All web designers looking for a front-end framework which is responsive and simple must have heard of Bootstrap and Foundation – these two are the frameworks which are the most popular at the moment. Many designers might be confused as to which to go for – Bootstrap or Foundation? Many designers might be confused as to which option will be the most ideal for efficiently creating a new website. The answer depends on a lot of factors – and mainly on the designers themselves and their personal preferences. Each option has got its own advantages and disadvantages. The decision is to be taken based on one’s familiarity with code and their situation and needs. An interaction design company, ZURB (with clients like Facebook, eBay etc) is the brain behind Foundation, while Bootstrap is a creation of individuals who are former employees of Twitter.
A grid system is what is first noticed in a front-end framework. Various layouts can be prototyped by designers using a grid system, followed by making the required adjustments. Foundation built a reputation using the grid system, and became responsive even before Bootstrap – Foundation was also the first one to prioritize a mobile-first approach. While there is no denying the fact that Foundation was the first of the two to go responsive and prioritise a mobile-first approach, and it had built a reputation using the grid system before Bootstrap, it is also true that Bootstrap is now at par with Foundation as far as any advantage regarding the grid system is concerned.
Foundation features a block grid which enables designers to go about the efficient division of the contents within lists which are unordered into an evenly spaced grid. Due to the collapsed class, collapsing columns and removing gutters can be quickly done using Foundation. The center columns syntax can also be alternately used to remove center columns. Equivalent code snippets which work in similar ways can be produced in both frameworks. However, the syntax for grid-building can differ – the choice will have to be taken on the basis of personal preference.
For grids which are pre-defined and flexible, the default grid systems in both Bootstrap and Foundation can be used for total customization – Less for Bootstrap and Sass for Foundation. Breakpoints are attached to the default grid mode of Bootstrap – when the viewport is at its limit, you will see static-sized widths that will recede. However, the width will rely on percentages if the class row-fluid is used. Pixels are what Bootstrap relies on, for the calculation of widths, typography etc. However, Foundation relies on rems. Despite the differences between pixels and rems, the same results can be created. Again, it is not about which option is ‘better’, but which one is ‘preferred’ by the designer.
For those graphic artists and web designers who do not possess much experience, pixels might seem familiar. Rems makes designers give more thought to proportions. Rems are relative units while pixels are absolute units. In the era of responsive design, this is a factor that has to be given consideration. Again, don’t stress over which one is ‘better’ – it’s more a factor of personal preference and what you are comfortable working with. You should go for Bootstrap if you prefer working with pixels – the width, height etc of components have to be specifically set while using pixels.
To an individual who is new to front-end frameworks, both Foundation and Bootstrap would seem like sets with pre-built features which are identical. The differences, though small, are very much there – understanding these differences is important prior to decide which one is right for you. Built-in form validation from Abide is what Foundation comes with – this is a feature that is absent in Bootstrap. Again, this is not a feature that makes Foundation ‘better’ than Bootstrap, but simply a matter of personal preference. Another feature of Foundation is Interchange – responsive content are loaded based on media queries according to the suitability for different browsers.
Other features of Foundation include off-canvas navigation, right-to-left support etc. From the viewpoint of designers, Bootstrap come with more ‘complete’ features which seem to be better thought-out as compared to Foundation. To illustrate, the pre-built features of Bootstrap are great for efficiently and quickly carrying out the goal of creating a website which is functional and with a theme. Those designers who prioritize productivity might be better off going for Bootstrap. Incorporating responsiveness to different elements with Bootstrap is also easy thanks to the addition of responsive embeds.
From the titles of ‘Bootstrap’ and ‘Foundation’ itself, one might get an idea about the visual customization offered by each. Bootstrap allows designers to quickly and efficiently create a website and have it functioning in no time. As more customization options are offered by Foundation, the process can be slower. When you build a website using Bootstrap, the final result can come with the ‘visual tag’ of Bootstrap – i.e. it might be obvious to many that you had used Bootstrap to create the website. If you do not want your website to have this ‘Bootstrap’ look, you might have to spend more time and effort on customization using the custom styling features. Of course, there is nothing bad in it being obvious that your website was built using a certain front-end framework – in fact, the ‘Bootstrap look’ was one of the reasons behind Bootstrap’s initial popularity – but some individuals may not prefer it. With Foundation, it is easier to create results that are unique and individualized.
It is easy to see that there is no definite answer to the question of ‘which one is better – Bootstrap or Foundation?’ Each come with their benefits and drawbacks, and the choice finally depends on personal preferences. If one favors a large theme collection, they could go for Bootstrap. If one favors rems over pixels, they should probably choose Foundation. If support for Internet Explorer 8 is a priority, it is better to go for Bootstrap. If designing for mobile first is one’s top priority, it might be better to go for Foundation. If community support is a priority, along with more choices in the department of widgets and plugins, it would be better to stick with Bootstrap. As you can see, it is all about what one is comfortable working with, and their personal preferences.