Is Bootstrap Relevant in 2021?

May 21, 2021 by David Miller

Back in 2013 when Start Bootstrap was first founded, the responsive CSS framework battle was in full swing. Bootstrap was working towards their third iteration of the framework, and Foundation was soon to be left in the dust. By the end of 2013, with stable releases of Bootstrap 3 starting to roll out, it seemed that Bootstrap had won the war.

Fast forward to nearly a decade later. With the rise of JavaScript front-end frameworks and an ever-changing landscape of technology and tools, a lot of folks are out there asking if Bootstrap is still relevant in 2021.

The short answer is yes. Bootstrap doesn’t call themselves “the world’s most popular framework for building responsive, mobile-first sites” for nothing. On GitHub, Bootstrap outshines the up-and-coming frameworks in terms of popularity, and with a healthy level of active development taking place, Bootstrap is being improved upon on a near-daily basis as they work towards their next milestones.

Addressing Some Common Criticisms

Speaking of milestones, Bootstrap has moved Bootstrap 5 out of beta testing into their first stable releases, which is a very different framework than its predecessors in a lot of ways. One of the more recent criticisms of Bootstrap was its dependency on jQuery, which just doesn’t seem to play well with a lot of the front-end development options out there these days. In Bootstrap 5, jQuery has been dropped, which opens a lot of doors for developers looking to stay away from this particular dependency.

Another common criticism that we often hear about Bootstrap is that it includes too much in the way of CSS bloat. Sure, if you’re using the entire library you’ll be bringing in some unused features, but Bootstrap offers a more a-la-carte approach. Take a look at the new Optimize page on the Bootstrap 5 docs where they cover the process of optimizing Bootstrap by using lean SASS imports, lean JavaScript, and other techniques to cut down on the package size in a deployment setting. It’s like a lean, mean, Bootstrap buffet, where you can take the code you want out of Bootstrap and leave the rest behind!

Relevance Compared to Newer Frameworks

But what about other frameworks? The other rising stars? We have Tailwind CSS, the utility-first framework, or Bulma, the framework focused on an approachable learning curve. We also have tools like Angular Material or Material UI which adapt Google’s Material Design language in the context of a JS framework (Angular and React in this case, respectively). In the turbulent world of front-end development technologies, there are always going to be new tools out there that, in some cases, might just be a better fit for a certain project. That being said, Bootstrap has continued to iterate and improve. Since Bootstrap 4, they have offered a full suite of both CSS components and utilities, and with the move away from jQuery, Bootstrap 5 is now more relevant than ever in many, many use cases.

Wrapping Up

While it’s fair to assume that Bootstrap has been a bit overshadowed lately by some well crafted alternatives, Bootstrap is showing no signs of slowing down, and for what it is, it’s certainly relevant in 2021.

David Miller

David Miller

David Miller is the creator and founder of Start Bootstrap. He is a front end web designer working out of Orlando, Florida.