The Pitfalls of Twitter Bootstrap

I see the Twitter Bootstrap framework being used more and more by developers and I am still struggling to understand how it can be accepted as a full and robust solution that can be released as production ready.

From a general overview, it is a framework for developers who don’t know how to build a modular, re-usable and scalable front end solution, and use it as an easy way out. It seems to be a good way for back end developers with limited front end knowledge to create a reasonable looking UI. There are some useful elements, but from my view point are only really acceptable for MVP (minimal viable product) work as a certain degree of hacking at the frame work is required to customize it for a required purpose.

Below are some of the benefits that developers find useful:

• Quickly create a layout (fixed, fluid and responsive)

• Quickly create a form

• Everything immediately in the same style

• Working grid system

• Tables

• Buttons

Lets have a look at some of the pitfalls in a bit more detail.

It doesn’t follow best practices

One of the major issues I have with Twitter Bootstrap is that you end up with a lot of DOM elements full of needless classes. This usually means that the presentation is no longer separate from the content. Many front end developers will find this irritating, as it makes scalability, reusability and maintenance more of a challenge than it should be. Twitter Bootstrap also creates problems with progressive enhancement, as presentation and interaction are no longer independent of content.

It’s conflicts with existing site code

If you’ve been thrown into a big project and want to implement the ‘so called’ benefits that Twitter Bootstrap provides, there are a lot of problems here. Conflicts with generated HTML, CSS and JavaScript are the first thing. Then the resources, you now have to go through that big monster of a project and work out which scripts and styles need to be removed or replaced. Twitter Bootstrap could potentially create extra work as you go through the project finding and fixing weird bugs, which you could argue defeats the purpose of using it in the first place.

It is heavy

Straight out of the box, Twitter Bootstrap includes CSS weighing 126kb and 29kb of JavaScript. If you do want to use all of the functionality that Twitter Bootstrap brings, you should have a good think about loading times. Twitter Bootstrap can possibly help you to build an attractive, responsive website, but some mobile users could be become frustrated by the slow loading time and battery-draining scripting.

No SASS support

Another point of contention, and definitely an issue that puts me off using Bootstrap is the that it’s built with Less and provides no native support for Compass and SASS. Less is okay and it certainly has it’s advantages. But SASS is just better!, and with a framework like Compass on top, it is a complete no-brainer to use it. The are some solutions out there, but straight out of the box, you’ll have to make do with Less.

My website looks like everyone else’s!

Twitter Bootstrap is growing in popularity all the time, and this means that the world and his wife will be using it. While it is possible to customise your design further, you may find time constraints force you to stick to a lot of the out of the box Bootstrap style. This can lead to the creation of a lot of similar, generic and unmemorable websites. While Twitter Bootstrap is fast and easy to implement, creativity is often compromised as a result. Creative designs, which defy conventions, can be difficult to implement in Bootstrap’s structured environment.

Other disadvantages of using Bootstrap

Bootstrap.js

A lot of users have complained about bootstrap.js and how it does not use semi-colons. This can cause issues when using aggregation and compression tools such as JSMin and RequireJS. Using semi-colons is not part of JS standards but in my view it is better practice to use them mainly due to the inconvenience it can cause and can make modifying the source code a more difficult task than it should be.

Visitors don’t take your website seriously

Some of the more skeptical and cautious users of the Internet may question the legitimacy of a site using the default Bootstrap style. By not taking the time to customise styles, some users may start to perceive Bootstrap sites as untrustworthy.

Bootstrap doesn’t work with JavaScript disabled

Like most web tools on the Internet, Bootstrap doesn’t provide fall-backs for users without JavaScript. It just means that you’ll have to provide your own fall-back if you do want that support. As around 1-2% of worldwide users of the web have JavaScript disabled, it is definitely something to take into consideration.

Overall, Twitter Bootstrap is good to get something up and running quickly, with minimal front end development knowledge and is acceptable for MVP work that is not released as production quality. However, it can become very easy to shoot yourself in the foot, by thinking you are getting something for nothing, only to find out later down the line that it causes more work or hacks are required to customise it to your needs.

