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Reducing the pain of adopting a JavaScript library

By Mike Davies | December 12th, 2006 | Filed in DOM, DOM Scripting TF, General

Why is it so difficult to adopt a new JavaScript library? Chris Heilmann offers library developers a path for improvement.

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Chris Heilmann hits a number of pain points in adopting a new JavaScript library. Developers don’t need more JavaScript libraries, we need better quality JavaScript libraries.

One of the big problems of learning a new JavaScript library is the lack of practical step-by-step guides for that library. The API documentation barely scratches the surface of what’s needed. The API is just a dry snapshot taken at a point in time – a roll-call of methods and properties.

A step-by-step developer’s guide should demonstrate the features of the library and show how its methods and properties work together to solve common development problems. What I’m looking for is a book that could be titled: ‘Develop web applications with XYZ library in a weekend’, that contains a series of working examples, using the features of a library as well as explaining those features.

Perhaps its also worth creating a gallery of typical web applications (for example, a blog reader/editor, a calendar, a collapsible tree) and show how these applications are built and developed using the various JavaScript libraries. That gives us a chance to focus on the practical aspects of libraries, as well as identifying and comparing the strengths and weaknesses of libraries.

Chris lists other frustrating pain points including the lack of unobtrusive examples, libraries that break accepted conventions, lack of consistent terminology, and the lack of accurate and realistic evaluation of browser support.

We’ve got a lot of work to do to make JavaScript libraries usable by web developers. It shouldn’t be this painful.

Your Replies

#1 On December 12th, 2006 11:38 am