Matt Felten

An Angry Rant about Front-end Frameworks and Design Systems

March 5, 2018

“Let’s just use Bootstrap.” I’ve heard that statement more times in the past five years than I can count. “Let’s analyze the differences between Bootstrap, Foundation, and Material design to see what is the best for us to use.” Shoot me. “Have you used used insert whatever new framework yet? It’s pretty cool and would be pretty easy to implement.” 👋 Later

Let me say this. Frameworks are great if you’re hacking on a side project or prototyping a new feature for testing. You can get started super fast. Do it. If don’t have designers on your team, use Bootstrap. Your company or project obviously doesn’t care about standing out visually against competitors. Move fast.

From here on, I’ll use design system to mean a custom front-end framework. It’s more than that but that’s a larger topic. I’ll also use Bootstrap as a scapegoat for all frameworks. Replace with your favorite. It still works.

“Why should we create our own design system?”

Because you want to own your look and feel. Users decide the quality of your website or app within the first half-second of viewing it. If you’re ok looking unmemorable, fine, but any designer you work with will not allow that.

Plus searching Stack Overflow for stupid Bootstrap bugs suck. Welcome to Garbage Code World.

“Can’t we just reskin Bootstrap?”

Sure if you want to add hacky code on top of bloated code. That’s like wanting pizza but getting a burger, so you pour sauce, cheese and pepperoni on top of the damn burger. It’s gonna be hard to eat and taste ridiculous.

“It will be easier to on-board new developers with Bootstrap”

True. Did you learn React in the last few years like everyone else? Cool. So you, and any decent developer, can learn new tools. Don’t make your system stupid and it’ll be fine.

To be continued…

Matt Felten