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“jQuery – the future of the user experience?”

Many detractors out there will be quick to jump in and rebuke me on this point, jQuery is NOT the future of the online user experience.

Well, at this point in time its very much a matter of opinion.

But if the last few years are anything to go by then jQuery needs to be taken quite seriously.

I think I should give some background to the origins of jQuery and what exactly its all about in the hope that this will shed further light on this point.

jQuery started off as a pet project by John Resig in 2005. This involved combining the power of CSS pseudo-selectors with JavaScript – the outcome as we know it – jQuery.

jQuery is now in its fourth major release and has already garnered a massive global following. Some of the big names that are actively using it are Google, Dell, Amazon, Microsoft, Electronic Arts & Mozilla.

jQuery has allowed for the simplification of the coding process and is very much part of my coding mantra of “code less and do more”.

jQuery is all about simplicity and the two main concepts at the core of it is abstraction and chaining.

What is Abstraction?

In the past web developers struggled to develop websites that rendered correctly and identically both in Internet Explorer and Firefox. This resulted in problem layouts and major hacks to get the layout right in either browser (but mostly in IE). Developers were forced to create browser-sniffing scripts that called different sets of code according to the browser calling the page.

So JavaScript was inevitably relegated to mostly rollover effects and other simple implementations which allowed for developers to avoid all this work.

Enter jQuery. jQuery abstracts the differences between browsers, which makes it possible to write one set of code that works easily and seamlessly across all browsers. It simplifies the process, cuts down on development time and also provides for a series of standard methods for common tasks.

Chaining

Generally, when performing a user interaction, you choose objects to do something based either on user actions or a timed animation. More often than not you will want to perform multiple actions on the same object. Using JavaScript complicates the process as this would require multiple lines of code but with jQuery you have the option to chain commands together.

I can continue with the technical breakdown and analysis but I wanted to highlite, what I think are the 2 main benefits of using jQeury.

What does this have to do with the user experience?

Well by allowing developers to have a library that allows for simplified coding and reusable objects, bot only that but also a library that allows for multiple interactions and user events with the same set of code – this all allows for more time to be devoted to the essence of web development and great user experiences.

jQuery also allows for great GUI effects that are now possible. You can control basic animation of transparency, colour, margins and proportions.

While there are a number of competitors out there such as MooTools, Yahoo! YUI and Prototype 1.6.1 – I think jQuery trumps all of its competitors, for now, but the future will tell which one of these will be the clear long term winner.

But from my perspective its a win win situation for us in the industry.

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