The Year of jQuery UI

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.

Update:

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.