What is Bootstrap? — A Beginner’s Guide

Are you a front end developer who’s tired of writing CSS syntaxes over and over again? That’s your cue to start using Bootstrap! This article will cover the benefits of using the web framework and the way to embed it in your project correctly.

What is Bootstrap?

what is bootstrap? bootstrap home page

You’re probably familiar with the functionality of frameworks. Their collection of task-specific syntaxes allows developers to build websites much faster as they don’t need to worry about basic commands and functions.

Even so, there was a lack of consistency due to the extensive use of libraries which demanded a change. Bootstrap answered the call.

The open-source, front end framework was initially built by Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton for faster and easier front end web development.

It contains all sorts of HTML and CSS-based design templates for various functions and components such as navigation, grid system, image carousels, and buttons.

While Bootstrap does save developer’s time from having to manage the templates repeatedly, its primary objective is to create responsive sites. It allows a website’s user interface to work optimally on all screen sizes, be it on small-screen phones or large-screen desktops.

Therefore, developers don’t need to build device-specific sites and limit their range of audience.

Due to its popularity, more and more Bootstrap communities emerge. Those are a great place for developers and designers to exchange knowledge and discuss the latest framework patches.

3 Primary Files of Bootstrap

As Bootstrap consists of a collection of syntaxes that perform specific functions, it only makes sense that the framework has different types of files in it. Here are the three primary files that manage the user interface and functionality of a website.


Bootstrap.css is a CSS framework that arranges and manages the layout of a website. While HTML manages the content and structure of a web page, CSS deals with the layout of the site. For that reason, both structures need to coexist to perform a particular action.

Due to its functions, CSS allows you to create a uniform look on as many web pages as you like. Say goodbye to hours of manual editing just to change the width of a border.

With CSS, all you need to do is refer the web pages to the CSS file. Any necessary alteration can be done in that file alone.

CSS’ functions are not limited to text styles only as they can be used to format other aspects of the web page such as tables and image layouts.

Since CSS has a lot of declarations and selectors, memorizing all of them can take some time. We know how eager you are to get started, so here’s a cheat sheet to shorten the learning process.


This file is the core part of Bootstrap. It consists of JavaScript files that are responsible for the website’s interactivity.

To save time from writing JavaScript syntaxes numerous times, developers tend to use jQuery. It’s a popular open-source, cross-platform JavaScript library that allows you to add various functionality to a website.

Here are a few examples of what jQuery can do:

  • Perform Ajax requests like subtracting data from another location dynamically
  • Create widgets using a collection of JavaScript plugins
  • Create custom animations using CSS properties
  • Add dynamism to the website’s content

While a Bootstrap with CSS properties and HTML elements can function just fine, it needs jQuery to create a responsive design. Otherwise, you can only use the bare, static parts of CSS.

Need more information? Check out this article to know more about jQuery.


Icons are an integral part of the front end of a website. They are often associated with certain actions and data within the user interface. Bootstrap uses Glyphicons to fulfill that need.

Bootstrap includes a Glyphicons Halflings set that has been unlocked for free use. The free version has a standard look but is adequate for essential functions.

If you want to find more stylish icons, Glyphicons sells various premium sets that will undoubtedly look better on niche-specific websites.

You can also download individual and theme-specific icons for free on various websites such as Flaticon, GlyphSearch, and Icons8.

Some icons can be affected by CSS to change their look while others have default ones. Use the icons that best suit your site’s need.

How to Use Bootstrap

To get a better picture of how to use bootstrap, take a look at the example below.

<html lang="en">

<meta charset="utf-8" />
<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge" />
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1" /> 
<title>Bootstrap 101 Template</title>
<link href="css/bootstrap.min.css" rel="stylesheet" />

<h1>Hello, world!</h1>
<script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.11.3/jquery.min.js"></script>
<script src="js/bootstrap.min.js"></script>


Character encoding for the HTML document. In this case, UTF-8 refers to Unicode.

meta charset="utf-8"

States the character set that is used to write the website.

meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible"

Determines the version of Internet Explorer that should render the page. Using Edge mode, it’s set to use the highest mode available.

meta name="viewport"

Ensures that the page has a 1:1 ratio with the viewport size.

link href="css/bootstrap.min.css" rel="stylesheet"

This is the part where we add the Bootstrap core CSS.


Loads jQuery via Google CDN. It’s better to load it from the CDN via HTTP as the files can be cached for a year.


Adds the Bootstrap core JavaScript. This syntax must always be below the jQuery syntax to properly function. The addition process can be done via Google’s URL or manual download.


Bootstrap is a free front end framework that’s getting more and more popular among front end developers. It’s effortless to use and saves developers a lot of time from having to manually write syntaxes over and over again.

The framework is also very flexible and can accommodate almost every need for front end web development. Its best abilities include, but are not limited to giving responsive features that allow web pages to work optimally on all screen sizes.

If you’re a front end developer, this is the perfect time to use Bootstrap.

The author

Jordana Alexandrea

Jordana is Hostinger's Digital Content Writer. She is passionate about website development, SEO, and the growth of information systems. During her free time, she dabbles in freestyle writing and the latest gaming news.