When I was growing up my parents always taught me the importance of being self-sufficient. One of these self-sufficiency skills I learned was how to cook. Having a working parent growing up meant that I needed to be able to provide for myself, especially during breaks in summer time. This skill of cooking would later be a professional choice when I served for eight years in the U.S. Army.

Faced with a variety of options for trades when I join the Army, I decided on what I liked already, cooking. I enlisted under the job code 92G (Ninety-Two Gulf) or Food Service Specialist; the gloried title of a cook.

Follow the Recipe, Soldier!

I attended AIT (Advanced Individual Training) at Ft. Lee, VA; where the Army’s best and competing chef team trained. We learned the importance of following the recipes given to us because we were cooking in high volumes. As our training progressed, we were given more flexibility with our cooking tasks; allowed to improvise our own recipes. All the while, we still had the foundation of the original recipe.

As I moved out of military life and into a civilian education, I began to see how I could relate these skills other facets of my professional skills. Again, back in school at The Art Institute of Houston, I found myself learning the foundations or recipes for creating multimedia projects. My focus shifted to the web development side of curriculum and I began what would be my career path.

Having a good foundation in web development then meant knowing the basics of a lot of different development languages; namely HTML and CSS with some emphasis on dynamic scripting languages like JavaScript and PHP. These were my ingredients for creating websites for my clients. As my skills improved and I became more comfortable in the kitchen; or the Internet, I was then able to take those ingredients and play with them in such a way that I could create more complex websites.

Game Changer: Framework

Since 2001 I’ve been using the available ingredients for creating websites. New technologies and tools progressed along the way like jQuery, AJAX, and my introduction to frameworks. There’s no shortage now of frameworks, but even as recently as 2010, I wasn’t using them for everyday development.

Enter Twitter Bootstrap. Bootstrap is a collection of tools for creating websites and web applications. It contains HTML and CSS-based design templates for typography, forms, buttons, charts, navigation and other interface components, as well as optional JavaScript extensions.

When I first began to use Bootstrap it was a little intimidating. It’s a very large code-base with so many possibilities. My approach to using this framework was not unlike starting out in web development. Not until I became more comfortable with Bootstrap did I start to use it’s full recipes for successful website development.

In early 2012, using a Content Management Framework I’d been using since 2007; MODX, I decided to take full advantage of both frameworks, integrating Bootstrap into how I approached web development. This made for a much more efficient use of development time. Using the recipes provided by Bootstrap, deploying websites became a less time consuming endeavor and left time for more dynamic customizations.

Just as fast as Bootstrap was initially released, improvements were being added to the framework. Bootstrap now has the foundations of helping developers created responsive layouts for mobile development.

Since Bootstrap took off, there has been an explosion of web development and responsive design frameworks. I have experimented with frameworks such as: HTML5 Boilerplate, InuitCSS, and Foundation by Zurb.

When learning to cook your first meal, it’s important to know the ingredients, measure them out correctly, and follow the recipe. When you have a good foundation with the recipe, then you customize that recipe and make it your own. Frameworks allow you to follow a recipe without loosing the ability to add your own flare. Frameworks, of course, are not limited to front-end development. I encourage you to experiment with frameworks and find which recipe suits your taste.

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