By Syed Fazle Rahman

Twitter Bootstrap 3 – JavaScript Components

By Syed Fazle Rahman

Twitter Bootstrap happens to be the easiest and the best CSS framework on the Internet today. It allows developers with no CSS knowledge to build basic templates without any efforts. But this doesn’t stop designers from using Bootstrap.

Twitter Bootstrap has one of the best sets of powerful JavaScript components. These components are easy to use and are usable in your web project, today.

In this tutorial, I will discuss some of the best Twitter Bootstrap’s JavaScript components and how to use them.

Let’s get started!

To begin with, we will need Twitter Bootstrap 3 setup from, a web browser (preferably Google Chrome) and a good text editor (I am using Sublime Edit). The first thing that we should understand is that Bootstrap’s JavaScript components are written in jQuery. So we need jQuery to work with them.

After, you have downloaded Bootstrap 3, copy the contents of the dist folder and paste it inside a new work-space.

You must be thinking why do we need the CSS and fonts folder when we are going to learn JavaScript? There are many Bootstrap JavaScript components that depends on CSS to work properly. So unless you include the Bootstrap CSS it won’t function properly.

Twitter Bootstrap 3 also allows us to use each module individually instead of downloading all the JavaScript components. We will see at the end of this tutorial how to use a single module instead of including all the components.

Some of the main Twitter Bootstrap JavaScript components explained in this tutorial are:

  1. Modal
  2. Dropdown
  3. ScrollSpy
  4. Tab
  5. Tooltip
  6. Popover
  7. Alert

We will cover each of them in this tutorial. We will also experiment a bit with each component so that we get a customized Bootstrap 3 JavaScript component. Take a look at our demo page here.


A modal is a dialog prompt just like a traditional alert. It comes with advanced features like modal title, modal body, modal footer, close button and a close symbol at the top right corner. It can be used as a confirmation window in many applications such as before making a payment, or deleting an account, etc.

<!-- Button trigger modal -->
<button class="btn btn-primary btn-lg" data-toggle="modal" data-target="#myModal">
  Launch demo modal

<!-- Modal -->
<div class="modal fade" id="myModal" tabindex="-1" role="dialog" aria-labelledby="myModalLabel" aria-hidden="true">
  <div class="modal-dialog">
    <div class="modal-content">
      <div class="modal-header">
        <button type="button" class="close" data-dismiss="modal" aria-hidden="true">&times;</button>
        <h4 class="modal-title" id="myModalLabel">Modal title</h4>
      <div class="modal-body">
        <h1>Hello World!</h1>
      <div class="modal-footer">
        <button type="button" class="btn btn-default" data-dismiss="modal">Close</button>
        <button type="button" class="btn btn-primary">Save changes</button>
    </div><!-- /.modal-content -->
  </div><!-- /.modal-dialog -->
</div><!-- /.modal -->


Bootstrap Modal has three sections: header, body and footer. You can decide what to place in each of them.


Creating a drop down menu in Twitter Bootstrap 3 gets extremely easy. You just have to understand right markup required. You can use this DropDown in a navigation bar or inside any div you wish.

<div class="dropdown">
  <a data-toggle="dropdown" href="#">Show Links <b class="caret"></b></a>
  <ul class="dropdown-menu" role="menu">
    <li><a href="#">First Link</a></li>
    <li><a href="#">Second Link</a></li>
    <li role="presentation" class="divider"></li>
    <li><a href="#">Third Link</a></li>


First, you have to give the class “dropdown” to any parent element that you want to treat as a drop down element. In my case, I have used a div element. You can even make an li element as “dropdown”. Then you have to place an “<a>” tag immediately inside the dropdown element. Add a new attribute “data-toggle” to the link tag and give the value as “dropdown”. Finally add a ul list below the link tag. You have to add class as “dropdown-menu” to the ul tag.

To add a separator between li elements, add a new emplty li element with class as “divider” to the list.

if you are not comfortable with the data-* attributes then you can even trigger drop down using jQuery. Give a unique id to the link element and call the dropdown method as below:



ScrollSpy is an interesting JavaScript module added to the Twitter Bootstrap library. It is basically a combination of navigation menu and contents below. Its role is to update the active item in the navigation bar as you scroll down the content area.

