6 things you need to know about jQuery

Based on the manipulation of the HTML Document Object Model (DOM) and designed to simplify the client-side scripting of HTML, jQuery incorporates parts of HTML and CSS. Thousands of companies are on the jQuery bandwagon-and your company should be, too.

Let's look at why jQuery is making such an impact on the enterprise level.

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1. jQuery Promotes Simplicity.

Developers find jQuery intuitive and easy to learn-this library is built on shorter, simpler code, after all. With simple syntax and open coding standards, developers can shorten the time it takes to deploy an application or site.

In addition, developers don't have to be experts in programming or Web design to create great styles for your site. Any developer who has spent hours coding and testing CSS files will surely appreciate the simple implementation that jQuery brings to the table. There's also a set of robust jQuery UI components that developers can plug into their websites.

2. jQuery Elements Display Even When JavaScript is Disabled.

If Adobe Flash isn't installed on any given browser, certain parts of the page may render incorrectly, if they render at all. This is not only unpleasant for the user; it forces developers to spend extra time "coding" for the browsers that lack the Flash plug-in, which adds to development time.

Analysis: Adobe Flash vs. HTML5

Not so with jQuery. Manipulating the HTML DOM has become the most widely accepted practice of manipulating a Web page so content will be rendered even if JavaScript is disabled in the browser. Since the HTML DOM is always present, there's no more worrying about browser settings either.

Furthermore, developing using jQuery can reduce instances of HelpDesk tickets. Your helpdesk will appreciate that your developers are coding proactively to avoid dreaded "browser crashes."

3. jQuery Easily Integrates With the Visual Studio IDE.

NuGet is a Visual Studio extension that makes it easy to add, remove and update libraries and tools in Visual Studio projects that use the .NET Framework. NuGet has been around for years, and it's a trusted source for developers to exchange and develop packages for Microsoft Visual Studio.

Visual Studio 2010 supports the integration of the jQuery library via the "Manage NuGet Packages" dialog box. This activates the Intellisense feature of Visual Studio, which gives the developer immediate access to jQuery methods and syntax without having to leave code view to do research. There isn't a better tool to work in a Microsoft-based .NET environment.

In general, most .NET developers use Visual Studio and are familiar with NuGet. This is part of the reason why jQuery's popularity continues to grow with .NET developers. With the addition of the jQuery mobile theme for Windows, you now have all the development benefits of the jQuery library available for the Windows Phone platform.

Microsoft is showing that it's serious about HTML5, which includes a lot of jQuery elements, by promoting the use of jQuery libraries that the HTML5 crowd has adopted. Microsoft is encouraging the use of jQuery-not only in mobile development but also in new Metro-style UI apps.

4. jQuery Makes Animated Applications Just Like Flash.

Flash developers are not cheap. Developing in Flash requires a huge learning curve; for the average developer, it can take years of practice to be able to create the movie-like creations that made Flash famous. On the other hand, jQuery is free and requires only the knowledge of JavaScript and HTML.

Let's say you can afford your software and your Flash developer. He or she still has to code for browsers and platforms that don't support Flash and for audiences that will not be able to view your Flash content. This is one of the biggest drawbacks of building a Flash-only website-and one of the biggest advantages of building in HTML 5.

Meanwhile, jQuery uses a combination of CSS, HTML, JavaScript and Ajax. These are all markup-based technologies that are meant to work well together. This means you can apply an optimization strategy to your site without having to make special adjustments for technologies such as Flash. Bottom line: you can achieve great-looking effects that will keep your audience engaged.

For interesting examples of the kind of animation that can be achieved using HTML5 and jQuery, check out the boostinspiration.com feature HTML5 Websites: 10 Flash Killing Examples.

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