6 Reasons Why jQuery Is a Great Framework

Many years ago, when I first began to learn .NET, a colleague told me that his project manager once made the claim that anytime you go to develop a software component in the .NET framework, make sure Microsoft hasn’t already developed it. This was around the time of transition from ASP to ASP.NET, and the .NET Framework represented this mass of new components and potential opportunity for us. There was so much to learn about the framework that, in a lot of scenarios, it did meet our development needs. While the framework wasn’t the “Swiss army knife” for every situation, it certainly achieved what it was supposed to: the building blocks for developers to develop great code rapidly.

I believe you can make the same claim today about the jQuery JavaScript library. JavaScript libraries have evolved enough over the years to become highly-functional frameworks, and jQuery is at the top. Major corporations adopted it in its web applications, as well as the community at large. jQuery has become a part of Visual Studio in many ways, including the ASP.NET MVC application template. Stephen Walther blogged recently about how Microsoft is looking to replace features of its client-side development framework with jQuery. It’s also embedded within several third-party ASP.NET AJAX products. Check out six things that I think make jQuery an all-around useful framework.

 1. Easy to Use and Easy to Learn

A co-worker of mine recently started to use jQuery, and was able to utilize it in a very short period of time. jQuery is very easy to learn because it does so much in a few statements. The documentation on jquery.com is very good, and the huge online community and samples can help you get through the rest.

 2. Code Minimalization and Readability

I recently refactored an ASP.NET page with 2300 lines of JavaScript. With jQuery I could chain 4 to 5 lines of JavaScript code into one jQuery statement chained together. More importantly, it reduced the total character count, which is helpful because not all users use high-speed Internet.

 3. Performance

JQuery performs very well, regardless of whether we are talking about DOM traversal, its UI components, or even its animation capabilities. A friend of mine raved over the drag-and-drop feature, and how jQuery can do so much so quickly with two simple method calls generated from two script files.

 4. AJAX Support

jQuery can invoke the same server-side objects from the client that the ASP.NET AJAX framework can. jQuery can call web services, load contents from user controls, and inject them into web forms, or invoke action methods in MVC and replace/swap part of the UI with a rendered partial view.

 5. Plugins and Extensibility

There is a jQuery plugins section on the website with thousands of third-party plugins developed over the years. In addition, some developers have posted their add-ons on their personal sites and not within jquery.com. To paraphrase an adage from Apple, “There’s a plugin for that.”

Plugins are becoming more advanced, too. For example, recently I ran into the Full Calendar plugin (http://arshaw.com/fullcalendar/), a client-side scheduling component that functions a lot like the Telerik RadScheduler control.  Although the jQuery equivalent is not quite as powerful, it does have a lot of features, and possibly provides a company with an alternative to purchasing a product, when the company is trying to stay ahead in this economic time.

 6. Business Application Support

Organizing your scripts efficiently can be challenging; creating your business components as a jQuery plugin or widget can enhance the maintenance of your code, group logic together into a single component, and add reusability to your application. Other features, like linking data to HTML elements through the data() method, really add benefits for components that generate the client in the UI through JavaScript.

As the world moves toward Web 2.0, an open web, and rich client-side development, jQuery is another tool, the Swiss army knife if you will, that developers need to stay ahead of the game.

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