LearnKarl Swedberg on jQuery


writes on October 29, 2009

Next up in our series of short interviews is Karl Swedberg. Karl is the principal author at Learning jQuery and regularly presents and blogs about JavaScript and jQuery.

Editor’s Note: Karl will be hosting a workshop on “jQuery for Designers” at The Future of Web Design New York on November 16-17 2009. You can buy your ticket online now.

For designers that might not of heard of it, what is JQuery?

jQuery is a tool to help designers and developers add interactive elements to their web pages. At the risk of oversimplifying, jQuery’s core feature is a set of commands that enable you to (a) find, or create, elements on a page and (b) do something with them. It’s JavaScript that lets designers and developers avoid the hassles of JavaScript. And since it’s JavaScript, it can do all sorts of stuff without forcing a page refresh.

In your opinion why is JQuery relevant to designers?

JavaScript in general adds another dimension to design, and jQuery makes that other dimension easier to achieve. For designers who are familiar with CSS, writing simple jQuery scripts will feel quite familiar. For designers with Flash experience, jQuery provides a standards-based, non-proprietary, open-source alternative for creating some of the same kinds of effects and interactions as is often done with Flash.

For those considering your workshop at The Future of Web Deisgn New York, what kind of things will you be covering?

I’ll give a quick overview of the jQuery library, and then we’ll look at some practical ways to progressively enhance web sites for better user experiences. I’ll show some techniques for using jQuery to fill in the gaps where CSS, or at least some browsers’ handling of CSS, falls short. We’ll discuss how to put animations to good use and how to avoid their abuse. And we’ll examine a few cool plugins and see how to take advantage of their power and flexibility.

There are a number of really useful plugins available for JQuery. What are the must haves for every designer?

It depends on the needs of the site and often the demands of the client as well. One that I find myself using quite a bit is the Cycle Plugin by Mike Alsup. At its most basic, it’s a slideshow widget that shows images one at a time with a nice transition effect between them. But the plugin is incredibly powerful and gives you the ability to do all sorts of things not just with images but with written content too. It’s particularly nice where a lot of information needs to fit in a small space.

I’ve also begun using the jQuery UI plugin suite quite a bit lately. It makes creating rich user interaction such as drag and drop really easy. Its components are great, too; I’ve used the dialog, tabs, and datepicker in a number of projects.

What do you think is the Future of Web Design?

You mean other than a really cool conference, right? I’m afraid I’d end up looking like an idiot if I tried to predict the future of any technology. In some ways I suppose the future is going to look all too familiar until we can get rid of the albatross of certain legacy browsers. Still, it’s exciting to see what’s going on right now with the newer, better browsers, and I’m hopeful that some of the cutting edge stuff will take root and see more widespread adoption.

The Webkit team is doing amazing things with CSS animations and tapping into hardware graphics to make stunning visual effects. Firefox, Safari, and Chrome have been leapfrogging each other with better and better JavaScript engines — and JavaScript libraries have been tapping into the increased power and performance. We’re seeing more and more use of HTML5 elements such as canvas, audio, and video. Typography on the web is poised to get a whole lot better as progress is being made with font embedding, both on the technical side and the legal side. One thing I can be sure of is that the future of web design is going to surprise me.


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0 Responses to “Karl Swedberg on jQuery”

  1. I like your perspective on the future of web design. I often times run across designers and developers that are not nearly as humble as you. Their attitudes probably won’t be around in the future as the community continues to work with each other in sustainable networks.

  2. Great interview! I really need to start learning jQuery. I use it now, but I only know how to implement it and I don’t know how to code from scratch.

    Any great tutorials and resources out there to get started on this?

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