All posts tagged bootstrap


If you’ve spent any time looking at the Bootstrap docs you’ll notice their nav bar on the right.  Very slick example of both Scrollspy and Affix.  I have written blog posts about both of these topics in conjunction with each other titled Bootstrap ScrollSpy Pitfalls and Fixes.  In my example I use a very simple styling for my nav using nav-pills.  This works out alright but what if we want to get exactly what Bootstrap is doing?  Well, let’s figure out just how they do it.

They are using very similar code to what I had in the pitfalls and tricks post so I’ll bring that in here.

Now that we have a simple navigation let’s style it to have sub menus not be shown until the item is in view of the user, just like Bootstrap.

We’ve added some sub menu items to a few of the nav elements.  At this point if you were to render the page it would show all of the items in the list regardless of it being a sub menu or not.  We want to change that so we only see specific sub menus when they are active.  To do this we just need to add a little bit of CSS that will trigger the display of the sub menus.  When the menu item is not active the sub menus are hidden.  When the menu item is activated it displays the sub menus below.

That’s all there is to it! No tricky JavaScript required, it’s all CSS.   Now just adjust the padding, change the color, and add sub menus to your heart’s content.  You now have a side nav that looks and acts just like Bootstrap’s does in their docs.

One of the most commonly used features of Bootstrap is their Modal component.  If you don’t know what a modal is it is like a pop up except it can contain HTML.  This means you can put any sort of information you’d like in it, a common example is a modal that contains a login form.  This post will show you how to create your own modals and even load in the content dynamically using AJAX.

Modal Basics

Let’s start with the most basic modal that contains static content.  You’ll need two things.  The first is a button or link to trigger the modal.  Secondly, you’ll need to put the modal div somewhere on your page.  Below is some example code with the button and the modal div.

This code was taken from Bootstrap’s example for modals.  Let’s break it down a bit starting with the button.  You’ll see that the button is styled with some standard Bootstrap classes to make it large and blue.  After that you’ll notice two HTML5 data tags, data-toggle and data-target.  Bootstrap uses these to know that you are planning on using this to open a modal and with content in the id contained in data-target.

Our modal div is labeled with the id of the data-target from the button.  In that .modal there are a lot of other elements listed in their example.  The class .modal makes Bootstrap know this is a modal and .fade refers to how the animation will work when it needs to be shown.  The tabindex is set to -1 to avoid any unforeseen issues with tabbing through your page.  The next three are for accessibility purposes like screen readers and can be omitted if you are not supporting screen reading technologies.

The modal is broken down into sections represented as various divs.  Each div needs to have a corresponding modal class to ensure that Bootstrap can display it correctly.  It is a good idea to have all of these divs in place even if you don’t put content in all of them.  The first is the .modal-dialog.  This is where everything that is the modal will be contained.  The next div is .modal-content.  This is where all of your content like text and buttons will eventually be placed.  There are three sections to a modal, the header, the body, and the footer.  They are labeled with the classes .modal-header, .modal-body, and .modal-footer.

bootstrap modal

The .modal-header is where you place your title and close button.  You’ll notice in the example that the button in the .modal-header contains an HTML5 data element called data-dismiss=”modal”.  This tells Bootstrap to close the modal when this button is clicked.

Inside of the .modal-body is where you’ll place your form and whatever other content you need.  Essentially this acts just like a smaller web page.  You can use all of the Bootstrap formatting and styling and place any JavaScript and content you’d like in here.  Later we will see how to put dynamically loaded content in here.

Finally, there is the .modal-footer.  Most of the time you’ll put another close button down here because a lot of users are used to having both an ‘x’ in the upper right corner and a close button at the bottom.  You can also put any text or maybe a Submit button for your form in here as well.

Loading Content with AJAX

Sometimes you’ll want to load in the content of the modal using AJAX.  There are a couple of ways to do this but using jQuery but here we will use the Bootstrap data elements to make Bootstrap do the leg work for us.  Taking the above example we just need to make a few minor changes.


Changing the button to an a tag allows us to give a URL in the href parameter.  Bootstrap interprets this as the content to be loaded and the data-target to be where the content is to be loaded.


You’ll notice that I’ve moved everything except the .modal to a separate page. From our testing and experience this was the most consistent way to load content into the modal without any weird CSS or loading issues.

That’s all there is to it.  Modals are powerful and wonderful.  Gathering information from the user or displaying a small bit of information without making the user leave the page is a wonderful thing to add to any webpage.  Let me know how you are using modals below in the comments.
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One of the biggest features of Bootstrap is their responsive grid.  It helps developers and designers easily space out content on a page without having to worry about margins and screen sizes.  I’ve done some posts in the past talking about the best way to use the various screen size related tags.  Today I wanted to focus on taking all of that to the next level.  The grid system works at every level as far down as you want to go.  Below is a catalog I created which quickly informs of a moisture test.  There is a lot of information to display and doing so in a clean format is hard.  Using Bootstrap’s grid system at every step has helped to create what you see below.


