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The State of jQuery 2014

January 13th, 2014

The year 2013 was an incredibly exciting one for jQuery. As jQuery celebrates eight years of supporting web developers, it’s time for our annual review. I’m pleased to say that we achieved a lot in 2013 and have some great plans for 2014!

New Leadership

In November, Kris Borchers became Executive Director of the jQuery Foundation as successor to Richard Worth. Kris has been a jQuery Foundation board member and a long-time jQuery contributor, so he understands the mission of the Foundation well. We welcome Kris, and thank Richard for his work in shepherding the Foundation through its first full year of existence.

jQuery used by 68% of the top 100k sites

Continuing Growth

It seems impossible to believe there are still web sites that don’t use jQuery, but the statistics at builtwith.com show there are fewer and fewer of them. jQuery’s core library is used by more than 61 percent of the top 100,000 sites, up 10 percent from last year. Growth is also strong in other jQuery Foundation projects such as jQuery UI, which is now used by nearly one-fifth of top-10,000 web sites.

New Environments

jQuery is also used in a lot of places that can’t be identified through a web crawl. You’ll find jQuery anywhere web technologies are used, not just the public Internet. That includes Google Chrome add-ons, Mozilla XUL apps and Firefox extensions, Firefox OS apps, Chrome OS apps, Windows 8 Store apps, BlackBerry 10 WebWorks apps, PhoneGap/Cordova apps, and Node.js. By supporting these technologies, we’ve made it possible to take advantage of jQuery knowledge in many places other than just browsers and web pages.

Future-Oriented

In January 2013, we released jQuery 1.9; then jQuery 2.0 was released in April. These two versions dumped old APIs that were making jQuery bigger, slower, and harder to use. jQuery 2.0 went a step further and dropped support for environments that don’t support newer standards, such as Internet Explorer before version 9. From an API standpoint, the two behave identically, though; web developers can update to the 2.x branch whenever those older versions of IE are no longer important to their web pages or apps.

Backwards-Compatible

We knew that removing some old functionality from jQuery core could make migration slow and difficult; after all, a lot of code on web sites was written years ago and the people who wrote it are long gone. That’s why we created the jQuery Migrate plugin to identify code that was using the features we removed. Better than that, it allowed most of that old code to continue to work by shimming in the old behavior. It’s a great tool for keeping a site running while things are being updated, although we don’t advise using it for a long-term fix.

jQuery Served Your Way

With jQuery being used in so many environments, we want to make sure it fits with their workflows and conventions. So, we’re adapting by making jQuery available on both the npm and Bower package managers. This makes it easy for just about any JavaScript-based project to keep jQuery dependencies up to date. Last year’s refactor of jQuery core into small modules also lets developers create a custom build that removes features a project doesn’t need, to reduce the download size.

Keeping it Simple

We haven’t forgotten, however, that most developers keep things simple and just include a copy of the standard jQuery build using a <script> tag. So in 2013 we upgraded our content delivery network (CDN) thanks to a generous donation from MaxCDN. The jQuery CDN is now better than ever and supports the https protocol for delivering all files.

Advocating for Developer Needs

jQuery’s use of a convenient and browser-independent layer around the cumbersome DOM interfaces is one reason for its popularity. As Simon St. Laurent put it, “jQuery is how the web routes around broken API design.” But we don’t want the the DOM API repair business to be our full-time line of work. People should be continuing to use jQuery because it’s a powerful way to implement designs and provides a vibrant ecosystem of useful plugins, not because the native DOM APIs are broken, verbose, or inconsistent. That’s why we participate in the standards process through bodies such as the W3C and ECMA.

Let’s Keep Innovating!

Over the next few days, posts on this blog will be counting the ways that the jQuery Foundation is improving the web developer community, in keeping with our mission. If you see something that interests you, we invite you to get in touch with us and participate!

Dave Methvin

President, jQuery Foundation