Navbars

Multiple choice

What's the best place to get copy-and-paste HTML templates for Bootstrap components?

Saving

Not graded. So why do it?

Multiple choice

What should a Bootstrap navbar look like on a small screen?

Saving
A

A tiny font, to make sure it fits.

B

A hamburger icon, that shows a vertical menu.

C

An AI-powered voice response menu.

D

A virtualized multisense AR customer-driven... something.

Not graded. So why do it?

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Lesson contents

What is a navbar?

A navbar is a menu-looking thing, like this:

In BS, the navbar can include branding, to make an entire header. "Branding" identifies the website. Just the word "DoggoLand" in this case, but you can add a logo.

If you view the menu on a phone, the browser will collapse the menu under a hamburger icon:

Menu on mobile

BS magic at work.

Simple navbar

Let's start with something simple for now. We'll make the navbar above, without the dropdown:

First, we need a place for the navbar to live on the page. Let's give the navbar a row in the layout.

  • <!-- Navbar -->
  • <div class="row">
  •   <div class="col">
  •     ...
  •   </div>
  • </div>
  • <!-- Content -->
  • <div class="row">
  •   <div class="col">
  •     ...
  •   </div>
  • </div>

Now let's copy the navbar sample from the BS website. There's a lot of code! Don't worry about it. You don't need to sweat the deets. Not much, anyway. I'll show you what parts you need to think about.

I ended up with:

  1. <nav class="navbar navbar-expand-lg bg-light">
  2.     <div class="container-fluid">
  3.         <a class="navbar-brand" href="#">DoggoLand</a>
  4.         <button class="navbar-toggler" type="button" data-bs-toggle="collapse" data-bs-target="#navbarNav" aria-controls="navbarNav" aria-expanded="false" aria-label="Toggle navigation">
  5.             <span class="navbar-toggler-icon"></span>
  6.         </button>
  7.         <div class="collapse navbar-collapse" id="navbarNav">
  8.             <ul class="navbar-nav">
  9.                 <li class="nav-item">
  10.                     <a class="nav-link" href="#">Rides</a>
  11.                 </li>
  12.                 <li class="nav-item">
  13.                     <a class="nav-link" href="#">Tickets</a>
  14.                 </li>
  15.                 <li class="nav-item">
  16.                     <a class="nav-link" href="#">Location</a>
  17.                 </li>
  18.             </ul>
  19.         </div>
  20.     </div>
  21. </nav>

Lines 1, 2, 20, and 21 wrap the navbar.

Line 3 makes the branding. This thing:

Branding

Marcus
Marcus

How would I add a logo?

Add an img tag on line 3:

  1. <nav class="navbar navbar-expand-lg bg-light">
  2.     <div class="container-fluid">
  3.         <a class="navbar-brand" href="#"<img src="..." alt="Logo">DoggoLand</a>

Lines 4-6 make the dropdown button, that shows up on small screens:

Small screen

Here's the code again:

  1. <nav class="navbar navbar-expand-lg bg-light">
  2.     <div class="container-fluid">
  3.         <a class="navbar-brand" href="#">DoggoLand</a>
  4.         <button class="navbar-toggler" type="button" data-bs-toggle="collapse" data-bs-target="#navbarNav" aria-controls="navbarNav" aria-expanded="false" aria-label="Toggle navigation">
  5.             <span class="navbar-toggler-icon"></span>
  6.         </button>
  7.         <div class="collapse navbar-collapse" id="navbarNav">
  8.             <ul class="navbar-nav">
  9.                 <li class="nav-item">
  10.                     <a class="nav-link" href="#">Rides</a>
  11.                 </li>
  12.                 <li class="nav-item">
  13.                     <a class="nav-link" href="#">Tickets</a>
  14.                 </li>
  15.                 <li class="nav-item">
  16.                     <a class="nav-link" href="#">Location</a>
  17.                 </li>
  18.             </ul>
  19.         </div>
  20.     </div>
  21. </nav>

Lines 7–19 are the menu options. Replace the # with URLs.

Line 7 is:

  • <div class="collapse navbar-collapse" id="navbarNav">

The id has to match line 4:

  • <button ... data-bs-target="#navbarNav" aria-controls="navbarNav" ...
Georgina
Georgina

Would we need to change it at all? Can we just leave it at navbarNav?

You only have to change it if you have more than one navbar on the page. If you don't, you shouldn't need to change it.

The active link

Look in code on the BS site, and you'll see an active class, and an aria-current property:

  • <a class="nav-link active" aria-current="page" href="#">Home</a>

They help users see which page in the menu is the current page.

  • If they're looking at the home page, the Home link should have the active class.
  • If they're on the blog page, the Blog link should have the active class.
  • If they're on the FAQ page, the FAQ link should have the active class.

The active class adds some special styling, to make the link look a little different.

