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My First Leg Up with Bootstrap 3.1

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Before I offer some thoughts on Bootstrap 3.1, it might be wise to mention that, oh, Bootstrap 3.1 was just released into the wild. Usually an incremental ‘dot 1’ release might not be noiseworthy but, in this case, the folks at Bootstrap have offered support for a CSS preprocessor which directly competes with the native one in BS, LESS. That competitor might be SASS, of which much praise has been heaped, books have been written and sonnets composed.

Now onto some quick thoughts… Well over mid-way through our first project in Bootstrap, I’ve found much to like and, generally find it living up to its promise. In particular, here are a few positives which I’m jonesing on:

  • I’m finding it very easily customizable. Essentially, the only facets of the framework that might be a little trickier to tweak might be the Javascript-driven modules. But that’s really just because it is a more time consuming process to write or alter a script than to re-work CSS. For standard CSS changes, however, tweaks are a breeze. The paradigm for the entire framework rests on the idea that, besides the core frameworks elements, the developer can also link to project-specific CSS. To put it simply, including your own CSS is simply a matter of linking to two stylesheets in your <head> tag, with the custom stylesheet being the last one linked. In the event that your project demands modification of some of the pre-written CSS (say, for instance, you need your H3 elements altered from core), just write new selectors and declarations for your project, include them in your custom CSS file and away you go…
  • The pre-written CSS is generally awesome. Along with the scripts and built-in responsive elements (which are actually a product of both the CSS and scripts) the CSS framework is Bootstrap’s biggest timesaver. To give an example of some of the CSS related conveniences, let’s look at some recurring styling tasks most designers deal with on a daily basis. List elements, for instance, are all pre-defined in BS but the framework also ships with pre-styled classes that allow one to accommodate typical variant forms of commonly styled elements. In the case of lists, BS has pre-styled classes for ‘unstyled’ lists (i.e., lists without markers and a list style to make all list elements lay ‘inline’ (as in a navigation element.) Similar conveniences exist in nearly every design element you’re likely to use during the course of a project, including forms, buttons, tables and numerous typographic elements.

In the end, it’s these conveniences and the ease of their alteration that is quickly turning me into a Bootstrap believer. Any concerns about it’s potential limitations seem to have been unfounded. After all, BS really is just a bunch of pre-written HTML, CSS and JS. Just like modifying an off-the-shelf template, modifying a Bootstrap installation is just a matter of changing these elements, something most of us do nearly everyday.

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