The end of the road for jQuery?



Posted on 16 Mar 2020, by Joseph D'Souza

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When I first learnt the ropes of the jQuery framework and marvelled at the new possibilities it offered to me back in 2010, I couldn't imagine a day when it would become redundant. Since then it has been a staple to pretty much every website I've worked on, whether as a direct dependency or as an indirect dependency from another library or framework I've used.

jQuery: The student becomes the master, then the student again...

jQuery turns 14 this summer and it has reached the heights of such great success that it was inevitable we would see it influence other areas of the web through the years. JavaScript itself, the language jQuery is written in, now has many of the utilities and features once unique to jQuery built into it. And, with pretty much all modern major browsers fully supporting JavaScript ES6, the question for whether the dependency is really needed anymore is starting to be asked. (Sorry Internet Explorer users, it's not a major browser anymore! It's time to move to Edge 14 or another browser!)

One of the main blocking factors outside of simply "switching to JavaScript ES6" is that; because it is so popular and reliable, jQuery is used by many other modern popular libraries as a dependency. I am a big fan of the Bootstrap framework and the Slick slider, both of which presently have a dependency to jQuery. On top of this, Word Press websites (and many of it's plugins) still heavily rely on jQuery.

Hang on, did someone say Bootstrap?

This year we're expecting to be welcoming a jQuery-less Bootstrap 5 into the world. For many developers this is a key framework and certainly one of the big boys. The actions of one framework/library might not seem like the end of jQuery, but this feels like the beginning of what will likely become a trend with many other popular jQuery based frameworks and libraries too. Especially those who have the developer resource available for this kind of transition.

It may yet still be some time until we see a jQuery free WordPress system, but I can easily conceive the idea of a jQuery free Umbraco system this year at the earliest. We are a performance conscious development agency and dropping a 30kb~ dependency is a saving that would boost our page load times enough to have us more than a little interested.

Joseph D'Souza
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