Explaining HTML Color Codes – Simply

I recently received one of my regular SEO newsletters. The topic this time was understanding HTML color codes. But it skipped so many areas, that I’m sure many readers would have been lost.

So I’ve decided to try explaining this topic as simply as possible.

I’ll split this tutorial into 3 parts:

1) understanding decimal color codes

2) understanding hexadecimal

3) using hexadecimal in color codes

PART 1:

Its probably useful to start with monochrome TV / computer screens: The screen is made up of lots of dots, in a grid pattern, so that you get hundreds of dots horizontally and vertically. Computer guys call them pixels, but for the non-technical people, I’ll call them dots.

Now, you can choose the brightness of each dot: no brightness = black, full brightness = white, a level in-between = a level of grey.

To make things easy, we can use numbers to indicate how bright to make the dot. 0 = black, 255 = white, 128 = mid-grey, etc.

We could use a number range of 0 – 99, or 1 – 100, but 0 – 255 has a special meaning to computers, so we need to use 0 – 255.

So how does color work?

Well, imagine that instead of a dot, you actually have 3 mini-dots. The 3 mini-dots are colored: Red, Green, Blue (RGB).

Why use these particular colors?

Its like an optical illusion. When these 3 mini-dots are close enough together, and at full brightness, the human eye is fooled into thinking it sees white. Now, by changing the brightness of the 3 mini-dots, you can get virtually every color you need.

So, to represent colors using numbers, we need to use 3 numbers for each dot (ie a number for each mini-dot). The order is important: the first number is for red, the second is green, the third is blue.

So, to represent black, we use: 0,0,0 (ie all mini-dots have no brightness).

255,255,255 = white (each mini dot is at full brightness, and your eye is tricked into seeing white)

128,128,128 = mid grey

255,0,0 = solid red (the red mini-dot is at full brightness, but green and blue have no brightness)

similarly:

0,255,0 = solid green

0,0,255 = solid blue

Other simple colors: 128,0,0 = dull red, 64,0,0 = very dark red (almost black)…

Now, mixing colors gets interesting:

255,255,0 = yellow, 0,255,255 = cyan (light blue), 255,0,255 = Magenta (light purple), 255,128,0 = Orange, 128,128,0 = brown, 128,0,128 = purple, 255,200,255 = pink

Most paint programs (even microsoft paint) will let you experiment with these color triplets. Go have some fun with colors

PART 2:

This is probably the most difficult computer concept to explain. Think back to your very early days at primary school. The teacher would have told you that there are only ten symbols for writing numbers: 0123456789. So while counting, you can only get as far as 9, then you run out of symbols.

But a very bright person, discovered a great way to count beyond this: the tens “column” (as well as the hundreds, thousands, etc columns). So the number in the tens column represents “groups of ten”. Thus the number 423 means: 4 groups of hundred, plus 2 groups of ten, plus 3.

Computers represent numbers very differently to us. They use a system called binary… but we will use hexadecimal, because it is very simple and quick to translate between binary and hex.

Now, we can interact with computers (using numbers) in 2 ways:

– We use decimal, and the computer converts decimal numbers into binary (easy for us, but can slow down the computer)

– We use hex, and the computer converts to binary (difficult for us, but the computer converts hex to binary MUCH faster than decimal to binary)

So what is hex? Well, instead of having only ten symbols to represent numbers, we use sixteen symbols: 0123456789ABCDEF.

Now, we can count from 0 to “F”, and after that we start using the “tens” column (technically, it should probably be called a sixteens column). Thus after F, we have 10, and if we keep counting, we get: 11, 12, 13, … 19, 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, 1F, 20, … 29, 2A, … 2F, 30, …3F, etc.

One question that often comes up is, what happens after 9F? Why A0 of course, followed by: A1, A2, … A9, AA, AB, … AF, B0, B1, … BF, C0, etc. all the way up to FF.

After that, you can go to 100, 101, 102, … 10F, 110, 111, etc.

