The Year of jQuery UI

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Two years ago I made the somewhat immodest claim that 2007 would be the “Year of jQuery.” Since then, jQuery‘s popularity has grown in ways that none of the core contributors could have imagined. Now I’m ready to make another bold pronouncement: 2009 will be the year of jQuery UI. Here’s why:

  • jQuery UI 1.6 is shaping up to be a rock-solid re-factoring of the entire library. With RC4 released just two days ago, the UI team have further cleaned up the API while providing a set of tools that are even more extensible and configurable than they were before.
  • Better project management and greater transparency. Over the last year or so, Paul Bakaus has done much more than lead the development of jQuery UI. He has shaped and nurtured a team of top-notch JavaScript developers and has opened up a lot of the decision-making process to outside scrutiny. This bodes well for the direction of the project.
  • Improved jQuery UI ThemeRoller. ThemeRoller, developed and designed by the folks at Filament Group, was already an amazingly useful and elegant complement to jQuery UI. But now it’s even better, with a much-improved CSS framework and lighter CSS footprint, a slick default theme, a cool icon sprite set, and more configuration options. Also, it’ll soon be easier than ever to create your own UI widgets that take advantage of the ThemeRoller — with upcoming tools, documentation, and tutorials for making your site “ThemeRoller-ready.”
  • Improved documentation and demos. The documentation wiki has undergone some significant updates in recent months, and the demos went through a complete overhaul in coordination with the 1.6rc4 release.
  • More widespread adoption. As the API changes settle down and the core UI developers have more time to spend on providing more widgets and components, such as a spinner, menu, and colorpicker, more sites are sure to join the likes of WordPress in adopting jQuery UI.
  • A new blog. While most of the details are still under wraps, a brand new weblog dedicated to learning jQuery UI, similar in quality and scope to Learning jQuery, will be online soon.

I have had the great pleasure to use jQuery UI on a couple recent projects, and I can honestly say that it has come a long way since its first release a year and a half ago. If you haven’t used the UI library before, now is a great time to start. If my prediction comes true, you’ll be at the forefront of a major trend.


I failed to mention that the new blog will be run by jQuery UI developer Richard D. Worth. In addition to being a great developer, Richard does an awesome job of promoting and explaining jQuery UI. I’m really looking forward to seeing the good stuff he’ll be posting soon.

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  1. I had wondered if you were going to do a separate site for JQuery UI or not. It’s definitely a good idea, since it seems JQuery users learn quite a bit more from your articles than the basic documentation.

  2. redsquare

    karl, After seeing the revised code, css and features I could not agree more. it feels quicker, runs smoother and looks easier to develop against. Can wait for the new blog

  3. I believe your prediction will come true and I expect to be among the first ones using jQuery UI.
    Will jQuery, along with its UI components, be the ‘de facto’ standard for developing GUI?

  4. Bhaarat

    What happened to the old demos??? I remember that jquery ui had demos where they would open up in seperate page. there was one particular demo that i loved. where a slide bar was controlling boxes with numbers on them. I liked the old demos much better!

  5. Rob

    I believe! lol jQuery kicks ass for simple designers like me :D

    I want it to look pretty now! jQuery delivers that!

    Awesome site, I shall be here alot :D

  6. Steve

    I had to stop dead in my tracks with the latest jQuery since jQuery’s own tabview wasn’t working with it.

    Not sure if it’s all been fixed but that was of big concerned for me, since I use jQuery plugin’s extensively and jQuery’s very own controls weren’t functioning.

    I hope some backward compatibility is critical, I don’t have time to re-write all my websites all the time, that is why I use jQuery to begin with – to save me development time :)

  7. Jeffrey Way

    Plus – Packt has a new jQuery UI book coming out this month, by Dan Wellman.

  8. Judy

    I work for a web design firm that specializes in user interface web design. I recently read an article in a magazine published int he UK called practical web design that I found very articulate and helpful in terms of key UI tips. One of the tips in this article was about using static sketches as a first step to good UI. Doing so allows you to design an application from the outside in, which is the way users will access it.

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