Rich, smart API continues to wow developers, long after initial release
According to W3Techs’ Matthias Gelbmann, jQuery runs on “every second website”, was the fastest-growing web technology in 2011, and shows “no sign of a saturation yet”. Even sites using other libraries (about half of those running MooTools or Prototype) tend to also add jQuery into the mix, and Gelbmann said only three countries – Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Yemen – don’t show jQuery as the most popular library. jQuery also proved hugely popular in Mozilla’s recent mobile dev survey, gaining a 74 per cent share, with 51 per cent also opting for jQuery Mobile in their work.
.net spoke to the jQuery team to get their take on the news, why they think jQuery has been such a hit, and what this means for the web development community.
.net: What’s your reaction to the revelation jQuery is now used on half of sites and yet is still growing?
Jay Blanchard: Wow! I’m not really surprised, though. The low learning curve makes it easy for developers to add jQuery to websites. You don't have to modify your markup and you can stick with the principles of progressive enhancement very easily.
Addy Osmani: I think the news speaks volumes about the impact the jQuery team's continuous efforts to solve a number of common problems for developers (cross-browser irregularities, complex or differing APIs) have had over the past few years.
Paul Irish: This stat indicates jQuery unearthed a rich API that's quite sensible and smart. Meanwhile, the jQuery development team has worked tirelessly to sort out browser inconsistencies, reporting them upstream and fixing them for the web.
.net: Why do you think jQuery has been such a hit, often at the expense of other libraries?
Anne-Gaelle Colom: I believe jQuery is so popular thanks to the fact that it is constantly evolving and improving. The team listens carefully to the community and carries out extensive testing to ensure the code written by developers will run on all major browsers despite cross-browser issues. The attention to detail paid by the team doesn't stop here. The library also benefits from clear and detailed documentation, countless tutorials and other resources developed by the team or members of the community. Furthermore, when using jQuery, developers can also use jQuery UI and jQuery Mobile to create attractive and effective UIs that give the web app user a rich and pleasant experience.
Jay Blanchard: Aside from my earlier comments, I’d credit this to the jQuery team and the community. Both look for ways to help each other understand and use the library. Look at the plug-in builders. There wouldn't have been so many so quickly if the community and the jQuery team didn't support those efforts. Continuous updates to keep up with developer demands and the demands of the web industry are a huge plus. In the beginning, documentation for the jQuery library set it apart.
Darcy Clarke: jQuery has always been and will always be ubiquitous in its malleable APIs, provisions for consistent functionality cross-browser, and thriving community support. These aspects are what made the library the dominant go-to resource it is today. Along with a slew of innovative first offerings that built atop other libraries, such as Prototype, jQuery had the winning combination.
.net: How do you think a relatively ubiquitous library can benefit the web developer community?
Jay Blanchard: It gives everyone a ‘common’ language. Look at how LAMP unites a community – four different technologies, one huge community. When everyone is speaking the same language it is easier to move forward and innovate.
Addy Osmani: The jQuery project's efforts to provide clean, concise, easy to consume APIs have encouraged standards organisations to take a long, hard look at what they provide in browser APIs and we can all thank them for helping push these efforts in the right direction.
Mat Marquis: I think it acts as a great proving ground for emerging conventions. I know members of the jQuery team are very actively involved in web standards, and I think we’ll be seeing no small amount of the jQuery API’s influence appearing in native functionality in years to come.
.net: How do you see things developing in the future?