You Don't Need jQuery

There was a time where jQuery was the lord of the land when it came to web apps and DOM manipulation. Today, thanks to the catch-up of web apis, the rise of modern JS libraries and Frameworks, and the fact that modern browsers have a much more consistent implementation of Javascript than before, have rendered the need for jQuery in a massive way (although there are a TON of websites that currently use it).

As sidenote, is it me, or before people prefered to write JavaScript in UpperCamelCase, and know with the fancy -semi offical- black and yellow logo people prefer to write Javascript? Anyway, back to the post.

“The word on the street” on jQuery is so strong, that there even is a whole repo/website called “You might not need jQuery” by @adamfschwartz and @zackbloom with the purpose of showing how simple is today to do things with native tools, and how we should think twice before adding jQuery as a dependency (and if we do, do it informed).

Thanks to an exercise deviced by Gordon Zhu, I got to experience this myself. I recently refactored the jQuery Todo MVC by stripping all use of jQuery in the app, one method at a time. Obviously, the idea was to keep the same functionality. My result is here.

My code has 222 lines vs the 197 that the original with jQuery has, so trading 25 extra lines of code for a whole library seems desirable in my opinion (probably if I went through it again, I could make it more compact and elegant, but the idea was just to safely remove jQuery). So yes, in my experience, you might not need jQuery.


Besides the point of jQuery not being super necessary today (although I hardly ever use it, I think that doing this exercise was the time I’ve been exposed the most to it) this exercise was very good as a forced way of reading source code. In order to refactor it, having an understanding of the code in the first place is quite relevant.

I also got a lot of practice with Chrome’s debugger. I constantly stopped the runtime to take a look at the current state of things, and get a better look at how the methods were working.

Using things like document.getElementById("someId") is very common, but I also got to play around with other methods I don’t frequently use like"li") that finds the closest element with a particular tag (li) in this case, of the element that was targeted throw a particular event. Also the use of getAttribute and setAttribute was cool and powerful (I used it for custom data attributes).

Last learning is: damn getting the correct value of this is still a tricky bussiness for me (specially when working with nested DOM elements). There are plenty of times I make a -in my mind- good argument regarding the value of this, just to be followed by a nonchalant, yer recurring in my programming journey, “WTF”.