Both are feature-rich front end frameworks. Both are powerful. And both streamlines the UI design process. If you are a passionate UI designer looking for a responsive and reliable front-end framework, you may have heard of both. If you have heard about the two most popular frameworks around at present, then you will be confused as well about which one to choose.
Though each one has its own advantages and disadvantages, your choice will be ultimately based on your requirements as well as your familiarity with the code.
Before we begin, here is a quick intro:
- Originally an internal style guide
- Conceived by ZURB design agency in 2008
- Release in the fall of 2011
- Started out as an internal style guide in 2010
- Brainchild of former Twitter employees Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton
- Released in 2011
What they have in common
- Both of them are open source frameworks
- Both are responsive, meaning the developed web app or website can run in mobile or desktop devices regardless of the screen size
- Grid system to make easier layouts of websites or web apps
- Pre-styled CSS components
And now for the differences…
Foundation and Bootstrap comes with Sass (Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets) support which means customization will be a walk in the park. However, when it comes to flexibility in customization, Foundation has no equal. While Bootstrap provides pre-build components for the UI design (your app or website goes up and running in no time), Foundation gives you the room and the features to design your own unique designs. With Bootstrap, you are going to have to make do with the pre-existing designs and themes that bear the closest resemblance to the design you have in mind.
Both Foundation and Bootstrap comes with gratifying browser support, in both mobile and desktop devices: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Edge – you name it, they support it. However, the older Internet Explorer 8 is not supported by Bootstrap version 4 and higher, and the stable releases of Foundation.
Putting it in a nutshell here – both frameworks are good at what they do. The performance benchmarks indicate that there is only a negligible difference in the performance of both Bootstrap and Foundation. But if you consider the features to measure performance, the differences will be more apparent.
The Grid system
In the beginning, Foundation had one big advantage over Bootstrap – the grid system. But recently, Bootstrap caught up to Foundation deciding to go ‘the grid system’ way, taking out the only critical difference between the frameworks. The grid system lets designers lay out the building blocks of UI, fool around with the components, and come up with some unique layout in the end. Though both the frameworks feature the grid, Foundation still has a couple of grid features to boast about that Bootstrap doesn’t have. The workaround with Bootstrap is using custom codes to get the same functionality of those grid features Foundation possesses.
When it comes to community, Bootstrap has the bigger gun. With the largest online community for a front-end framework, the designers get access to a plethora of custom themes and templates. Besides, the larger the community, the easier it is to find solutions for technical issues. However, Foundation isn’t that far behind. Though comparatively smaller, the Foundation community keeps growing consistently. It’s large enough for developers to get adequate technical support.
Which one triumphs over the other?
Now that’s something which ultimately comes down to the personal preferences of the designer. Because neither framework is going to disappoint the designers despite their relative strengths and vulnerabilities. While you can bet on Foundation for its ‘Mobile-first’ responsiveness, Bootstrap is the way to go if you are going to be relying on community support often.
The scale tilts slightly in favor of Bootstrap because of its grid system, speed and stability. Foundation offers more flexibility, and will quite likely catch up to Bootstrap soon with a couple of updates.