To get over the initial learning curve, many people use translation tables (or calculators), so that when they see F, they can figure out it actually means fifteen.

So that we don’t get confused between decimal and hex, hex numbers usually have a # symbol in front, so #10 is actually 16 Decimal., and #FF is actually 255.

PART 3:

Now we can combine part 1 and part 2. Colors can be represented using hex values from #00 – #FF (ie 0 – 255).

To represent black, we have: #000000 (ie 00, 00, 00 : we put a zero in the tens column to keep the overall length the same)

#FFFFFF = white (255,255,255)

#808080 = mid grey (#80 = 128)

#00FF00 = solid green

So thats it. Its a long explanation, but just about anyone should be able to read it and understand it, and you will be on your way to creating colorful web pages.

Kitchen Lighting – Everything You Want To Know About Them

The scale of activity that takes place in the kitchen makes it an important place where use of effective practical and also decorative lighting is a must. Some things to look at;

Some questions to ask before you start lighting your kitchen

First and foremost question you need to ask while design your kitchen lighting is how much you are ready to spend. After all the light fixtures do cost something – and this are not only the wires and switches but also the type of light fixtures, shades and bulbs. Next question that should come in your mind is whether you have a kitchen lighting plan. A good plan will surely blend lighting into the architectural and decorative details of the room. A plan will help you out it investing wisely into kitchen lighting needs. If you want to go for a gradual lighting design process seeing you don’t have enough budget say for example for a series of pendants over the center island or a glass chandelier at least install enough junction boxes The fixtures can then be purchased at a later date and easily added to the kitchen lighting needs. After determining the budget and a plan, you need to think about the space area of your kitchen. This is important in determining the amount of lighting required and in which areas of the kitchen need specific lighting. One also needs to consider whether the room apart from needing single central light, how many other multiple lighting options may be needed. This is determined by the area or space of the room, all the activities that are place in the kitchen and are important, as well as the placement of all interior objects such as the cooking range, counter top and the kitchen-cum-dining table if present. For example, small kitchens may require only a central ceiling pendant light and some recessed task lighting tucked under a cabinet. More elaborate kitchens will demand a blend of general, task and accent lighting.

Know the types of Kitchen lighting

Lighting a kitchen is a different ball game compare to lighting other rooms in your house since no single light source can provide all the necessary kitchen lighting needs. It is very important to know that good kitchen lighting is not only considered from an aesthetic standpoint, but also from a functional standpoint. This will allow us to make sure that we incorporate different types of lighting and nowadays techno paced LED lights to fulfill the various levels of Kitchen activities. This is commonly referred to as layering of lights which instead of single lighting, demands a blend of three to four varied types of lighting. To meet these demand of layered lighting, there are basically four types of lighting that meet up the mark;

Task Lighting or Chore Lighting: It illuminates the most functional and practical part of your kitchen by providing adequate lighting for kitchen core tasks like chopping vegetables, cooking food and yes, reading recipes. Most of the accidents which occur in kitchen are mostly due to this tasks and proper task lighting design can really prevent them. Task areas should have sufficient light so you can easily see what you’re working on without too much brightness or eye-straining dimness. The main thing to remember here is most of the time task lighting instead of brightening up a task area, shadows it. For this to not take place, task lights is best placed between the actual work place and your head which makes lighting located say below the upper cabinets very helpful. For example, task lighting is placed over the sink, gas cooker and food preparation area, where close work is done regularly. Most of task lighting is achieved by using conventional recessed lights that assure even illumination, surface lights or table tops lights. Remember that each task lights if possible should have its own switch and honestly you will be pleased with the result. Considering the types of bulbs for task lighting then halogen and CFL (in energy efficient bulbs category) being bright and shadow less with large surface area are best to go for. It electrifies the look of granite and marble counter tops and it even let you enjoy your food cooking task, seriously.