This is the final result that we will be breaking down.  You can see that there is a test number on the left without anything underneath it, a larger section with text followed by smaller sections and even a table.  Let’s break down every layer and div.


The outer div of the entire thing is given the class row.  The row class keeps everything tight to the 12-column Bootstrap design and doesn’t let things roll over unexpectedly.  If you forcefully go over the 12-columns it will obviously bump it but sticking the row class on an outer div will help keep everything together.  This is also useful for printing as I don’t want a row to ever be cut between two pages.  You can either add @media print{ .row{page-break-inside:avoid; } or give that outer div an extra class that you give the CSS to so that it won’t split between two pages.


Here you see how I did the test number on the left with nothing underneath while having a lot of content on the right.  I give one column to the number and eleven to the content.


Looking inside of the larger div there is a lot more going on.  To start off with I use header tags which give breaks after each header and then a <p> tag around the description.  After that I create a brand new row, yup a row within a row (rowception! OK, I’ll stop), which holds even more information that we will break down next.  Last we have a simple header and table.  This table does not have a normal thead/tbody since I put the th tags and td tags on the same line.  To have consistent spacing on th/td cells across all tables I have added the CSS table { table-layout: fixed;}.


The final piece goes even deeper as we have already been dissecting a row let’s break apart this new row.  Still using the twelve column system of Bootstrap I have given every column a spacing of 2 except the last one which is size 4 with an offset of two.  Notice how using the row on the outside gives us a fresh twelve column grid to work within inside of an already created component.  Inside of each of those grid elements you can add whatever you’d like, including more rows!  The first and second contain unformatted lists, the third is a paragraph, and the fourth contains a Bootstrap alert.

That’s all there is to it!  Bootstrap gives you everything you need to create perfectly spaced content at every level on the page.  If twelve columns isn’t right for you they even allow you to customize how big you want your columns.  I hope this was informative and demonstrated how to use Bootstrap above and beyond their simple examples on their page.  If you have any great tips when using Bootstrap please leave a comment below.

One of the biggest things I’ve run into with Bootstrap are their tables which are dynamic and grow and shrink depending on content size.  For the most part this is completely desired.  Every now and then you want a bit more control over your table column widths.  This is a very simple trick that I wanted to document for those who have run into the problem of wanting more control than Bootstrap gives initially.

Say you’ve created your table as shown below.

Let’s say once you render this table the description for the test is way too big and is pushing the other columns away and making them smaller than you think they should be.  The quickest way to fix this is to simply give column sizes to your table headers.  Whatever the width of your table headers your table data will conform to that size.  Knowing this we can alter the above example to make description take up less space and give a little bit more to other columns.

Super simple.  Works great.  Give it a try.  The biggest request I’ve had, that I have yet to find an answer for, is how to stop the overflow for a table data and show ellipsis instead using Bootstrap.  It’s a simple enough procedure in HTML but Bootstrap is doing something else that doesn’t allow the overflow.  If anyone knows how to keep a table data on one line and have it show ellipsis please leave a comment.

Bootstrap comes with a lot of different JavaScript tools to make your website more user friendly.  Today I’m going to cover Tabs and then give a more advanced example for making your tabs have dynamic content using AJAX.  We all know what tabs look like and in a website they can be very useful to group similar content without having to create a new page for each chunk of data.  Below is an example of the basic Bootstrap tabs.

You’ll notice that there are two sections to the tabs. The first is the nav-bar ul. This is where you give each tab a title. You can even do drop downs here because they are normal Bootstrap nav items.  That’s all there is to the basic Bootstrap tabs.  They work wonders and you can see the live demo on their site here.

To make each tab load in data via AJAX you’ll need to tap into Bootstrap’s triggers.  Here’s what I did using the same example as above and the JQuery below.

The trigger is fired when the tab is changed and the is the event target, or in our case the newly activated tab.  Since the tab’s href points to the id of the element we want to change data we can use that to point our data to when it comes.  I’ve added a check to make sure we are only making the AJAX call if that tab is empty to help on load times of large data sets but you can remove that if you’d like.

That’s all there is to it.  Nothing too difficult but useful when you need tabs and need to change that data without reloading the page.  Let me know how you are using tabs below in the comments.


