We all know Twitter Bootstrap, a great tool for quickly building “sleek and intuitive” web applications. But why are people actually choosing to use Twitter Bootstrap and why? And more importantly, why I think you should *not* use it (in most cases)!

Disclaimer: I am a frontend developer and wrote this blog entry from my point of view, so if you are a backend developer, take this with a pinch of salt and don’t be offended 😉

You hear it all the time: “You should really use Twitter Bootstrap! It’s really good and easy to use”. Also, I notice that bootstrap enables backend developers to quickly set up a frontend using twitter bootstrap. And suddenly they have to admit that a little frontend development can actually be a lot of fun. However, typically things turn bad once the project progresses…

So what can bootstrap do for you and what makes that people find it useful:

  • Quickly create a layout (fixed, fluid and responsive)
  • Quickly create a form
  • Everything imediatly in the same style
  • Reasonable grid system
  • Tables
  • Buttons

And there are many other useful things that bootstrap offers and allows you to add in no time. Just dive into it, it’s more than worth it…

When and what for should you use bootstrap?

  • A backend system without too much commercial purpose
  • A website without fancy design
  • Show (preliminary) functionality to a product owner during a project

So what remains and why should you *not* use bootstrap?

You have to consider that most frontend developers get their thrill from translating a spiffy design to HTML/CSS using client-side scripting when needed. They are typically good at just that thing using their own preferred tools and frameworks and typically less good at modifying existing code bases that they didn’t create from scratch.

So when better not?

  • When you are just interested in the grid layout, then there are better and more resource-friendly alternatives
  • If you are only using one or two features, why not build them yourself? (why not reuse?)
  • When dealing with a design of your own, you might end up removing bootstrap specifics or trying desperately to override them

To conclude, there are defintely reasons and scenarios where Twitter Bootstrap can be handy, but make sure that you don’t shoot yourself in the foot, because it might cause you more work in the long run. Especially when using bootstrap in a larger project, it might save you time in the beginning, but it might start to bother you and cost you greatly a little further down the road. In those cases, setting up your project correctly yourself from the beginning, is a more recommendable approach.