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Ten Years of jQuery and Beyond

January 14th, 2016

On the 14th of January 2006, John Resig went to an event called BarCamp NYC to talk about some of the projects he was working on. One of those projects was a JavaScript Library called jQuery. It was the birth of what has become the most widely used JavaScript library ever written.

It’s hard to imagine now, but there were already about a dozen JavaScript libraries around on that day when John announced jQuery, trying to solve basically the same problem. There was no guarantee that yet another library was needed, or that jQuery would go anywhere. Yet slowly and surely over the past decade, jQuery has been widely adopted. It’s hard to find a web developer today who doesn’t know it, or a web page that doesn’t use it.

Code alone isn’t what made jQuery unique and drove its popularity. It took a strong community of users and contributors who pitched in to help newcomers master the library. John made a point of listening carefully to the community and incorporating feedback from those interactions which made both the code and documentation better. jQuery was shaped by the people who used it and appreciated the way it simplified development across multiple browsers. What makes this story even more remarkable is that it all began in an era before Github and StackOverflow!

Based on the experience and community insights that arose from jQuery development, the jQuery Foundation was formed in 2012. It included not only the jQuery projects but tools for other parts of the development lifecycle such as QUnit for testing and Globalize for internationalization. Last year, we joined with the Dojo Foundation and expanded the set of projects we support to include Dojo, Grunt, Lodash and more.

The Foundation continues to be guided by the principles that made jQuery a success and advocating for things like inclusiveness, diversity in teams and empowering contributors to lead within the open source community. As we move into 2016 and the number of projects we support grows, so do the ecosystems being built around those projects. An ecosystem thrives when its projects collaborate and share core principles. By enabling that collaboration, we hope to encourage new ideas and different points of view in open source JavaScript.

In Internet years, a decade is an eternity; web development has changed immensely in that time as has the web itself. Yet the basic formula for success in an open source project has been constant: start with a good idea, adapt it to the needs of users (even as those needs change), and get the community involved in all aspects of the project. Let’s measure our success not in the code that we write, but in what users create using our code and how it inspires them to push the web even further.

Here’s to another decade of awesome open source innovation in JavaScript!