New jQuery boosts web site speeds

Developers behind the popular jQuery have updated the JavaScript library for speed

A widely used open source library for simplifying Javascript-based Web application development has just gotten a performance jolt.

JQuery version 1.6, released on Tuesday, features a number of revisions that should help JavaScript-rendered Web pages run a bit more quickly.

"Keeping your application up-to-date with the latest version of jQuery is always advisable, as it allows you to leverage the performance and API improvements the team is constantly making," said Adam Sontag, a member of the jQuery developer relations team.

In terms of performance improvement, the development team has revamped how jQuery handles HTML attributes, drawing a clear line between attributes on HTML tags and JavaScript properties of the corresponding DOM (Document Object Model) elements. Attributes define initial variables of a page, such as the size of an image. Instead of mixing attributes and properties together inside of selected methods, two new methods, ".prop()" and ".removeProp()" have been added for directly manipulating properties, Sontag noted. These new methods have sped up performance of attribute and property handling across all browsers, the team reports.

Another improvement: The performance of event handlers -- such as a mouse click -- has been improved due to changes in the ".data()" method. The handling of hyphen-delimited data attributes has been modified to comply with the W3C standards.

Support for animations have also gotten a boost: jQuery now has a timer that can synchronize multiple animations on a single timing schedule. It also has support for the requestAnimationFrame specification in browsers where it is supported, which can help animations run more smoothly by alerting the browser when to repaint the palette for each animation frame.

The development team also added support for making relative changes to CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) values, made improvements to the Deferred object that can simplify more complex use cases, and more.

Developed in 2006, jQuery is a server-side cross-browser library that provides a simpler developer interface for commonly-used operations that can be carried out in JavaScript, such as handling events, providing document navigation aids, or sending data back to the server.

JQuery appears to be the most widely used JavaScript library, with 32 percent of the million most-visited Web sites using the technology, according to an ongoing survey from W3Techs. JQuery has been crucial in the development of Ajax-styled Rich Internet Applications (RIA).

Microsoft includes jQuery in its Visual Studio integrated development environment. Adobe's newly released Dreamweaver 5.5 includes a version of jQuery for mobile applications.

Now that jQuery 1.6 is finished, the development team is soliciting what changes users would like to see in version 1.7.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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