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What is jQuery?

Posted in jQuery
What is jQuery

What is jQuery? jQuery is a JavaScript library designed to make the process of web development and web design easier. A front-end web development tool, jQuery:

  • Makes development simpler. Programmers don’t need to worry about the intricacies of the underlying website — they can just start developing right away.
  • Promotes cross-browser compatibility. jQuery is responsive to multiple platforms and resolutions.
  • Increases engagement. jQuery includes features such as animations and effects, to create more engaging websites.
  • Improves scalability. jQuery loads pages faster and consequently reduces the resources used when rendering a website. 

jQuery uses JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5 to deliver a slick cross-platform user experience. At the same time, jQuery was initially released in 2006 — and the product has aged.

In the article below, we’ll discuss what jQuery is used for, the current jQuery version, and the major differences between jQuery vs. JavaScript.

What is jQuery? 

JavaScript is not a compiled language. Rather, it is usually translated in real-time using a client (such as a web browser). jQuery is a library — a script that is included in a web application and used to streamline the process of web development.

The jQuery library looks like any other JavaScript code:

what is jquery library code

Because it is a browser-based language, jQuery should work consistently on any browser that is up to current JavaScript standards. jQuery requires no additional resources and it can be inserted into any website as long as there is JavaScript support.

However, just inserting jQuery into a website will do nothing. The developer will need to know how to call jQuery elements and how to access the jQuery library. 

Let’s take a deeper look at what jQuery is used for.

What is jQuery Used For and Who Uses jQuery?

jQuery is primarily used by front-end developers. Uber, Udemy, and Twitter all use jQuery in their tech stacks. In fact, even websites that don’t still “use” jQuery for the foundations of their front-end may still include the library, because the library is integrated into many other plug-ins.

jQuery is best for:

  • JavaScript programmers looking to expand their knowledge.
  • Full-stack developers who want to learn more about front-end programming.
  • Aspiring front-end programmers who need a reliable library and framework.

Anyone who develops web applications in JavaScript can likely benefit from the knowledge of jQuery. Though it is now an older system, it’s integrated into many major sites. So a developer might not start a website in jQuery, but they may be called on to maintain one. 

How Do You Use or Install jQuery?

You can install jQuery through GIT BASH or PowerShell using a utility such as Visual Studio with the following command:

          npm install jquery

Alternatively, you can download the jQuery script and include it in your website with the following code:

          <script src = “[jquery location]”></script>

This code would be placed in the “header” section of your HTML document. You can edit jQuery libraries and the surrounding JavaScript code by using an editor such as Visual Studio:

Screenshot of jQuery in Visual Studio Code

But because jQuery is a library, you will need to thoroughly read the documentation of jQuery to understand how it will be used to design a site. You can look at some jQuery examples if you want to learn more about what jQuery can be used for.

The Most Important Features of jQuery

Why is jQuery so popular and ubiquitous? Primarily because it offers an incredible array of functionality and makes that functionality easy for the developer to access.

The most important features of jQuery include:

  • Effects and animations. This library makes it possible to, for instance, place shadows under text, or have text “swoop” in. jQuery can be used to create parallax displays for single-scrolling apps and complex gallery views.
  • Ajax. External data can be easily accessed through jQuery’s Ajax features. Today, Ajax is a little deprecated — but it can still be very useful for those who need loading access through JavaScript.
  • CSS manipulation. jQuery works alongside CSS and HTML5 to create a holistic platform that is easier to manage from an upper level.
  • Utilities. jQuery has many embedded utilities to make managing JavaScript easier, such as the ability to pull variables like the browser version. This streamlines JavaScript (but can confuse users who learn jQuery first and then transition to JavaScript later).

More important, perhaps, is the fact that jQuery also has an assortment of plug-ins and a strong community backing.

If there are ever any issues in your jQuery scripts, you can always consult with the community. If you need code snippets, you can find them on Github or elsewhere. And there are many plug-ins that you can simply drop in.

And because jQuery is open source, it has been greatly improved on, streamlined, maintained, and managed by a large number of people throughout the years. Any potential issues, errors, or vulnerabilities are swiftly addressed.

jQuery vs. JavaScript: What’s the Difference Between the Two?

jQuery is written in JavaScript. It is a JavaScript library. Programmers will access the functions of jQuery through their JavaScript code. While you can use JavaScript without jQuery, you can’t use jQuery without JavaScript.

If you’re trying to develop in jQuery or JavaScript, you may need tools such as an IDE (such as Visual Studio) and a compiler (such as Node.JS). While JavaScript is not generally a compiled language, Node.js opens up the possibility of compiling it server-side. 

Both jQuery and JavaScript are very popular skills that are frequently looked for by employers.

