How to cook up your own Bootstrap site

David Cochran. 2012. Bootstrap Web Development How-To.

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By Peter Hulm

I’d downloaded Bootstrap twice – and gave up on it as too complicated to be worth the effort – until I came upon this little guide. Thanks to David Cochran, I’m ready to give it another go.

The idea behind Bootstrap is brilliant. You’ve got frustrated with Twitter’s 140-character limit and want something more permanent for your musings than a blog, but don’t want to spend hours learning to manipulate CSS code and Javascript. Twitter’s Bootstrap project lives up to its name by offering all you need to get started.

Be warned: you have to tinker with stylesheets and Javascript simply to get your website working. Bootstrap is not a no-coding formula for web creation.

The problem, at least for me, has been the documentation. It gives you much more than you need or probably want to digest if you are a web design snacker like me, rather than a gourmet.

Cochran, by contrast, offers a plain and simple Bootstrap cookbook that tells you exactly how to whip up a few tasty recipes and variations on standard meals.

It is, as the title suggests, not much more than a how-to. No advice on style or design principles.

But there is an up-side to these limitations. It’s almost a course in how to read stylesheets for the web and how to make your way through Javascript. It certainly encouraged me to go back to Bootstrap’s code confident I could now follow it.

Since January 2012 Bootstrap has come in a responsive-web version. That means it deals with all the code you need to post your pages on mobile devices as well as full screen without extra work. In all, a major advance in the project, and one that makes it worth persevering with its puzzles.

Cochran takes you through these new twists to the formula and the non-standard flavors Bootstrap adds to CSS. Thanks to this guide I now see them as a way of keeping you away from hours of hand-coding, and a useful guide to what you will need to do if you upgrade your design skills to recreate your website on your own.

But Bootstrap is now in its third edition, a major upgrade from 2, with simplified coding for responsive sites and changes in the class names. It's a pity the book deals only with 2. So I can no longer recommend it.

5 December 2012 revised 3 January 2015