing on a live, public site.

Plus, if you’re fortunate to have a designer on your team or can afford one (or are in fact one yourself), Bootstrap may not be necessary for you to use, as you’ll want to use your own custom design. So, enough on who should use it, but now let’s take a look at why you’d want to use it.

Why Use Bootstrap?

There are, for me, three main reasons why you’d want to use Bootstrap. Firstly, the Bootstrap framework is free. There are various design frameworks which one can use on their site, but because it’s free, it gives it all the more reason to use it!

Secondly, it’s packed full of features and elements – I mentioned some of them above, and it’s all so easy to use, you’d be mad not to! Finally, it’s simple to customise if need be, especially if you’re wanting to create your own Bootstrap theme (more on that later).

How to Use Bootstrap?

The first step is to add the following line of code to the <head> section of your site:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="https://maxcdn.bootstrapcdn.com/bootstrap/3.3.1/css/bootstrap.min.css">

Next, you’ll want to add this line of code to the end of your site’s code, in the footer, along with jQuery:

<script src="https://maxcdn.bootstrapcdn.com/bootstrap/3.3.1/js/bootstrap.min.js"></script>

That’s it! Literally, that’s all you have to do! Now, it’s a case of going through the pages on the Bootstrap website, and finding which elements you want to include in your website. Look at the code examples, modify it to your liking, and include the code in your site.

For example, if you wanted to include a panel element, you’d go to the Components page, and find the Panels section. Then, take a look at the code examples – there are versions with and without titles, some of which are bold, and some which aren’t. Copy the original code from the example, add your own content to it, and then check out your new panel in the browser. It’s as intuitive as that!

Also, just in case you get stuck, sites like Bootsnipp contain loads of code snippets which will let you take Bootstrap the next level! Make sure you check that awesome site out.

Bootstrap Themes

If the default look of Bootstrap doesn’t quite hit it for you, you may want to use a Bootstrap theme, which effectively sits on top of the main framework and contains perhaps a different colour scheme or some other elements for your use.

Here are a few of my favourites, from Envato Market, which will work well for many different projects.

Xenon – Bootstrap Admin Theme

xenon

Xenon is a lightweight responsive admin theme built with latest Twitter Bootstrap and contains plenty of UI components, layout variants and theme skins which make a total of 128 HTML files.

Angulr – Bootstrap Admin Web App

angulr

Angulr is an admin web application template, built with Bootstrap 3 and AngularJS. There are many different features, including nested routing and views, and lazy loading.

Xpro – Onepage Multipurpose Bootstrap HTML

xpro

Xpro is a responsive One Page HTML Template built with the Bootstrap framework. Flat colours, clean and modern design made for creative, personal or corporate portfolio.

Bucket Admin – Responsive Flat Dashboard

bucket-admin

Bucket Admin is a premium admin dashboard template with flat design concept. Flat colour, customised charts, easy to customise and developer-friendly code.

Featured image: PinkBadger