jQuery was a dream come true. Not only was it packaged lighter than that of Prototype or MooTools — mostly due to the core not being bundled with multiple plugins, but the syntax seemed so much more intuitive.
$('.item > li')
Look at that chaining ability! jQuery even lets you go back to the initial selector on the chain by adding a end() and then continuing on the chain.
Of course, being new to jQuery, there was a bit of a learning curve to how the syntax worked and the best practices. I purchased a book, jQuery in Action, read it over a weekend, and started converting my control suites. I was able to compress most of my functions by about 60% using the jQuery library. It’s that more intuitive and better reuse of code!
Like I mentioned above, we needed to convert over all the functions currently using Prototype to jQuery. Before I came on board at Real Travel, the old site was actually using the YUI library. I find that library to have a bad case of code bloat and quickly made the suggestion to moving to Prototype since we were converting to Rails. Now, another conversion was in need to jQuery.
We quickly diagnosed what was on our site and what plugins we needed to be fully compatible with what we currently had. Because Rails has RJS built in, we needed new Rails helpers to be compatible with jQuery. Thus, we installed the jRails plugin and worked like a charm.
Since we were midstream of conversion, Prototype still needed to be in the app to function. Luckily, jQuery plays nice with other libraries by offering an awesome function that needs to be included just once in the head.
Now that we have finally converted over the old library and added the new plugins to coincide with what we had, I am so glad we went this route. The client side of the site, once we launch the new code, seems so much faster with rendering time. Not only does the site seem faster, but I feel like the chains have dropped off with the ability to develop new things. jQuery, even though its been around for a while, seems to be coming along strongly with more development backing than Prototype over the past year or so.