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The 6 most useful JQuery Plugins


Lets get one thing out of the way before we go any further – I’m a jquery fanboi. I use it, I need it, I love it.

I’ve been using this wonderful library for almost 2 years now and I can only vaguely remember what it was like developing a site without it.

It’s kind of like trying to remember what life was like before getting your first cellphone. You managed somehow, but now you just can’t quite see yourself making it through the day without one.

I’ve just finished another project and was struck again by how much easier these libraries and their plugins make my life. To write javascript using old school methods is such a waste of time and in my opinion, just downright silly.

Before I start a new project, I spend quite a bit of time going through the various plugins available to see if there’s anything new that may help me in my work.The following list details my favorite and most frequently used plugins.

1. Thickbox – this plugin is what first convinced me to give jquery a go. I was looking for something along the same lines as the prototype / script.aculo.us Lightbox plugin. The fact that it handled content and not just images coupled with it’s lightweight footprint is what sold me. In my opinion, still the most useful jquery plugin out there.

2. Superfish Menus – I’ve tried many, m-a-n-y javascript based menu systems and I have to say that this is so far the easiest and most flexible implementation I’ve seen yet. I’m just sorry that I didn’t discover it sooner.

3. Datepicker – probably the easiest to use calendar popup script I’ve used to date. Powerful, flexible and unobtrusive, what more could you want?

4. JGrowl – only recently discovered, it’s a stylish way of notifying users of what’s going on in your application. I use it to display system messages in my admin panels. Definitely beats the standard window.alert approach. The only thing I don’t like is that you have to use the entire jquery.ui library (over 150K). I’ll be looking into this to see if there’s some way to cut down on the filesize.

5. clueTip – pretty handy when you need to display tooltips. Supports ajax and inline content and very easy to implement.

6. UI Tabs – makes creating tab based navigation on your website stupidly simple. The various options make this plugin a must have. I find it very useful for longer forms, admin panels and organising one’s interface.

There are of course hundreds of other plugins available that I haven’t even looked at yet. Then there are all the other javascript libraries available, with all of their hundreds of plugins. Which is what I love about the web – there’s always something new to play with.

Again, my heartfelt thanks to all of the selfless, hardworking hackers out there who publish their work for all and sundry to use. Without you guys, the web would simply cease to function.

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  1. Mary
    April 19, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    I just happened upon this article as I have become a fan of Jquery recently. My jquery fu is weak but I am wondering how the cluetip might integrate with WordPress. Can it do it correctly without breaking anything?

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