There’s just something about having a map of an address that is appealing to people.  Why just list the address like a mailing label when you can place a nice marker on an interactive Google Map?  That’s what I thought too when I was adding content to our customer profiles.  I’d never done this before but knew that Google has a great API for accessing their data as well as some pretty good examples to follow.  The API covers how to use Google Maps on any device but for the purposes of this post I will be focusing solely on web.

Let’s go over some ground rules for using Google Maps API and then move on to a very simple example and build upon it slightly.  To start off with, you can only make a limited number of requests to Google for maps data before you have to start paying.  For a small company or webpage this limit will not be a problem.

For-profit web sites are permitted to generate up to 25 000 map loads per day using the Google Maps JavaScript API v3. A map load is counted when a map is initialized on a web page. User interaction with a map after it has loaded (eg. panning the map, zooming the map, or changing from roadmap to satellite map) does not have any impact on usage limits.

That’s a lot of requests, 25,000, and I know I won’t ever get to that point but if you do Google’s got your back.  Say one day your site becomes an overnight success.  You’re serving tons of traffic and your host is demanding money for the increased CPU usage and storage and you have complaints piling up about site downtimes and slow server times the last thing you want is one more person, Google, coming to complain to you.

In order to ensure that sites which experience short term spikes in usage are not adversely affected by the Maps API usage limits, only sites that exceed the limits for more than 90 consecutive days are subject to the limits.

Nice.  Thanks Google.  After that you better apply for a Google Maps API Business License or purchase additional quota or deal with your high traffic problem and make it go away.  Now, onto our map example.  Google uses straight vanilla JavaScript and in my later example I change a few things to leverage JQuery.

Simple Map


This is the example given by Google and it is fairly straight forward.  We have some basic HTML5 page with a map-canvas div.  Since div’s have an initial height of 0 the style is set to give it a height.  I had some issues when I tried this exact code and needed to modify it to use specific pixel height.  The specific pixel height is nice because it gives you straight control over how tall it will be.  Applying this with Bootstrap columns will give you a nice width and in my case a widescreen looking map.

The map has a number of options shown above.  Zoom is how zoomed in the map is, the higher the number the closer you are.  Center tells the map where to be centered and uses latitude and longitude, this can be changed dynamically and is what I will show in a second.  MapTypeId refers to the type of map and you can do ROADMAP, SATTELITE, HYBRID, or TERRAIN.  After that we create the map in the DOM and add it to our div.  That’s it!  Now this map is kind of simple and boring, right?  It only shows a specific location, no markers, and is hard-coded.  Let’s change a bit of that and make, still a basic map, but a geolocating map.

I wanted to create a map that would update to the address of the customer.  I have the address on the screen I was just going to pull it and make a request to Google to center the map on that location and place a marker.  Simple enough.

Simple Geolocating Map




I have used a little bit of JQuery to get the text from my address section and a little bit of Bootstrap to make everything look nice.  I also set the map-canvas to have a height of 150px, but that was personal preference.  It does need a height though or you will not see it.  Going through the JavaScript, I have set an initial starting location as well as set the zoom all the way out.  If the address is not found I want to just show a map of the world.  Create the map and then we need to geolocate the customer’s address.  Using Google’s geocoder this is easy because they have a variable named address and you can enter anything in there that you would normally enter into a Google Map’s search bar.  I simply grab all of the address, including the customer name, and go for the search.  If Google returns with an OK response we focus the map on that location, zoom in a bit, and add a marker to look nice.  I also created a URL to link to Google maps itself when the marker is clicked.  This was a request from some users that wanted to go to a larger map.

I also added a button that lets the user change the address if the customer is not found.  Google will make the attempt and if they can’t find it we let the user know that that address may be invalid and to check on it.  If it is right then they can just ignore this problem or report it to Google with the link at the bottom right of the map.

That’s it.  There are a lot of different things you can do with the Google Maps API including directions, custom markers, adding more markers, etc.  Take a look at all of the API documentation if you have further needs.  For us this was sufficient and a lot of people like it even if it is just a visually pleasing item and no one will actually use.  Comment below on how you are using the Maps API or if you have any questions on what I’ve done here.

UPDATE:  If you’d like to read more about Bootstrap compatability with Google Maps check out their Third party support page.

Bootstrap 3 Released

Just a quick note for everyone, Bootstrap has officially released version 3.0.0 as of Monday.  If you have been following along with the blog so far you’ll already be familiar with the major changes to Bootstrap.  This final release fixes a lot of those bugs that I’ve brought up here.  It is now stable and ready for production.  The biggest complaint I’ve seen from people is the move to the flat theme by default where the 2.3.2 version was polished and looked nice.  The good news is that Bootstrap allows you to use the new version with the old look, problem solved!  We are going to continue with the flat look because we like it but it’s totally up to you how you use Bootstrap.  Full release notes here.  Good luck!