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Web Development Decisions.

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I am going to write a responsive website.  There are better ways to doing things sometimes, however there is always the question of is it worthwhile to learn something new versus using what is already known.  From time to time there is some new way of doing something.

I want to get a small website developed under my belt and am going to use html5, css3, and media queries, (JavaScript.)  However I was wondering what you all think of Bootstrap, what it is exactly and if it is worthwhile for a newbie as a learning investment, like me.  Also, does it have a price?

And without getting to technical are there any other technologies for responsive web development that would make sense learning instead that pay of well without a lot of time learning?




Edited by Josheir

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Web development is a dizzying array of software that changes by the week. Pick something and learn it, regardless of what it is, someone will tell you next week that it was a terrible choice. I think this (largely satirical) article lays it out well.

I highly recommend that you go in the other direction, though, and design your app to be non-responsive in the first place. It's a lot easier to add responsive elements for higher-powered machines, than to subtract them for mobile phones and other low-end machines...

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I loathe web development, but it has become the necessary evil in a programmer's life. There are many different web frameworks out there, and each has its own styles and ways of making web development "easier" and "cleaner". Of course, that statement is highly subjective, and bound to change in the future as new and "better" frameworks come along.

In my opinion, it all comes down to your personality. Some programmers like a big framework to work on. Some popular ones nowadays are: React, Angular, and Polymer. You typically need to install a backend (the server that serves your HTML) node.js with npm/bower/gulp and stuff, code in this pseudo-HTML/JS/TS, then build and compile your code into the HTML/CSS/JS that your users will be looking at. You are no longer working directly with HTML and JS files with these frameworks.

Example of this pseudo HTML/JS (taken from React):

class Square extends React.Component {
  render() {
    return (
      <button className="square">
        {/* TODO */}

Then there are the micro JS frameworks. They are somewhat less authoritative, and you can still add them to your HTML manually with the <script> tags. Examples include mithril, Vue, and pretty sure there are dozens others. They try to make web development simpler, while keeping the original spirit of HTML/JS intact, and without the necessity of downloading an entire framework with a bunch of npm dependencies. They typically provide the data-binding without forcing you to write in a pseudo HTML/JS like above. This is my preferred method of web development, but I have never been paid to do a frontend development. So, take my advice with a grain of salt.

Then there are CSS frameworks. Bootstrap is a CSS framework. It comes with predetermined set of CSS classes to make responsive web. You can use Bootstrap if you are still coding the web like it's 1999, since all you need to do is to include the bootstrap.css into your HTML files and use them in your <div>s and see the magic happens.

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Regarding responsive layout, doing it "by hand" (probably with the help of CSS preprocessors like Sass), figuring out what you want in your layout and how it can move and change on different screen sizes is probably likely to produce a higher quality  final result and be more difficult (and instructive) than relying on a CSS framework and making your site look like everybody else's site.

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I do believe that learning Bootstrap is worthwhile. Here is my list of reasons.

  • It's mature, maintained and actively developed (they released a new major version recently).
  • You can customise the basic look and feel without a lot of effort.
  • You get something that looks nice out of the box. Honestly, unless you have some serious experience in graphic design, the first hundred style sheets that you write will make your website look like the equivalent of a 5-year-old's drawing.
  • It's widely used, so you will find a lot of examples and support on the internet.
  • Using a (kind of) well-designed CSS framework will help you learn how to design your own CSS classes.
  • If you are just starting web development, you will have to learn a lot of other stuff already, so keeping CSS for later should make things easier for you.
  • Also, answering your question, it is free.

Now, here are some reasons not to use/learn Bootstrap.

  • You want to focus on learning CSS.
  • You only want to build a very simple website with a header and some text, no fancy layouts, no styling forms, no menus with dropdowns and accordions, etc.
  • You are going to use another CSS framework instead.
Edited by Avalander
The editor doesn't support Cmd+Enter to jump to a new line.

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A CSS framework is a collection of styles designed to provide a consistent look and feel to a web page easily and without the user having to write any CSS.

Josheir, we can gladly help you with any questions you have on what to use for this or how to use that or why does this thing behave that way. But if you want to get far in programming, you really need to start learning how to google stuff. Should I use bootstrap for this project? Is a question that we can provide insight on. What is a CSS framework? is easily googable, with a good Wikipedia page answering the question, and you wouldn't have had to wait eight hours to get an answer if you had just google that.

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