These are the slides from a talk I gave on the 12th October 2012 at Points Brighton, a small evening conference for web developers and designers. They will be slightly out of context on their own so I've written a bit about what I spoke about to try and give them some.
I find the best talks at web events aren't necessarily those that tell you stuff you don't know, but present whatever they have in a provocative way, to make the audience think. I’d rather try and achieve that than dig through some code you’ll have forgotten about after the third beer (Points is an evening event so we had a few).
So the provocation was, imagine what would happen if there was somehow a way to delete jQuery from the entire internet? Obviously this couldn't happen, but perhaps it would make you think about why you use jQuery, what you use it for and what you might do if you couldn't use it.
That took us up to the present day, where research has shown that around 25 million websites now use jQuery, or roughly 40% of the top 1 million by traffic. 2 million-ish on MooTools, 1.5 million on jQuery UI.
But the jQuery pattern is compelling. And once you're comfortable with something its a bit of an effort to force yourself out of that comfort zone and learn. But looking back I've relearned pretty much everything I do since I started, probably several times, so its worth keeping in mind that learning and trying new things is how development has advanced to where it is now and how it will keep advancing in the future.
In the end this lead me to Ender, which is billed as a NPM-style package manager for the browser, letting you search for and manage small, loosely-coupled modules and their dependencies and compile them to one file with a common API.
So while there is still a place for jQuery, and still a lot that anyone can learn, I do think it really pays to look at what you need, and what your chosen libraries are doing, in order to get the best out of them and the best coding environment for you.
I should probably point out that since coming up with the idea for this talk that jQuery has switched to a modular build from version 1.8, which means you can now pick and choose what you want from it, but at the time of writing this is not immediately apparent to the casual user.