jQuery Basics for Beginners

jquerytutorialforbeginnersThe importance of interactive web design has never been more apparent than it is today. JavaScript, PHP, ASP.net and other scripting languages are used very heavily across the Internet to keep sites interesting and fun for visitors.

JavaScript is extremely popular and has been used on websites for years. Its popularity can be attributed to speed, simplicity, and versatility. JavaScript is a client-side scripting language. This means that code functions are run immediately instead of waiting for a server response. This also reduces the server load for high traffic websites.  JavaScript Made Easy shows you how to leverage the power of JavaScript in your web designs.

Compared to other programming and scripting languages, JavaScript is relatively easy to learn and implement into new or existing websites.

JavaScript works well with other programming languages and can be inserted into a webpage regardless of its file extension (.HTML,PHP, etc.). JavaScript even be placed inside scripts written in other languages such as Perl and PHP. This type of versatility is difficult to find anywhere else in the web development world.

Although JavaScript is considered relatively easy, it remains out of reach for developers who rely mostly on HTML and CSS for their web designs. Additionally, there are some cross browser issues with conventional JavaScript that require you to write cross browser compatibility code in addition to the functions your website actually needs.

jQuery is a JavaScript library that addresses this disadvantage by abstracting various browser implementations into a single, easy-to-use API.

But don’t be misled into thinking that jQuery is only for beginners. As many as 54% of the Top 17,000 most visited websites in the world use jQuery for many functions. Compared to only 47% of websites using Flash, it’s clear that experienced developers recognize the benefits of using jQuery as well.

What is jQuery?

As previously mentioned, jQuery is a subset library of JavaScript that does a lot of work “behind-the-scenes” to make scripting tasks easier and more enjoyable.

Some of the tasks jQuery does best include interacting with the Document Object Model (DOM), AJAX requests, and creating effects such as animations. Even though jQuery is not a complete application framework, there are thousands of plug-ins available that allow jQuery to do many things above and beyond its original intentions.

jQuery for Beginners explains many of the basic concepts you need to become proficient in jQuery scripting.

As you become more familiar with JavaScript and the jQuery API, you will discover many new tricks that previously could only be done with complicated JavaScript code or other scripting languages like PHP and Perl.

It’s worth noting that PHP and Perl are both excellent scripting languages used by many platforms including the popular WordPress CMS. Many of the techniques you learn writing JavaScript and jQuery can then be applied to these scripting languages as well.

Once you have mastered jQuery, consider learning some basic PHP techniques as well.

Using jQuery

The first thing you need to do is include the jQuery source code in your website. There are two ways to do this. The first is to download a copy of the source directly and import it from the server each time.

The second method is much easier and reduces strain on the Web server. You can include jQuery from Google’s Content Delivery Network (CDN). This is the better option because your website is guaranteed to be using the latest version of jQuery and of course, it reduces website bandwidth from the server.

Once jQuery is loaded on your webpage, you can begin using it. If you have any experience using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), you should be right at home using jQuery because it allows you to easily manipulate HTML elements in the same way you would using CSS.

If you’re not familiar with CSS or are interested in a refresher course, make sure you check out CSS Made Easy.

JQuery relies on a CSS selector engine known as Sizzle. Basically, this means that any selector used in your stylesheet gets applied to the DOM and can be manipulated using jQuery.

One thing that many beginning jQuery users don’t realize is that the browser has to parse the entire HTML and DOM hierarchy before visitors can interact with the website. If you query the DOM before it’s ready, your website may not work properly. Although it’s easy to blame jQuery for this problem, it’s relatively easy to fix.

The best way to avoid these issues is to use the jQuery method $(document) .ready ( ). By placing your jQuery scripts with in this method, you ensure that visitors do not interact with an element before the DOM is ready.

The best way to learn how to use jQuery is to practice. The AJAX support in jQuery is excellent and allows you to easily pull in data asynchronously for your site. AJAX Development explains this concept in more detail. Animation is also very simple using jQuery and can add some really interesting effects to new websites and existing designs.

There are so many cool things you can do with jQuery that you may find many other scripting options unnecessary for most websites. Known as the “write less, do more” JavaScript library, jQuery allows novice and experienced developers alike to create interactive designs that decrease server load while improving the user experience (UX). If you are interested in learning about other ways to improve UX, check out User Experience Design Fundamentals.

So – what are you waiting for? Start using jQuery today and learn how easy it is to improve your existing HTML/CSS-based designs.