Web Development Your Choice

Love me some jQuery

I’ve been a Web Developer for quite some time, but within the last few months I’ve been using jQuery and it’s so cool that it will most likely find its way into any and every website I work on.

If you’ve visited a website and observed “Wow, that’s a slick-looking info window” (as opposed to those boring and obnoxious framed popup windows that we immediately dismiss coz they are product ads/spam, or other crap) –

the window was quite possibly coded using some jQuery magic.

Want cool Navigation menuing? jQuery got it.  Want to add Client-Side validation to your HTML Forms with far, far less lines of javascript code? jQuery can do it.  A Tabbed interface, transitions, fades, AJAX-Based form posts? jQuery, jQuery,jQuery, and oh… jQuery.

What is jQuery?

jQuery's website is titled "jQuery: The Write Less, Do More, JavaScript Library"

And you can believe it when they say you will be doing more with less (code).  The part about being cross-browser is true, after a fashion.  I say that because, as a Web Developer, it is still incumbent upon you to check your site/application in as many browsers as possible (just like regular javascript).  Now, since I am a recent convert (and definitely a fan of jQuery), it does take the headache out of doing client-side programming.

For close to a year now, I’ve been either modifying existing jQuery UI elements (such as accordions) or have been adding tabbed interfaces or wonderful modal dialogs to my applications.  If you’re not using jQuery (or another library) to help with your code development, I suggest you do so, it will make your life easier.

Are there tools that can help me learn jQuery?

Yes, there are quite a few, and to list all of them would be for another post (or another blog site) for another day.  For now, I’ll share with you two tools that have helped me.

One of them you probably know about, the IRC (Internet Relay Chat) you can join the jquery channel, there are lots of active users there, willing to help.  Like any IRC channel, be prepared to explain what you’re doing, how you’re trying to do it, and of course, don’t be a fool.  These people are there to help you help yourself.  They are not your personal tech/coding support, so don’t foster any expectations of the people there.  In other words, follow the usual IRC etiquette of asking your question to the entire room/channel/group, and not in I-M style to a single individual who has helped you before.  As I have experienced (yes, I’m sharing a lesson learned the “not-so-easy-way” that just because someone helps you out once or twice in the channel, that they are NOT your go-to resource when something else on a project has you stumped.

The other tool that I have found invaluable when testing out jQuery code for functionality and cross-browser support is jsfiddle.  Imagine you’re working on a Web-based project for a Client.  The Client is paying for (among other things) a level of confidentiality that you would not want to violate at any time for any reason.  When asking for help at the jQuery channel, it is highly likely that someone will ask to see your “fiddle” (sounds kinda personal and creepy LOL) and why would they want to see it??  I’ll tell you why.  It’s a way for other developers to see your code and approach, laid out in an easy-to-see (and update) format.  A few times that I’ve gotten help came from someone pointing out (either by comment or by direct edit) a mistake in either my syntax or approach.  jsfiddle also separates your code sample from the rest of your application and that usually lends itself to a faster solution than sharing an entire script file with someone you really don’t know.