To use the ScrollSpy feature you have to add data-spy=”scroll” and data-target=”#top-navigation” attribute to the body element. Here #top-navigation is the id of my navigation bar. Make sure the links in the navigation bar are internal links. See the demo page for a live example.



Twitter Bootstrap 3’s tabs take inspiration from traditional jQuery tabs. They both look and function alike. To use Bootstrap Tabs you need to define two separate sections: the tabs navigation and tab areas.

The markup goes like below:

<!-- Nav tabs -->
<ul class="nav nav-tabs">
  <li class="active"><a href="#home" data-toggle="tab">Home</a></li>
  <li><a href="#profile" data-toggle="tab">Profile</a></li>
  <li><a href="#messages" data-toggle="tab">Messages</a></li>
  <li><a href="#settings" data-toggle="tab">Settings</a></li>

<!-- Tab panes -->
<div class="tab-content">
  <div class="tab-pane active" id="home">...</div>
  <div class="tab-pane" id="profile">...</div>
  <div class="tab-pane" id="messages">...</div>
  <div class="tab-pane" id="settings">...</div>

The navigation is created using a ul element with the class “nav-tabs” while the additional class “nav” is used to apply the navigation CSS style. Each li element is composed of an internal link that should define the attribute “data-toggle” as “tab”. This triggers Twitter Bootstrap’s Tabs JavaScript and the respective tab area is displayed.

Coming to the tabs area, it consists of a set of div elements. The parent div should have a class as “tab-content” and the child divs should have a class “tab-pane”. Each tab-pane must have an id corresponding to the internal links defined in the tabs navigation. In the above example, I have set a class of the first tab-pane as active. This makes it visible by default.


ToolTip is an extremely useful JavaScript plugin provided by Twitter Bootstrap 3. It helps in showing help texts on any HTML element. It’s cross-browser compatible, too!

To use ToolTip, the markup goes like this:

<button id="myButton" type="button" class="btn btn-default" data-toggle="tooltip" data-placement="left" title="" data-original-title="Tooltip on left">Tooltip on left</button>

The above markup displays a button with the tooltip feature. Attribute “data-toggle” is used by Bootstrap to identify on which element it has to display the tooltip. Attribute “data-original” is used to define what goes inside the tooltip. Attribute “data-placement” is used to help bootstrap where to show the tooltip.

For performance reasons, Bootstrap will not initialize the ToolTip and Popover components by default. You have to initialize them manually by using the following jQuery:



If you have ever been a hardcore iBook reader, then you would understand what popovers are. They are the extended version of ToolTip with some more functionalities. You can display more HTML elements like img tags, links, additional divs, etc inside Popovers.

<button type="button" class="btn btn-default" data-toggle="popover" data-placement="left" data-content="Vivamus sagittis lacus vel augue laoreet rutrum faucibus." data-original-title="" title="">
          Popover on left

The HTML snippet displays a button with popover functionality. It also has set of custom data- attributes that you must necessarily understand.

Attribute “data-toggle” identifies which element must control the popover.
Attribute “data-content” contains the data that should be displayed inside the popover.
Attribute “data-placement” tells on which side should the popover appear.

In the above case, the data must be plain text only. If you want to display HTML content inside the popover, then you have to add the additional attribute “data-html” as true. The HTML data-content must go inside the double quotes with escaped characters wherever necessary.

The markup for the HTML data contents inside the popover should be like below:

<button id="myPopover" type="button" class="btn btn-default" data-toggle="popover" data-placement="left" data-html="true" data-content="<a href=\"\">Go to google</a>" data-original-title="" title="">
          Popover on left

Use the below jQuery to initialize popovers:



Alerts by Twitter Bootstrap are not like window popups. They are a set of divs with predefined background colors and a dismiss button. The markup goes like below:

<div class="alert alert-warning fade in">
        <button type="button" class="close" data-dismiss="alert" aria-hidden="true">×</button>
        <strong>Holy guacamole!</strong> Best check yo self, you're not looking too good.

The above alert has a pale yellow background, since it is a warning message. You can change the color to red by changing the class of the alert to “alert-danger”. Every alert div must have a close button with a set of data- attributes as defined above. Attribute “data-dismiss” hides the alert div when clicked.


