jQuery: the new J in AJAX!

Who knows?

By Rick Jelliffe
January 24, 2010 | Comments: 6

Looking back at 2009, the most significant technological innovation in our office was the adoption of jQuery. Basically, our web developers now don't say "We can do that in JavaScript!" but instead say "We can do that in jQuery!"

jQuery is a thin cross-platform JavaScript API based on a superset of CSS1-3 selectors: it also provides cleaner interface to AJAX, CSS, Events, Forms, DOM and tree operations, Effects and page object dimensions.

<pre-rant>I wanted to write something about it, but when I have looked at the jQuery website and other tutorials around the place, I find a syndrome that is really common nowadays: there is just a sea of details (you can do this, you can do that) with seemingly absolutely no material giving a pitch about what the technology does in general. No elevator pitch, no one paragraph description, no statements about functionality that would be out of scope. </>

<rant>I find this very unsatisfactory. Is this knowledge really so esoteric and arcane and ineffable that to express it is impossible? I presume the real reason is just that jQuery is quite new. Or that the people who use jQuery understand by doing rather than by summaries. If the theory is that it is easier to demonstrate than explain, unfortunately it doesn't work in my case. </>

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Actually, you gave a pretty good one paragraph description.

jQuery is mostly just a different perspective on what the browser APIs should have been - I don't think you can build an elevator pitch out of that.

Interesting: are you suggesting that developer-provided documentation is obsolete in the age of wikipedia? If people want documentation, they have to write it themselves (or contribute the marginal missing pieces they find out.)

That doesn't play well with Wikipedia's rule against original research, though...

Honestly, jQuery doesn't need that much of an introduction. It is really as simple as using a hammer and nail. Here's a few examples:

Q. What do I do with a nail?
A. Find the nail. Hammer it in.

Q. What do I do with several nails?
A. Find everything that looks like a nail. Hammer them in.

Q. How about screws?
A. Find everything that looks like a screw. Hammer them in.

Q. What do I do with an iPhone?
A. Find the iPhone. Hammer it in.
If the iPhone no longer works, find another iPhone and use the hammer to apply some glue to iPhone and the surface. Now use the hammer to push the iPhone against the surface. If you later want to move the iPhone, first find the iPhone, then use the hammer to unstick it from the surface and follow the previous steps to place it in a new location.

That's jQuery. IANAL. YMMV.

Strangely enough, I really wanted to use it but where you normally find a tutorial which actually explains how it works, I got more confused and gave up - looks interesting though, and looks very useful.

Second thoughts - I guess if you have to buy the book by the lead developer to become like 20% of the web then you are in away funding open source via the back door.

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