Giving up Bootstrap

I’ve been a fan of Bootstrap for more than 4 years. While I was working on making a travel blog usable on a mobile device, I ended up with Bootstrap because it proved easier at the time (since writing CSS and HTML were not among my capabilities). Also, back then I was still looking for sleek eye-candy that could be added to the website, and Bootstrap scored well in that department, too. After quite a lot of tinkering and time spent getting used to the framework, I did manage to reach something close to the desired design. However, it didn’t feel quite like meeting my exact demands, even though it did the job admirably well.

A couple of years went by and I started a personal website & blog (the one you are reading now). Out of pure comfort, Bootstrap was my first choice as I decided to use Jekyll for building the actual website, using a theme made from scratch by myself. Again, it eventually worked and it looked fine. But after two months, something felt odd. Maybe it was me and my ideas & tastes that changed over time, but I was eagerly seeking simplicity and efficiency. The website needed to load fast and look simple, while still being usable on any device, no matter the screen width. I kind of wanted to get rid of most (if not all?) JavaScript dependencies I had at the time. Maybe it was that part of me focusing on things like the GNU Philosophy and having stuff & tools that were not bloated and did the job they were supposed to.

Anyway, one evening I started sketching a very simple HTML5 & CSS3 template. Two hours later, I successfully eliminated Bootstrap and almost all JavaScript my site was using. Everything was done using simple code and simple templates. The menus were simplified, fonts were adjusted and everything was checked against the W3 validators for CSS & HTML. Once the details were settled, I updated the site files on my server.

Up to this point, everything seems to work flawlessly. SEO integration is smooth thanks to the jekyll-seo-tag plugin, the pages are nicely displayed on a mobile device and the images are scaled when needed. In the end, I’m happy to have learned a bit more about CSS3 & HTML5 and this move gave me a little self-confidence boost, because not believing I have to rely on an external framework feels liberating.

Of course, Bootstrap remains a well respected “tool shed” and I would still recommend it to anyone trying to build a mobile-friendly website for the first time. But I wanted something that looked more personal, something I can easily maintain and use.

Strangely enough, I did the same in regards to the operating system I use on both my laptop & desktop. Being bugged down by Ubuntu’s bloated figure, I tinkered things a bit until reaching something I like to call “Suckless Ubuntu”. One month later, I took it a step further and switched to Void Linux. But I digress, as I will cover that in other posts.

To each his own, right?