If you learn JavaScript, you’ll likely run into jQuery. But it’s usually not recommended for someone to start learning JavaScript through jQuery first. If you learn jQuery while you learn JavaScript for the first time, you could develop bad habits or fail to learn the underlying technology between the library. 

jQuery vs. React: Is jQuery Still Relevant?

jQuery is used in more than 75% of the top websites in the world. While its usage is somewhat deprecated (most programmers refrain from starting an application with jQuery today), jQuery specialists and analysts are still extremely desired. This is because thereframe are many existing systems that still rely upon jQuery and that still need to be extended and maintained.

In fact, jQuery is used by over 78% of the websites in the world. Comparatively, React is only used in about 3%. While jQuery is not the most modern JavaScript library or framework available, knowledge of it is still important and relevant within the industry.

jquery vs react

Nevertheless, when you look at recent trends, you can also see that React is rapidly growing in popularity. So, it’s usually a good idea for a developer to not only learn jQuery but also other frameworks and technologies. 

jQuery and React aren’t mutually exclusive. Some applications do use jQuery alongside other alternatives like React, Angular JS, or Vue. But this isn’t usually advised because there’s a lot of overlap between systems.

jQuery vs. AngularJS vs. Vue

In addition to React (which is the most popular JavaScript framework today, though jQuery remains the biggest library), there’s also Angular JS and Vue.

AngularJS is better for web application development, whereas jQuery is better for DOM manipulation. But DOM manipulation is largely deprecated today.

Similarly, Vue is seen as an easier-to-use option for web application development, with an intuitive framework and solid documentation. But jQuery is more well-known and accessible.

The core of it is that jQuery is a bit different. jQuery is a set of libraries that’s designed to make JavaScript a little easier to use. React, Angular JS, and Vue are full frameworks built on JavaScript to make it faster and easier to develop applications. 

Are There Any Downsides to Using jQuery?

Why do some people consider jQuery deprecated? Many developers wouldn’t recommend starting a project with jQuery today. But that doesn’t mean that jQuery isn’t a good technology. There are simply a few major downsides to using it:

  • jQuery is huge. Not only is it a massive library that grows over time, but because it isn’t compiled, the entire script is downloaded with the website. This can make websites slow, unwieldy, and difficult to scale.
  • jQuery can make learning JavaScript difficult. If you don’t already know JavaScript, learning jQuery can hinder you because jQuery obscures so much of what is going on “under the hood” of JavaScript. You can learn jQuery from JavaScript, but you can’t learn JavaScript from jQuery.
  • Parts of jQuery are now obsolete. This includes things like the jQuery DOM APIs. The jQuery DOM APIs that are used can make a site feel sluggish or slow to respond, thereby making a website less engaging.

These reasons (and others) are why people have been slowly moving away from jQuery development. But so many websites have already been designed with jQuery that jQuery is going to remain relevant for many years to come.

What is the Current jQuery Version?

At the time of writing, the most current jQuery version is 3.6.0, released on March 2, 2021. This included some bug fixes, compatibility issues, and a “slim” build that addresses some of the performance and size issues that are commonly complained about with jQuery. The “slim” build leaves out modules such as the Ajax and Effects modules, thereby creating a system that is smaller and more scalable. 

There haven’t been many major changes to jQuery since it was first released — but the current jQuery version is extremely well-developed and stable. Although it may have its problems, jQuery has been modified, supported, and improved upon by a large and thriving community over many years.

How to Learn jQuery

Since jQuery is such an important, foundational language, many front-end and full-stack developers may want to learn it. According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a jQuery developer is close to $100,000 a year.

jquery-salary-ziprecruiter

A few ways someone can learn jQuery include:

  • Looking up information online. jQuery is very well-documented, so self-starters can begin learning it simply by installing it on their machine.
  • Reading through jQuery tutorials. jQuery tutorials can be an excellent touchpoint for expanding your knowledge.
  • Getting JavaScript certifications. These don’t just teach you, but also show employers you know what you’re doing.
  • Going through a JavaScript class or bootcamp. Many will cover technologies such as jQuery and React.
  • Answering some jQuery interview questions. These questions will test your knowledge about jQuery and JavaScript. 

     

Conclusion

Hopefully, you now know the answer to the question: What is jQuery? jQuery is a popular JavaScript library designed to make it easier to develop JavaScript web applications. jQuery leverages the power of JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS — all to make slick, clean websites that look attractive and engaging.

Are you ready to start learning? You can start your journey today by signing up for a jQuery online course.

 

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Jenna Inouye

Jenna Inouye

Jenna Inouye has been a full stack developer for two decades, specializing in web application design and development. For the last eight years, she has worked as a news and feature writer focusing on technology and finance, with bylines in Udemy, SVG, and The Gamer. View all posts by the Author

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