Bootstrap or Material UI – the age-old question everyone has asked yourself at least once. Without a long introductory we want to present a short table with main conclusions on each criterion of the comparison. Those of you who want to know more may read further.
A short comparison for those who look for the quick answer
|What is?||CSS, HTML, JS framework for developing responsive websites||React UI framework that follows Material Design principles|
|Who is the developer?||Twitter||Material design – Google, Material UI – unnamed team.|
|Where / whom is used?||Airbnb, Dropbox, Apple Music, Twitter, Coursera, Bloomberg||Nasa, Amazon, Unity, Google and all its products, JPMorgan
|Grid system||12-column grid system, that provides a fully responsive design||12-column grid system, that provides a fully responsive design|
|Information layout||The grid system is both for mobile and desktop (mobile-first) with clear and readable UI for all platforms.||Mobile-first and very user-friendly, but UI can be overwhelming with animated interactions for desktop.|
|Dependencies||Bootstrap-based apps are quite heavy and may be slow if you do not devote time to get rid of unnecessary components and JS scripts||Material UI is only React based. Material design in pure CSS without any third-party libraries|
|The speed of development||High speed of development thanks to its' reusable code||The development speed is less than bootstrap offers, but can be increased by using templates|
|Customization||Provides consistency in user experience and interface everybody is familiar with, average opportunities to customization||Low consistency in user experience since designers create hundreds of different UI. Provides unique easy customizable design|
A Detailed Comparison
Bootstrap is a powerful CSS, HTML, JS framework that helps to create responsive web applications. It’s the most popular framework for building apps both for mobile and desktop. The original name is Twitter Blueprint because Bootstrap was developed by the Twitter team as an internal framework. The first release as an open-source project was on August 19 in 2011. The main goal of that framework was to make developers’ lives easier and to encourage consistency across internal tools. Such apps like Airbnb, Dropbox, Apple Music, Twitter, Coursera, Bloomberg are built on top of Bootstrap.
Material UI is a React UI framework that follows principles of Material design. Material UI is based on Facebook’s React framework and contains components that are made according to Material guidelines. Material design was developed by Google in 2014 while Material UI was developed by a small, dedicated, and passionate team in 2017. The first beta version of Material UI on GitHub was released on June 23 in 2017. The first running version dates from 2018 according to the official website. Material UI is strongly connected with Material design, but you shouldn’t confuse the two. Material UI is just a react component library without Material design, that’s why we built our comparison from the perspective of the fact that Material guidelines go first, Material framework follows. Google uses Material Design in all its products, Material UI is used by Nasa, Amazon, Unity, JPMorgan, etc.
Bootstrap grid is a flexible and fully responsive mobile-first grid system that uses containers, rows and columns to help the app adapt to any screen. Rows and columns are combined to create 1 or more containers. A bootstrap grid system is a twelve-column system that has a range of rules to follow, like rows are only used to create columns, there must be no content inside the row, only columns can be immediate children of rows, and others (read more here).
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Material Designs’ responsive UI is based on twelve columns grid layout. Column width is flexible, while gutter widths that form the space between content are fixed values in the range between 0 and 10px. Margin widths that separate the content from the left and right screen borders are also defined as fixed values. Gutter and margin widths can be either equal or not. Grid system adopts when the screen size reaches some predetermined values that are called “breakpoints”. When that happens, the layout adjusts to the screen and changes the number of columns where the app places its content. That provides developers and users with a fully responsive UI.
Bootstrap is a system of how the information is organized and presented. And we put the major emphasis on the word “information” because apps like Twitter, Coursera, Apple music were developed with minimalistic design with soft colors, bold and big headlines, little or no animation. People visit these websites not to enjoy fancy buttons or smooth and bright animation, but to get information as fast and easy as possible. Bootstrap offers that opportunity with a minimum amount of distractions and provides clear and readable UI and thank it for that!
PostgreSQL integrated. No jQuery and Bootstrap!