You might now have a better understanding of how Twitter Bootstrap helps us in writing JavaScript components without writing a single line of jQuery in our code. These JavaScript components are one of the main reasons why the Twitter Bootstrap framework is so popular in the web today.

It has become a framework not only for the developers with zero CSS knowledge but also for designers to enhance their design turnover time. In my next tutorial, I will explain how to create sliders using Twitter Bootstrap 3’s Carousel component.

Hopefully, you have enjoyed reading my post. If you have any queries feel free to leave them in the comment section. I will be happy to help.

If you are new to Twitter Bootstrap then visit my author’s page on Sitepoint and read my previous Twitter Bootstrap Tutorials.

Demo page

  • Rajesh Wadhwani

    Extremely nice article, clear and exactly to the point. No nonsense talking. Thanks for your hard work.

    • Syed Fazle Rahman

      thanks for appreciating. :)

  • Nicholas

    “Twitter Bootstrap happens to be the easiest and the best CSS framework on the Internet today” – really?

  • Steve

    “Twitter Bootstrap happens to be the easiest and the best CSS framework on the Internet today…”

    Sorry, but where does this ‘fact’ come from? Has it been proven that Twitter Bootstrap is easier or better?

    • Anonymous

      Steve3, that’s called an “opinion”. Writers are allowed to have them, you know. You can have your own, if you want. If you can describe it in enough detail, I’ll publish your opinion here, too.

      • Steve

        Hi SitePointEd,

        I wasn’t trying to be contentious – I was merely trying to ascertain whether that statement was a fact and, if so, where I could see the poll or test results to see how the conclusion was achieved and who the other contenders were.

        As it is an opinion of the author I feel that perhaps that possibly should have been made clear.

        That being said, in my opinion this is a good article…

        • Prad

          Seriously Steve! You are making an arse of yourself commenting again.
          Do also wan to ascertain if this a fact? “Twitter Bootstrap has one of the best sets of powerful JavaScript components.”

          Seems you never went through the whole article

        • beano

          Just a quickie to say that I agree with you Steve – that given the amount of frameworks available it is more than unprofessional to drive home an OPINION which doesn’t at least lead to at least some comparative content in the article. (John Errington’s post unconsciously comments on this point, i feel) It’s a bit sad for someone who feels he has the calibre to review a product.
          What is even more incredible AND sad is the the rebuff made to you by SitePointEd. Which seems to suggest that anybody who has an OPINION can say ANYTHING. I hooked into SitePoint a year ago and in general found articles knowledgable and pertinant. Since a few months all that seems to have changed. (Opinion! & I apparently don’t have to justify!!) . Given the exchange of comment around this article i’m beginning to understand why.

          • dean paul

            Did you even read the full content? Why don’t you just read the tutorial? Arguing over an OPINION isn’t going to make you more knowledgeable. If you are an expert in some other framework it is good. But learning a few good points about bootstrap wont hurt you. May be you can find something good about this which is not available in any other framework.

  • Sarada

    Good one!
    How can we print them bootstrap table grids?

  • James

    Great post!! :) keep it up.

  • john errington

    The best? perhaps. I’ve previously used YAML, and I’ve moved to Bootstrap because its media friendly and more powerful. But that also makes it tricky to customize. So yes, its easy to use “as is”, but if you want to change ANYTHING use*/

  • Syed Fazle Rahman

    Hello Steve,

    As a matter of fact, this is just an opinion. I, myself, do not heavily rely on stats but you want to see this: This clearly shows how Twitter Bootstrap’s demand has tremendously increased within past few days as compared to other CSS frameworks.

    BTW thanks for appreciating. :)

  • Farha

    In the article it says
    ‘Twitter Bootstrap 3 also allows us to use each module individually instead of downloading all the JavaScript components. We will see at the end of this tutorial how to use a single module instead of including all the components.’
    But at the end of the article I see no mention…
    Am I missing something?
    A good article though…Thanks!

  • auroraborealis

    I am a tb noob so your articles are truly a blessing! I am trying to create a search results page similar to the one air bnb has. What components should I be using? Are there any addons etc specifically for a search results page?

  • whattheheck

    Thank you for showing how to do modals with a buttons. Every example I saw was doing modals with anchors.

  • Vengatesh TR

    Thank you for explaining. Lot of doubts rectified :)

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