Ambient or Glow or Indirect Lighting: This type of lighting lends a pleasant glow to your kitchen, thus giving a warm welcome to the people entering into the kitchen. It plays a major role in softening unwanted shadows, reducing kitchen room contrast and lighting vertical surfaces to give the space a brighter feel. It is generally observed that out of the four types of lighting, ambient is most often overlooked. In fact, the most dramatic and soft look you can achieve in a kitchen is by blending indirect lighting with other types of lighting. It is often created by hiding the light source from view where it bounces off a ceiling or a wall and produces a warm glow that adds enormous amounts of ambiance if done correctly. Best places for ambient lights can be hidden on top of wall cabinets if the ceiling is bit high or they can be installed in layered ceiling areas that surround the entire kitchen space. In case your kitchen has light colored surfaces and lots of windows then you can desire to have plenty of natural ambient light during the day. CFL based lights tubes (light link) are well suited to the job of providing ambient light.

Accent or Prominent lighting: This type of lighting gives a depth and dimension to your kitchen. It helps you to display your most decorative items in your kitchen like a fancy glassware or tableware, stylish luxury cutlery sets, beautiful canvas art prints or may be your nicely prepared food. For example lighting fixtures can be placed inside glass-front cabinets to illuminate glassware, and other collections as well as recessed, adjustable low-voltage fixtures used to spotlight canvas art prints. You can put to use spotlights to illuminate your cooked food which will also help it remain hot for longer period of time.

Decorative or ornamental lighting: This type of lighting is basically used for adding sparkling effects to the kitchen that can be envious to your neighbours. It can be further helpful to look at this type of lighting especially if kitchen is also used as the dining area of the house. Nowadays due to wide range of lights available, you can opt for decorative lights which can be functional also. For example, many functional lighting fixtures come in a number of finishes like wrought iron, rust, nickel which will provides an aesthetic feel to your kitchen. Painted finishes are also popular along with catchy colored glass bypasses plain white. You can also consider a decorative fixture with three or more lights. Like a trio over an island provides good light since it breaks up the kitchen into decorative module areas but you can still see through it. Some other decorative lighting ideas could be like dinner table space is illuminated with a decorative candelabra-style fixture, which provides ambient light during meals.

Finally some tips and common mistakes to avoid

No matter how many lights you install in your kitchen, it is recommended to circuit them separately so the lighting is zoned. This allows you to create ambience by mixing the various lights which is turned on.

If possible even while you shop online, take a picture of your kitchen or at least know your kitchen dimensions. How tall is the ceiling? How much space is there between the cabinets and the ceiling? How much space is there between the cabinets and the countertop? To make sure you cook up the best lighting scheme for your kitchen, use some free advice from light shop professional. The best thing is to do some window shopping before the actual purchase.

You might have found the perfect light fixture, but we can’t forget the equally important light bulbs. To make the most of your lighting, try using bulbs with different beam spreads for different effects. Flood lights are great for creating widespread lighting like a on central ceiling, while spotlights are ideal for shedding light on specific areas like for accent lighting.

No matter how many types of lighting or fixtures you install, use lights of the same color for all the kitchen lighting

If you are spending the money on nice cabinets or a dinner table in the kitchen, for example, you want to make sure they are lit properly. If not, the light actually creates gray shadow areas. If you have deep cabinets in dark corners, you might even want to consider installing lights inside them so you can see what’s hiding in the back

When it comes to kitchen lighting, the most common mistake is trying to light the entire room with one ceiling-mounted fixture. The result ends up visually overpowering everything in the kitchen space. Recessed lighting, if installed in a generic grid, isn’t much better. A lot of people do it incorrectly, and they’ll end up with too much light in some areas and shadows everywhere else

On the other end, another common mistake we all do is over-lighting and result is, the kitchen gets too hot. The goal here is to have moderate, even lighting and more importantly blends of different lightings. For example, you just can’t keep on adding recessed lights for the sake of visual look, instead of mixing various lighting types.

We at in trying to make your better homes gardens really hope the above provided information will help you to make a sound decision on your kitchen lighting design and let you enjoy your food more. So when are you inviting us over a meal!!

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