Material design was primarily made for mobile. Mobiles have smaller screens and as a result, less space to place elements and information – the solution from Material UI is animation, layers, sliders, pop-ups. Mobiles don’t have a pointer, but users need to understand where they touch on a touch screen – here animated feedback of touch from the app goes. Immediate feedback is necessary for mobiles, but for what reason can you use all this click-get-feedback animation for the web? Animation makes the user experience better and looks cool indeed, but if you use some app daily (for example, for work) this nice-looking smooth animation can be overwhelming. It’s quite easy to make the app look incredible with Material UI, but a nice-looking design doesn’t always meet the users’ needs.
Bootstrap is not a simple framework. The package contains tons of features and a big code with a lot of scripts, a large number of CSS classes, and jQuery dependency. That leads to problems with performance, the huge size of the app, battery draining, page speed. It’s possible to avoid the consequences of the Bootstrap framework if you devote time (quite a lot) and get rid of components that are not used in your app. Then you will get a lightweight working app. The Bootstrap team of developers is also progressing that way and we expect them to remove jQuery from Bootstrap 5. This may seem good news to the community, but don’t forget that removing the largest client-side dependency isn’t a fast task to accomplish. More than a year has passed since that announcement, the release date was in early 2020 first, now it’s predicted somewhere in late 2020d. Our team is waiting for it.
Material UI is a set of React-based components. Components can be used independently from each other, which means you have in your app only styles for components that the app uses. Material UI is pure css and doesn’t require any library to work. You get only what you need and want to use.
From the perspective of customization, we can compare Bootstrap and Material UI as consistency vs uniqueness. Why so?
As we have mentioned in the first paragraph, Bootstraps’ developers wanted to provide consistency in experience both for developers and users. To be honest, they have succeeded. If you look at several dozen apps that are based on Bootstrap, you will see the same things in the same places with little differences. Material UI is based on Material guidelines. And Material guidelines are rules and principles for motion, interaction, animation, building navigation, typography, shapes, colors, etc. You shouldn’t follow them all, you must instead combine them, and don’t forget that your design must fit the content it displays so user experience becomes better. But there is no one-size-fits-all solution for every web app, there is a set of rules (Material guidelines) that helps a designer to create a modern and stylish interface that will be unique. That leads us to the problem, when we use 100s of different UIs and every time we open a new app created by Material design dedicated designer, we meet the situation like “Erm… Where am I supposed to click?” There is no consistency of experience, but there is a space for creativity.
The Speed of Development
As we mentioned before, Bootstrap goes with many UI components, like typography, tables, buttons, navigation, labels, alerts, tabs, etc. It provides enough necessary elements to build a good-looking design with modest efforts and allows developers to concentrate on the functionality of the app. Furthermore, there are a lot of themes and templates to download on the web. That results in high development speed.
Material UI provides developers with material-based UI components. They help to decrease the amount of time that is needed for design and app development. But since Material UI is mostly a set of UI components, it doesn’t offer such a great boost to the development speed as Bootstrap does. If you want to improve development speed significantly, it’s better to use material templates.
For Those Who Want to Use Them Both
Is it possible to take advantage of them both? To enjoy stylish responsive design without a lot of time spent adopting the app for different resolutions?
Yes, it’s possible with Material Design bootstrap (that is also called MDbootstrap). It is a set of libraries built on top of bootstrap and other popular frameworks like Vue, Angular, React and follows Material design guidelines. That combo allows developers to use close-to-bootstrap syntax that everybody is familiar with, so there will be fewer problems while developing. The list of MDbootstrap for different frameworks you can find here.
That is not know-how, MDbootstrap goes with a large number of tutorials, free and premium templates, a friendly community, and long history (almost since that day when Material Design has gone from being an idea to the real guidelines).
That’s all. Thanks for reading.
At Flatlogic, we develop admin dashboard templates and React Native templates. We are listed among the Top 20 Web Development companies from Belarus and Lithuania. During the last 6 years, we have successfully completed more than 50 big projects for small startups and large enterprises. As a team, we always have a deep desire to help our clients.