Using them requires server-side programming. We won't be doing that in this course. You can remove them, to get:

  • <a class="nav-link" href="#">Home</a>

Adding links

You can add as many links as you like to the menu.

  • <li class="nav-item">
  •   <a class="nav-link" href="puppers.html">Puppers</a>
  • </li>
  • <li class="nav-item">
  •   <a class="nav-link" href="doggos.html">Doggos</a>
  • </li>
  • <li class="nav-item">
  •   <a class="nav-link" href="llamas.html">Llamas</a>
  • </li>

Too many links gets confusing for users. Try to keep to a maximum of around seven.

Changing the look and feel

There are some options you can use to change how the navbar looks. For example, you can change the menu's color from light to dark. This is from the official navbar page:

  • <nav class="navbar navbar-dark bg-dark">
  •   <!-- Navbar content -->
  • </nav>

You can set your own background color with a mix-in:

  • <nav class="navbar navbar-light navbar-custom">
  •   <!-- Navbar content -->
  • </nav>

navbar-custom isn't in BS. Your CSS might have this rule:

  • .navbar-custom {
  •   background-color: #e3f2fd;
  • }

Another fun thing you can do is make the navbar stick to the top of the page. fixed-top is the class you want.

  • <nav class="navbar fixed-top navbar-light bg-light">
  •   ...
  • </nav>

There's much more you can do. See the official navbar docs

Nested menu items

You can add a dropdown menu, like the Rides in this navbar:

How do you make it? Here's code for a regular menu item, from before:

  • <li class="nav-item">
  •   <a class="nav-link" href="llamas.html">Llamas</a>
  • </li>

Replace it with code that includes a dropdown.

  1. <li class="nav-item dropdown">
  2.   <a class="nav-link dropdown-toggle" title="Get your thrill on!" role="button" data-bs-toggle="dropdown" aria-expanded="false" href="#">
  3.     Rides
  4.   </a>
  5.   <div class="dropdown-menu">
  6.     <a class="dropdown-item" href="URL HERE" title="Spinning fun!" >Doggotron</a>
  7.     <a class="dropdown-item" href="URL HERE" title="I'll be bark" >Doggolator</a>
  8.     <a class="dropdown-item" href="URL HERE" title="A bazillion happy doggos">Dogarium</a>
  9.   </div>
  10. </li>

The li tag contains the dropdown. It has an a tag for the top menu item, and a div with an a for each link.

Responsive breakpoints

When the browser window gets small, navbars collapse vertically, under a hamburger icon:

Menu on mobile

That's good, but you need to think about how small the window should get before the navbar collapses.

These videos show the issue. When the navbar breakpoint is too narrow:

When the navbar breakpoint is too wide:

When the navbar breakpoint is just right:

The differences between these navbars is just one class, added to the nav tag. This is the version that's too narrow:

  • <nav class="navbar navbar-light bg-light navbar-expand-sm">

The navbar is in its regular horizontal view for small windows and up. But the menu is too wide for small windows, so it gets jumbled.

This is the version that's too wide:

  • <nav class="navbar navbar-light bg-light navbar-expand-lg">

The navbar is in its regular horizontal view for large windows and up. For medium-sized windows, the menu is in its vertical form. But medium windows can fit the horizontal form easily.

This is the version that's just right:

  • <nav class="navbar navbar-light bg-light navbar-expand-md">

The menu is in vertical hamburger form for extra small and small windows. For medium windows and up, the menu is in its regular horizontal form. That gives the best user experience.

Adela
Adela

We should always use navbar-expand-md?

No, it depends on your menu's width. You need to experiment. Try different classes, and see which one works best for your site. Here are the classes you can use:

  • navbar-expand: Never collapses vertically, stays horizontal (only use for very small menus)
  • navbar-expand-sm: Collapses below sm widths, < 576px
  • navbar-expand-md: Collapses below md widths, < 768px
  • navbar-expand-lg: Collapses below lg widths, < 992px
  • navbar-expand-xl: Collapses below xl widths, < 1200px
  • navbar-expand-xxl: Collapses below xxl widths, < 1400px

Usually, you'll use either navbar-expand-sm or navbar-expand-md, depending on the width of your menu.

Accessibility

Part of a11y is that the navbar should be usable with just the keyboard. You can try it out on the page you're looking at now. Click in your browser's address bar. Now press Tab, and the browser will select a link each time you do. The selected link is said to have the focus. The focus will march across the navbar.

When the top entry in a dropdown has the focus, press the down arrow. The menu expands.

Exercise

Exercise

Navbar

Make a navbar for Webwear, a website selling wearable browsers. It should look like this:

Navbar

Add meaningful titles to each link. For example:

Navbar titles

Include a dropdown with at least two menu items:

Navbar dropdown

When the browser window gets below small, the menu should go vertical:

Navbar vertical

Submit your URL as usual.

Next up

Let's see how you can make one navbar, and reuse it across your entire site. A big productivity win.