I’ve been thinking about jQuery

November 8th, 2011

The more and more that I work with JavaScript, the less and less I find myself using jQuery. And then I saw this tweet and it made realized that there are two types of jQuery users. There’s the designers and HTML/CSS people that have no interest in programming but use jQuery to add functionality and effects to sites. And there’s the developers who use jQuery as a starting point and move more and more into using pure JavaScript. jQuery isn’t meant more for one group than the other and the great thing about it is that it works for both.

For me, the best thing about jQuery is it made me realized JavaScript isn’t the worst invention in the history of the web like I’d been told. And that the browser is capable of things that perviously I’d only been able to achieve with Flash. In fact, at work for a time, my catchphase must have been “We don’t need Flash to do that.”

But, I’m beginning to sense an wave of anti-jQuery sentiment amongst the web development community. jQuery is on half of the top 100,000 web sites or something like that. And I’ve noticed this being pointed out more and more on tech sites when they talk about jQuery. It almost reminds me of how Adobe and other Flash supporters liked to mention that the Flash Player was on 97% of computers. So what if jQuery is super popular? If you don’t like it, aren’t you just being a web hipster? Maybe, but what if the feelings aren’t towards jQuery itself, but the fact that it seems every designer and developer feels the need to have some jQuery effect on their site, whether it needs it or not.

I’m a fan of Flash and I think it’s the best development tool for games right now, especially if AIR works as good as Adobe claims it does on mobile devices. But I always shake my head when I visit a web site and it has a Flash built navigation. I can’t think of a single reason that Flash ever needs to be used for something like that. People aren’t impressed with the cool lightning effects anymore, in fact, they’re probably annoyed by it. But now it seems jQuery has stepped up to replace those cool nav effects with their own. Done right, a little arrow on the bottom of a web site’s navigation sliding back and forth can add to the site. It’s too bad I’m beginning to see more and more complex animations on drop downs that add nothing to the site.

Wait, am I saying using jQuery on every site is bad? Isn’t that a little hypocritical of me? I’m not saying that at all. In fact, I use jQuery on almost every site I build. But I’m not using it to add effects to most of them, I’m using it to add functionality that some browsers are missing, browsers like IE7 and IE8.

Here’s the thing, I think we need to remember that while jQuery is awesome, it’s not the solution to everything. We need to be careful that we don’t create whatever the jQuery version of Flash intros might be. And there’s no such thing as a jQuery developer and knowing jQuery doesn’t mean you know JavaScript.

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