Ever felt like you were fighting against your tools, rather than putting them to work for you?
The Bootstrap framework was created to reduce the barrier between designers and developers, making website design accessible with only a minimum of technical knowledge. Its rapid, open-source development has grown its capabilities dramatically over the past four years, and multitude of resources out there can be intimidating.
Do you work in the code, or prefer visual tools? Different modules and plugins spliced together, or a single editor to handle everything consistently? There are as many styles and approaches to Bootstrap development as there are tools and variations on plugins, so it’s understandable designers may suffer from decision paralysis.
We’re here to help with a list of 7 great Bootstrap tools covering everything from individual elements to feature-complete editors. All of them are ultra-fast and easy to use, so stop pulling your hair out in frustration, take a few minutes and check them out.
1. Twitter Bootstrap Button Generator
Need a few buttons? This elegant, intuitive editor by Plugo Labs makes it a breeze to generate the basic inputs for any kind of project. With choices for color, type, size and more, you’ll be able to get those HTML snippets in your code in no time; they make for great starting points for your own variations, and solid options in their own right.
TWBSColor Bootstrap navbars is another simple editor that’s great for kicking off the navigation on your new site. After working out the color scheme you like, just include the Bootstrap assets you need and copy out the stylesheet (available in 4 languages) into your own project — you’re good to go! If you like this one, be sure to check out Samuel Marchal’s other Bootstrap tools, like this expanding button editor.
3. Bootstrap Grid Builder
Bootstrap Grid Builder offers a no-frills approach at quick visual editing for any kind of grid-like layout you need. Just work out the columns and rows you want, tweak their spans and offsets, and extract the HTML over on the top left corner. When you’re neck-deep in wireframes and arrangements, this is an excellent way to visualize options. It may not be too pretty, but it definitely gets the job done.
Bootbox.js handles modal alerts like a champ, which means you don’t have to rely on browser alerts for all your dialog boxes. As the creators point out, you’re able to replace 38 lines of code with a single Bootbox event for a simple pop-up — sweet deal. This kind of encapsulated modularity is one of the best parts of using Bootstrap, so go nuts with it!
MooTools is a collection of Bootstrap plugins that cover all the basics: dropdowns, tooltips, popovers, tabs and more. You’ll also find great alternatives to elements covered by other tools in this list. Since they’re all guaranteed to play nice together, feel free to use them in any combination you like! Just be sure to read through the documentation, since MooTools uses different data tags from Bootstrap’s native implementation. Thankfully, the provided examples are clear and plentiful.
Whether you’re just starting to dive into the world of Bootstrap or are trying to optimize your processes, the tools above are sure to help you become a cleaner, faster and tighter designer. It’s always a good time to brush up on the framework too. From rapid prototype iteration to elegant and robust final products, the friction between design and development has never been lower, especially with the latest stable and alpha releases.
When you’re ready for even more options, get comfortable and browse through this massive list of over 300 Bootstrap resources. The open source nature of the framework’s development means solutions pop up every day as new needs arise, so keep checking often — or develop your own!
I’d love to hear how you’re using these tools or if you have any others to share. Feel free to share them in the comments!