What to learn first – jQuery or plain JavaScript?

Trying to figure out the right starting point on how to tackle JavaScript? jQuery seems tempting but all JavaScript pros you know keep telling you it’s important to start from scratch? Understanding the purpose and capabilities of jQuery is the key to figuring out the right time where to dig deeper.

The most important fact to realize is what John Resig, the creator of jQuery, himself tweeted a while back:

Tweet by John Resig


So, jQuery can not substitute JavaScript. It is a framework that helps manipulating the DOM. Nothing more or less. Due to its underlying logic, it enables selecting, sorting, and working with HTML elements with a short snippet of code that works across various browsers. Because of browser specific differences, bugs, and lack of functions in the original DOM API, this normally would require many lines of code. To write it yourself as a newbie will most probably be a frustrating experience because much research and testing has to be done for little outcome.

If you are working on a website that heavily relies on DOM manipulation, starting out using jQuery and looking behind its curtains once you have a more thorough understanding of JavaScript will most definitely be the more rewarding way to go. This still means that you will have to learn to use vanilla JavaScript for all non-DOM operations such as calculations and business logic.

But, if you find yourself using jQuery commands only for a few operations or develop for modern browsers only, it can be a good idea to scratch the framework, which adds quite a bit to your page weight, and walk the extra mile for the sake of performance. Pages like youmightnotneedjquery.com help you to replace jQuery functions with plain JavaScript.



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