How to Use Bootstrap with A CDN (Speed Up Your Website)
Bootstrap began as a simple open-source web design toolkit used to create super-clean pages that adhered to a strict grid system. It later became one of the most popular frontend libraries out there. There is so much to like about Bootstrap, starting from its simplicity to its documentation and community. However, there is no escaping the fact that it’s also another dependency that is best served through a CDN for website performance.
What Is A CDN And How Does It Work with Bootstrap?
CDN stands for content delivery network in full and is essentially a specialized cloud hosting service consisting of distributed servers. CDNs are designed to deliver internet content at fast speeds and also ensure that it is always available regardless of the load, number of requests or where your visitors are accessing it from. CDNs became popular in the last decade due to their ability to provide reliable DDoS protection.
There are several types of CDNS, with some designed to speed up content delivery and others providing security. However, in the case of Bootstrap and other libraries, our primary interest is on general purposes CDNs that host different types of libraries for millions of websites around the world.
Bootstrap is a free front-end design toolkit that you can use to design your web interfaces however you like. Some of the design resource you can find in Bootstrap include:
- Sass variables
- A responsive and easy to implement grid system- Bootstrap’s design philosophy resembles what you see on Twitter.
- Prebuilt web components- These will save you a lot of time when designing your frontend elements. For instance, there are prebuilt button styles, links, headers, icons, themes and text components ready to be used with a single line of code.
Hosting Bootstrap Locally (Disadvantages)
You can choose to download the entire library and upload it to your webserver. This way you will point your CSS reference to the locally stored library and use its ready-made CSS functions and properties whenever you need to. However, doing this presents a number of challenges, among them:
Latency- Hosting the entire Bootstrap library on your web server will impact your website’s loading speeds. The latency will be more magnified if you are using shared hosting services or if you are on a limited capacity cloud server.
Space requirements- The entire bootstrap library may not be big but it does take some space on your server that could have been utilized for something else. It’s better to point to a CDN hosted Bootstrap image and save your server space for something else.
Cost- Are you using flexible cloud hosting or limited server space for your website? Why not shave a few dollars off your monthly bill by using CDN hosted libraries instead of hosting them yourself? You will be paying for every request for any of the assets in the libraries yet the same can be loaded for free from a common content delivery network.
Security- You may risk downloading an important library such as Bootstrap from the internet and uploading it on your server.
There are many other advantages to using a bootstrap js cdn such as caching, high availability. It has become best practice to utilize CDN-hosted libraries as much as possible as search engines start prioritizing fast-loading websites over slow ones. A slight gain in performance would definitely have some impact on your web rankings on Google so why not take advantage of the CDN?
Using Bootstrap with A CDN
Most developers prefer to use a CDN-hosted Bootstrap because of the reasons discussed above. Using a compiled copy of Bootstrap is as simple as adding the following code to your HTML header:
All in all, using Bootstrap with a CDN is probably the best thing you can do as far as website speed is concerned. You can also boost your page speed even more by putting your entire website on CDN.