Both JavaScript and jQuery work together in web development. In short, the difference between these two is that JavaScript is a programming language, and jQuery is a library built on JavaScript.

Although jQuery doesn’t add any new functionality that JavaScript doesn’t already have, there are benefits to using it. jQuery can help simplify everyday tasks in JavaScript, like DOM manipulation and event handling.

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a versatile programming language used by developers for a range of different purposes. From front-end and back-end web development to AI and game development.

Due to its flexible coding capabilities, which are only limited by the developer’s imagination, it’s no wonder an incredible 63% of developers use JavaScript. It follows industry standards and supports different programming styles, such as procedural, object-oriented, and functional programming.

With JavaScript, developers use specific words, symbols, and instructions to perform actions, manipulate data, and control how a program runs.

What is jQuery?

If JavaScript is words and symbols, then jQuery is like a book that combines it into a story. It extends the capabilities of JavaScript by providing a collection of pre-written code snippets.

With jQuery, developers can streamline common web development operations and reduce the amount of lines of code needed. It focuses on simplifying HTML document traversal (finding and manipulating HTML elements), event handling (responding to user actions), and animation.

This can sometimes be a little limiting as there isn’t the same level of flexibility or unique operations as using JavaScript. That being said, it is still a useful tool, especially for repetitive tasks.

Key Considerations: JavaScript and jQuery.

Vanilla, or Plain, JavaScript refers to writing code directly in JavaScript without relying on external libraries like jQuery. While jQuery offers a user-friendly approach with ready-to-use code, vanilla JavaScript gives developers more control and flexibility.

With vanilla JavaScript, developers can implement custom solutions tailored to their project needs. This flexibility comes with a trade-off of writing more code compared to using jQuery’s shorthand methods.

Syntax and Ease of Use.

JavaScript’s syntax is powerful and flexible, allowing developers to build complex applications. However, it can sometimes be more long-winded compared to jQuery.

JavaScript may require writing more lines of code to achieve specific tasks, especially when manipulating HTML elements. jQuery offers a more concise and intuitive syntax that simplifies common operations.

This ease of use can benefit beginners or developers who prefer a more streamlined coding experience.

JavaScript code example
document.getElementById(“myElement”).style.display = “none”;

jQuery code example

In the above example, both code snippets get an ID on an element and hide it from the user. Ultimately, they complete the same task but JavaScript requires more detailed coding and is therefore open to more errors.

Although this is a short example, imagine lines of code on a page. Having twice the amount of code would take twice as long to investigate if it were incorrect. Especially as a missed symbol could cause the whole code to become redundant.

Cross-Browser Compatibility.

One of jQuery’s significant advantages is its ability to handle inconsistencies across different web browsers. This is especially true as vanilla JavaScript code may require additional checks and adjustments to ensure compatibility across browsers.

jQuery provides a unified API that abstracts these browser differences, making development more streamlined. With JavaScript, developers can implement browser-specific optimisations and fine-tune their code for specific requirements.

As such, they both have their benefits and pitfalls when it comes to cross-browser compatibility. This is why it’s essential to become proficient with JavaScript and jQuery.

Functionality and Features.

JavaScript comes with a comprehensive set of features and functionalities as standard. It provides developers extensive control over web page elements and allows for custom implementations tailored to specific project needs.

As mentioned above, jQuery builds upon JavaScript and offers additional functionality through its library of pre-written code. This library provides shortcuts and simplified methods for the more common tasks like AJAX requests, DOM manipulation, and event handling.

While jQuery can speed up development, it may not cover every niche requirement, which is where being proficient in JavaScript will have its benefits.

When to Choose JavaScript and jQuery

Choosing between vanilla JavaScript and jQuery will depend on the specific project requirements and personal preferences. That being said, being proficient in both does have its advantages.

JavaScript is great for projects that demand custom functionalities, intricate business logic, or where specific features are not readily available in jQuery. It gives developers complete control over the code and enables them to optimise performance and address unique challenges.

jQuery excels in scenarios that call for rapid development, repetitive tasks, or simplifying more common operations. It can be particularly useful when working on small or medium-sized projects with straightforward requirements.

While jQuery has been widely used and praised for its convenience, it’s important to consider the disadvantages before ditching vanilla JavaScript altogether. Performance overhead, increased file size, learning curve, dependency on jQuery, and niche requirements must be considered.

Evaluating your project’s specific needs will help you decide whether to rely on jQuery’s simplicity or harness the flexibility and control offered by vanilla JavaScript. Don’t be fooled into thinking that jQuery is the easy option and ignoring the possibilities offered by JavaScript.

Remember, the choice between jQuery and JavaScript depends on your project’s requirements, development goals, and trade-offs. By understanding the drawbacks of using jQuery, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your project’s needs and optimise your web development processes accordingly.

Fortunately, our team has expert knowledge of JavaScript and jQuery. If you need help with your next project, contact us to see what our development team can do for you.