Front-end development is full of libraries and frameworks. It’s tough when you start to distinguish between what you must learn and what is nice to have.
Software development is a broad field. Picking the area you want to work in can feel like finding a needle in a haystack.
You should definitely learn Bootstrap. It is easy to pick up and remains the most used CSS framework in the world. It’s also a fantastic entry point to CSS frameworks if you haven’t learned one before and has great documentation.
However, whether you should spend your time learning Bootstrap depends on several factors.
There are so many frameworks that it may not make sense for you to jump in and learn Bootstrap.
Let’s take a closer look at why it’s worth learning and the things you should consider before diving in.
What are the advantages of learning Bootstrap?
Bootstrap hasn’t climbed to become the most used CSS framework in the world without merit. Using it has some major advantages for developers.
Before you decide on whether to learn Bootstrap it is important to know the benefits of doing so.
- Time: Bootstrap saves you a lot of time. You don’t have to worry about creating bespoke code for your site’s layout. You also rarely have to switch between your HTML and CSS files which adds up.
- Consistency: CSS frameworks offer a consistent approach across all projects, platforms, and browsers. You get the same results in Firefox as you do in Chrome.
- Responsiveness: Bootstrap offers responsive design out of the box. So you don’t have to worry about manually coding all the different breakpoints.
- Community Support: Community support alone means you should learn Bootstrap. It is exceptionally well documented and the chances are that someone has already run into the problem you are facing.
- Focus: Learning Bootstrap will allow you to focus on the functionality of your website. Rather than getting caught up trying to get images to align properly, you can start coding other cool plugins.
- Customizable: Thanks to theming you can modify Bootstrap to your heart’s content. You can inherit the things you like and completely change the things you don’t. For devs looking for a solid platform to start on, it’s hard to beat.
Is it worth learning Bootstrap in 2023?
CSS frameworks in particular are great for rapid development and are not too difficult to learn.
You don’t have to fret over responsiveness and structure because it is offered out of the box. You don’t have to worry about styling as this is covered by Bootstrap too.
So it’s a no-brainer, you should learn Bootstrap, right?
I’m a big advocate of front-end frameworks. But there are some considerations you need to make before taking the time to master one.
Do a quick search for front-end developer roles in your area. Look at the requirements for the job posting. Repeat this process for software engineering jobs and web developers’ roles.
If Bootstrap isn’t coming up in any of the job adverts then you shouldn’t learn it. Learning to code is all about making sure you get a job at the end of it.
If companies in your area are looking for Tailwind CSS or Semantic UI experience, then build some small projects with those instead. Don’t waste your time learning Bootstrap.
Each location is different and each company has different requirements, so always keep an eye out on the local job market.
Even when you become a full-time web developer, you will always keep learning. There are constant evolutions to the technologies we use.
Getting in the habit of being comfortable with learning is something you will have to do to succeed in development.
If you enjoy acquiring new knowledge and creating side projects with it, then you should go ahead and learn Bootstrap.
Having the ability to use a CSS framework is always going to be positive long term. It improves the depth of your knowledge and exposure to the industry as a whole.
Type of job
I’ve previously discussed what it’s like to be a programmer and how the role can vary depending on the type of job you have.
So the decision on whether you should learn Bootstrap depends on the type of job you want.
My first role was building websites and exclusively using Bootstrap. Whereas the role I am in now doesn’t use a CSS framework at all because we use React.
Make sure to have an idea of the type of job you want and then find out what they require.
If you want a code-heavy, app-based front-end role then picking up Bootstrap or any other CSS framework may not be necessary. However, if you intend to build websites for an agency I’d put some time aside to learn a CSS framework.
The future of CSS frameworks
Bootstrap is not exactly the new kid on the block. It was originally released in 2011 and has had a few major version releases, the most recent in Bootstrap 5.
Despite usage remaining relatively high, interest has waned in the framework. Newcomers like Tailwind CSS, Semantic UI, and PureCSS, are surging in popularity and may topple the Bootstrap eventually.
Like I said in the section above, learning a CSS framework is never a bad idea
But you may want to look for jobs that are using more modern CSS frameworks. If you want to pick up something newer, I’d avoid learning Bootstrap.
There is a component library in React called Reactstrap that allows you to use Bootstrap 4 components.
If you are looking for a React role I’d skip learning Bootstrap and jump straight into Reactstrap. It is well-documented and means you will pick up the basics anyway.
Learn Bootstrap after CSS
The one golden rule for learning a CSS framework is to have a solid understanding of CSS fundamentals first.
So many new developers try to skip CSS and use frameworks as a crutch. Long term this isn’t a great approach. It leaves you with a shallow knowledge of CSS which can easily be found out in an interview.
You shouldn’t learn Bootstrap unless you have a good idea of how CSS works under the hood.
It is worth taking the time, and frustration, to put together a few sites with vanilla CSS before learning a framework.
Why you should learn CSS before Bootstrap
By learning and using Bootstrap you will rarely be delving into raw CSS and writing the properties yourself.
While this saves you time, it also means you won’t understand what CSS properties do. If you want to customize Bootstrap or onto using preprocessors like SASS, it will be difficult.
It is vital that you have a good understanding of CSS and can use it before learning Bootstrap. Otherwise, you are effectively running before you can walk.
Understanding the basics is important. In job interviews, they are likely to ask you CSS questions rather than CSS framework questions. Frameworks come and go but CSS is eternal.
You need to understand why elements are interacting with each other and how changing certain properties can affect a page.
If you skip straight to a framework you may fall short on even the most basic CSS questions. It’s not a good look, especially if you want to be a front-end developer.
Depth of Knowledge
Having a solid understanding of CSS helps you broaden your understanding of front-end development.
Long term this information will serve you well.
By skipping CSS and learning Bootstrap you are doing yourself a disservice in the long run.
As a full-time developer, you will have plenty to learn. So make sure you nail the basic stuff early on and then you can progress onto more challenging topics.
If you learn Bootstrap straight away you may find yourself fighting against it. I know I did.
You may use classes incorrectly and parts of the webpage break. Without understanding CSS first it will be impossible to debug these issues.
The frustration of things breaking can be demotivating while you are still learning.
By brushing up on the basics you avoid a lot of this frustration. Accruing the right information as you go helps find the causes of bugs early on.
Bootstrap is well documented and you can copy and paste working code directly from their site. So the chances of these issues occurring is even greater, especially when you try and customize stuff.
I’d highly recommend that you learn Bootstrap. It is still the most used CSS framework in the world and is incredibly well-supported, which is perfect for beginners.
If you are going to be building websites, then learning Bootstrap or a similar CSS framework will help you get a job. Make sure to check the requirements for job postings in your local area to find out which one you should invest time into.
It can seem tempting to skip over CSS and dive straight into Bootstrap but don’t do that. Appreciate the learning process and acquire knowledge as you progress.
Future you, will thank you for it.
Nathan Britten, the founder and editor of Developer Pitstop, is a self-taught software engineer with nearly five years of experience in front-end technologies. Nathan created the site to provide simple, straightforward knowledge to those interested in technology, helping them navigate the industry and better understand their day-to-day roles.