Bootstrap and jQuery make me look good

By Greg Turnquist

Greg is a member of the Spring team, an author of several books on Spring Boot, conference speaker, and the lead for Spring Data JPA.

March 25, 2013

I recently was given a task that seemed kind of big for me. I had to generate a web site targeted for a certain with little time. I put off planned vacation time in order to meet this schedule.

Bottom line, I spit out the site, and to top it off, my co-workers were impressed with my work. I had picked three key technologies:

  • Grails
  • Twitter Bootstrap for styling
  • jQuery for incidental refinements
Grails was the ticket to rapidly building a web site that not only was easy to create, but had mature plugins like Spring Security, ability to map some URLs for customized REST points specified in the requirements, and easy ability to manage database evolutions. Grails also comes fully loaded with Spring which through its MailTemplate made it easy for me to build an email-driven registration system.
But Grails was just the beginning. I had been tinkering in my spare time with learning how Twitter’s Bootstrap layout library worked. It was fantastic and let me quickly build a professional looking site. I learned how to use the various classes to lay things out. Then on the input fields, I was able to easily tag required fields. Bootstrap provided convenient validation. I even marked up certain fields using the HTML5 “email” types, and Bootstrap would trap entries that didn’t have email fields and alert the user.
Finally, I needed to force users to scroll through a EULA, and that is where a bit of jQuery did the trick. I had jQuery only enable a checkbox when they scrolled to the bottom, and then clicking on the checkbox would in turn enable the submit button.
All of this may sound like Web Programming 101, but what you probably don’t realize is that for the past 10+ years, I have worked on thick client interfaces using Swing and other things. I am a real newbie when it comes to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript! But tools like these define a whole new style of programming. Based on what I’ve seen, today’s web programming paradigm isn’t the same as what it was five years ago.
That means I don’t need to catch up on how people built web pages 5-10 years ago. I need to learn what people are doing today. And tools like Grails, Bootstrap, and jQuery tell me that this is in my grasp. My fundamental skills as a programmer are still useful even in a paradigm I sidestepped for 10+ years.
Maybe some people would consider my web-based skills impure because I lean on these libraries too much. I admit I probably couldn’t build these things if I had to. But that doesn’t matter. When people were building up the web 15 years ago, they never imagined many of the standard things we use today. And what does it matter? If the site looks good and works, that’s what counts, right?
This makes me excited to work on the “next” website. These tools make it really fun. Even now I’m learning how to customize the look-and-feel of Bootstrap. I’ve already plugged in a custom font. After a bit, I might figure out how to customize the navbar. All good stuff.
Happy programming!


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