Bootstrap’s Maintainers Leave Twitter For GitHub And Obvious Corp., Will Move It Into Its Own Organization

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Should You Trust Your Gut? The Answer Is Yes.

Twitter’s Bootstrap, an open-source framework for quickly building web sites and apps, has been a massive success. It’s even starting to spawn its own ecosystem of related services now. Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton, the two developers behind the project, however, have now decided to leave the company to pursue new opportunities at GitHub and Biz Stone’s and Evan Williams’ Obvious Corp. respectively.

As Otto noted in the answer to a Quora question earlier this year, the two never worked on Bootstrap fulltime. Instead, he wrote, he tries to “get a few hours in at night and more on weekends.” Today’s announcement, Otto emphasized in his blog post, “has nothing to do with a disagreement about Bootstrap.”

The project, writes Otto, “will remained a Twitter project on GitHub fort he time being.” In the long run, however, Thornton and Otto plan (with the help of Twitter’s open source team) to launch an open-source organization dedicated to the development of Bootstrap. The project, Otto writes, “has grown beyond us and the Twitter brand. It’s a huge project playing a pretty awesome role in the web development industry, and we’re excited to see it continue to grow.”

Questions About The Early Days Of Bootstrap

Bootstrap, says Otto, was originally developed to make better-looking internal tools for the company and then open sourced by him and Thornton. Today’s announcement, however, also stirred up a bit of a discussion about the genesis of the Bootstrap project. Otto, after all, previously worked at product design firm ZURB, the company behind Bootstrap competitor Foundation.

As ZURB’s “Chief Instigator” and Foundation evangelist Bryan Zmijewski notes on Hacker News today, “the first iteration of Bootstrap emerged from the work ZURB did over the last few years prototyping with our clients. In fact, the initial Bootstrap push had direct lines of code and copy taken from ZURB’s work on what today is Foundation 1.0.” Quite a few of ZURB’s engineers, he says, worked on the project before Otto left and the “designers at ZURB even shared that vision with Mark as part of our refinement of Foundation 2.0 before it was launched.”

In a response to Zmijewski’s comment, Otto admits that Bootstrap “emerged” from his work at ZURB, “but more importantly, from the entire web community.” He also argues that he removed all of the old code before the launch of Bootstrap. “I made an honest mistake that any developer can by using code from the work I did at my previous employer, but I also fully rectified it immediately by removing all the offending code and replacing it with my own,” he writes. Otto then goes on to accuse his former employee of ripping “nearly every single component we created in our framework and added it to Foundation, including: the basics of our grid system, navbar, responsive navbar, breadcrums, alerts, labels, tooltips, popovers, prepended and appended inputs, breadcrumbs, accordion, progress bars, image styles, and more.”