A look at TheServerSide.com's 2010 Java survey results might suggest that jQuery is gaining in the Ajax market. Over 50 percent of readers have used jQuery as of 2010, versus about 25 percent in 2008. This gives the impression that users are beginning to abandon other frameworks in favor of jQuery. But it's important to keep in mind that many developers use more than one framework and that Ajax frameworks aren't really competing with each other.
"I don't really think jQuery is pulling a lot of people away from other frameworks, but rather growing the market," said Aaron Newton, an Ajax developer and major proponent of MooTools.
For larger enterprises, there's no single framework. Each team uses what's best for them. The applications might be built with Closure or Dojo, and the homepage might be built with jQuery.
Dylan Schiemann, CEO, SitePen,
Other participants in the Ajax framework world agree.
jQuery proponent Ralph Whitbeck said, "There is plenty of room [in the Ajax market] for multiple libraries."
Meanwhile Dojo proponent Dylan Schiemann explained that, "For larger enterprises, there's no single framework. Each team uses what's best for them. The applications might be built with Closure or Dojo, and the homepage might be built with jQuery."
Whatcha know, Dojo?
Dylan Schiemann is one of the founders of Dojo and the CEO of SitePen, Inc., a consulting company with a focus on helping enterprises with support for Dojo. He is in no way displeased by jQuery's success. Dojo's success is exceeding Schiemann's expectations. "That jQuery can exceed even that is amazing," he said.
The idea of any one framework 'winning the race' is a moot point. According to Schiemann, "If one open source platform were to win, it would defeat the whole point of open source – which is freedom of choice and information." He said different frameworks are targeting different niches within the broader Ajax developer niche.
According to Newton, jQuery's growing popularity "doesn't mean that other frameworks aren't growing, it just means that jQuery is attracting a segment of the market that didn't exist before. jQuery is a fine language abstraction for the DOM, but that's about where it stops; it's not a programming framework and if you wanted to build something beyond its scope it's not going to help you. This isn't a deficiency of jQuery; it's just outside the scope of their mission."
The programming frameworks like Dojo and Prototype may tend more toward application developers – many of them Java developers – who want a broad toolset that provides functionality for complex programming, while jQuery leans toward use among Web page builders.
According to Ralph Whitbeck, a central figure on the jQuery developer relations team, jQuery's popularity can be attributed mostly to the jQuery community, but also to the jQuery team's successful marketing efforts. Whitbeck is a co-author of the jQuery Cookbook and co-host of the official jQuery podcast. Whitbeck said that he feels jQuery has the most active and passionate user-base out of any he's seen. In addition, the jQuery team has been "very good at getting the product in front of people – making it really easy for users to pick it up and run with it."
Making the DOM easier
Clearly, however, jQuery is experiencing significant momentum.
"I definitely feel like jQuery is the leading framework these days," said Matt Raible, Web architect. "On my last three projects I've used GWT and jQuery. While GWT is a lot easier for Java developers, jQuery is loved by Web Developers."