If you’re a developer and you’ve not been hiding in a rabbit hole for the past 3 years then you’d be familiar with the buzz words of our today : ajax, social, user experience etc, these are all powered by Web 2.0, another loose term used to describe the “new wave” in web development, a paradigm long overdue.
The web has witnessed tremendous growth, from the gory days of the browser wars to the several W3C standards c’tees often dashing our hopes with standards that were either not adopted or poorly implemented by vendors, through to the proliferation of glorified hacks by developers or their numerous communities, all attempts to fix the web and make it a more robust platform. All these good-bad-and-ugly has led us to where we are today, and I can say (with hind sight) that happy days are here again.
Today, we develop with superb IDE’s and powerful frameworks / libraries that have abstractions that normalize browser differences and put in our hands the requisite tools to build today’s mission critical apps. We really don’t have to debate over the significance of a library, especially since we must deliver critical functionality packaged with unobtrusive but intuitive and responsive UI. This is made even daunting by the fact that user experience or expectation evolves, just as Eddie Murphy’s Coming To America don’t stand a chance with Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons as best movie of the year (2009), so does HiFive (by several opinions) not stand a chance with the Google Docs or Facebook or our day. The reason is simple and short, these recent expressions of ingenuity have raised the bar and pushed user expectation on deliverables even deeper, forcing the art of creativity (including web development) to be more involved.
The issue now is making the case for the library of choice, and for Ajax today, this judgment call is difficult without a bias, trust me!
Ok, some of the factors to consider include : functionality (of course), stability, documentation, collaboration / support, ease of use / development and very importantly, extensibility. For me, the case is settled, it’s JQuery for sites and site-like apps and ExtJS for true Web 2.0 webapps, especially those that have to look and behave like desktop apps.
JQuery’s tiny footprint, ease of development and superb pluggability is a bait you’d be willing to take, and by any standard, Ext’s just blows you away with their gorgeous UI, look-and-feel, and widgets, and a very solid and carefully designed component architecture, on which tomorrows demanding apps can thrive.
When it’s time to make your judgment call, do make an informed one. Cheers.