Should You Learn jQuery?


jQuery is a coding essential used widely for decades, with companies such as Twitter, Hootsuite, and Kickstarter using it in various applications. While it was a popular language some years ago, modern browsers have superseded its applications. Despite a drop in its popularity, web developers still debate the current relevance of this JavaScript library. That said, to decide if you should learn jQuery or not, you should understand its history and functionality.

What is jQuery?

Before highlighting the changes that dimmed jQuery’s popularity, why did it become popular initially? For starters, jQuery came into sight when JavaScript applications had no traction. In the early 2000s, JavaScript language was used to build slideshows and other icons appearing inside a page, such as date pickers and image gallery. Then, JavaScript wasn’t powerful enough to handle several tasks without being excessively slow.

John Resig created jQuery in 2006, primarily as a JavaScript library. At that time, Internet Explorer was the popular browser as modern browsers such as Google Chrome were not in the vicinity.

Unfortunately, the old browsers read and implemented JavaScript differently, leading to several interoperability issues. The creation of jQuery eliminated cross-browser standardization issues and quirks by creating an abstraction layer that handled all the workarounds.

jQuery allowed users to select DOM elements using CSS selector syntax, offering a smooth and consistent surface for running DOM manipulations, AJAX requests, and animations. The ease of use, cross-browser compatibility, and neat syntax quickly made jQuery a popular language of choice for most front-end developers. It surged in popularity past existing libraries, such as Scriptaculous, Prototype, and Mootools.

With its developing popularity, developers quickly took it up and rolled out several plugins and front-end plugins relying on jQuery. Currently, there are minimal browsers with compatibility issues, which explains the slow usage of jQuery. Even then, jQuery remains an important relic of the past worthy of debate. Besides, some people still use it daily. Therefore, as the JavaScript landscape continues changing, it is still important to know how jQuery can help.

Changes That Affected jQuery

Advancing technology led to several changes that affected the popularity of jQuery. For starters, JavaScript became a mature coding language. The introduction of new APIAs enabled web developers to achieve similar results with vanilla JavaScript. For instance, the Selectors API made it easier to select DOM elements.

Several other contributors made jQuery lose its uniqueness. As mentioned, the maturity of JavaScript as a language played a significant role. Other factors, such as the introduction of new APIs, development of modern browsers, such as Firefox and Google Chrome that implemented JavaScript consistently, also led to the decline of jQuery usage. With time, advanced JavaScript libraries and frameworks became an emerging trend. Modern technologies, such as React, Angular JS, and VueJS, made jQuery obsolete.

However, even as jQuery gradually lost its grounds, the library is still relevant. This is because the new technologies were frameworks and not libraries. jQuery was a library, which is simply a collection of functions. On the other hand, new developments, such as Angular JS, were programming frameworks. As such, their use cases never overlapped each other completely.

Should You Learn or Use jQuery?

It is important that you choose the right tools and technology when working in the web development realm. This involves your choice of a programming language, framework, and library. Therefore, despite the declining popularity, jQuery is an amazing library with elegant chaining methods. You should consider using jQuery when working with simple WordPress websites with fewer interactions when developing a website or apps targeting old browsers, or working with plugins that depend on jQuery. That said, if you decide to learn jQuery, consider taking an online course. In some cases, financial aid may be available to you. For example, a number of online coding courses accept G.I Bill benefits.