This article first appeared in issue 214 of .net magazine - the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers.
1. Less panic when things break
The one thing every developer dreads is when something that you rely on to work doesn’t. This could be a core library function or a plug-in, but both provide you with a dire need to fix something.
2. Spot bad code early
If you use a library that allows community plug-ins, you’ve probably already come across a bad one that you’ve had to remove from your project, or have wasted time trying to make work. To be able to notice a pattern that may cause performance problems can mean the difference between a happy or unhappy client once a site is live.
3. Do you really need one?
Depending on your required functionality, you might be able to write the code needed without a library. If you’re only doing simple DOM manipulations, it might be worth giving it a go.
4. Keep up with the Joneses
So, have I talked you into it? If so, the best place to start is to look inside the library you’re using. Google provides uncompressed versions for you at code.google.com/apis/library and I’d recommend bookmarking the latest version of your favourite.
When you run into something you don’t understand, head to the Mozilla MDC (opens in new tab) for explanations. If you’re looking for examples of the new possibilities that HTML5 will provide, then html5demos.com has loads of great and simple examples to work from.