jQuery 3.2.1 Is Out - Do We Still Care?
Written by Ian Elliot   
Thursday, 23 March 2017

jQuery 3.2.1 has just been released only a few days after 3.2.0. It raises the question of whether or not jQuery is still relevant?


jQuery is JavaScript's standard library but these days more and more people are writing blog posts along the lines of "You don't need jQuery - plain old JavaScript is enough". Part of the reason for this seems to be the rise of the big frameworks that do everything and relieve you of the chore of thinking about what is going on deeper down, part seems to be the new-found power of CSS making it possible to do things that jQuery was once needed for, and part is just that it is good to kick against the establishment. 

So far all of the statistics regarding jQuery use don't reveal any sudden drop in popularity or use of the library. It is still the number one JavaScript library and usage seems to be still increasing. 

One big problem with jQuery is that it can be difficult to find out exactly what its advantages are. The big up-front claim is that jQuery smooths out the differences between browsers and as far as I'm concerned this is enough justification for using it. Today many of its critics are under the impression that they only  have to code for Chrome or that modern browsers have ironed out their differences - they haven't. The idea that you can code using jQuery and if it doesn't work on one of the supported browsers the jQuery team will fix it, is a huge advantage. 

As well as smoothing out differences, jQuery also provides extensions to the usual behavior that are not at all well known. Most critics focus on some small aspect of jQuery - usually the selectors or perhaps Ajax. Of course, modern browsers have implemented a universal selector function and this is taken as evidence that you don't need jQuery. The simplicity of using Ajax directly is also pointed out, but both ideas miss the fact that jQuery extends what you can do and makes it easy to do difficult things. For example, jQuery reimplements the JavaScript/DOM event system to make it much more powerful. As well as the usual bubbling events, we also have delegated events, which allow a parent element to provide the event handler for all children of a particular type, even if they don't exist at the time the handler is atatched. 

jQuery tends not to explain what it is doing for you and hence my guess is that many programmers use features that they assume are the way the browser works without jQuery. 

So what was new in 3.2.0?

The simple answer is "not much" and this is good.

The only new notable feature is an extension to the way the css function works. It can now access CSS custom properties. In case you have missed, it you can now add CSS custom properties which all begin with two dashes  --myCustomProperty. Notice that the css function already did more than you might have expected, in that it returned css computed properties.

More of a nusiance is the deprecation of holdReady, nodeName and isArray. Removal of outmoded parts of jQuery is essential to keeping the code base small, but the cost is that we have to keep on returning to our code and changing the way things are done. 

There is even less that is new in 3.2.1 as it is just a bug fix for bugs introduced in 3.2.0 - unfortunate but it happens.

It is easy to be critical of jQuery but it is still JavaScript's standard library.


  • Ian Elliot is the author of  Just jQuery: The Core UI published last month which covers jQuery 3 and is still bang up to date.


More Information

jQuery 3.2.1 Is Now Available, With Some Hotfixes

Related Articles

jQuery 3.0 Final Released

JQuery And Dojo Foundations To Merge

jQuery Adopts Semantic Versioning

jQuery 2.0 Leaves Behind Older IE Browsers

jQuery 3 - Understanding jQuery

Getting Started with jQuery UI

Just jQuery: The Core UI (I/O Press)


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