jQuery’s triumphant march to success

jQueryFive years ago, no one had heard about jQuery. It was just an idea in the back of Javascript guru John Resig’s head. Today, jQuery is by far the most popular Javascript library in the world and is used by over 28% of all websites on the internet.

jQuery is open source, web developers love it, it’s been embraced by a slew of big companies, and is close to becoming a de facto standard for website development. It doesn’t just have the support of the open source developer community behind it, it’s even received official support from Microsoft.

So, what exactly is jQuery? The jQuery team probably says it best:

jQuery is a fast and concise JavaScript Library that simplifies HTML document traversing, event handling, animating, and Ajax interactions for rapid web development. jQuery is designed to change the way that you write JavaScript.

Websites that use jQuery

More and more websites are using jQuery, and a large portion of the most popular websites in the world is using it. For example:

Twitter.com, Wikipedia.org, MLB.com, Amazon.com, Bing.com, Microsoft.com, Bit.ly, ESPN.com, Digg.com, Reddit.com, Netflix.com, WordPress.com and many others.

Even the US government uses it (Whitehouse.gov).

As we mentioned in the introduction, more than 28% of all websites use jQuery, and that trend is pointing upwards. Strictly speaking, this statistic is based on the top 10,000 websites, but it’ll be reasonably close.

jQuery usage
Above: jQuery usage graph from BuiltWith.

What about other Javascript libraries?

jQuery is by far the most popular JavaScript library in use today, any category. Out of all sites that use Javascript libraries and functions, more than 38% use jQuery. As an example of how dominant jQuery has become, the closest similar Javascript library is Prototype, with 7.55%.

Javascript library stats
Above: Javascript library and function distribution from BuiltWith.

And when it comes to overall buzz, jQuery’s dominance is even more pronounced. A couple of years ago, everyone was talking about Prototype, but not anymore. If you look at sheer interest, jQuery has crushed the competition.

jQuery dominanceThe below graph shows interest for jQuery compared with Prototype, Dojo, MooTools, and ExtJS. The little diagram here to the right shows you which color in the graph corresponds to which library, and also the standing now in 2010.

This chart and the diagram to the right have been filtered to only show results for the “Web Design and Development” category in Google Insights for Search (since “prototype” is such a common word).

jQuery popularity rise
Above: jQuery is the blue, sharply climbing curve. The red one is Prototype.

jQuery gets lots of help from companies

Not only has jQuery been embraced by indie developers everywhere, it has managed to find that golden balance where it’s also been equally popular on the enterprise end. This is surely one of the keys to its success and with the backing of so many large companies, jQuery has been able to blossom.

Here are a few examples of how companies are helping or sponsoring the jQuery project.

  • Both Microsoft and Google serve the jQuery library from their Content Delivery Networks, free for any site to use.
  • Media Temple is donating all resources necessary to host the jQuery website.
  • Microsoft has committed to help with QA testing and even code development. It also includes jQuery as part of Visual Studio and ASP.NET MVC.
  • Nokia is contributing with testing and has also hired one of the core developers, Brandon Aaron.
  • And of course there’s open source champion Mozilla, where lead developer and jQuery creator John Resig works.

These were just some of the prominent ones. There are more sponsors of the jQuery project. For example, Pingdom (hey, that’s us!) is also a sponsor.

According to John Resig, 100% of jQuery’s resources come in through donations. And it’s not all about getting support from big companies. Anyone can donate to the jQuery project.

A small team, but a big success

The jQuery core development team consists of only six programmers, including jQuery creator John Resig. There is also a developer relations team of six people.

Then there are people working on a few other aspects of jQuery, like plugins, but overall, the team isn’t all that big. And remember, this is an open source project, where the contributors are volunteering their efforts.

You can read more about the jQuery team on their homepage.

Final words

This could very well be it, the one core Javascript library to rule them all and become, if not an official standard, at least an unofficial industry standard for web developers.

With its current adoption rate, it will most likely become even more dominant this year, especially among any new web projects.


  1. I assume that 28% of all websites on the internet is in fact 28% of websites with javascript. Which again, I don’t think is an accurate number.

    First of all, BuiltWith has its target – a more technical persons that have all sorts of frameworks in their sites. This isn’t a rule for the rest of the sites.

  2. Interesting stats. I am really surprised that ExtJS didn’t even show up on the pie chart. How can that be?! I mean, SURELY, it’s got to be bigger’n MooTools. Right? You lose credibility in not paying any lip service to that oddity. Comes across too fanboy.

    Also, if I donate a dollar a year to jQuery, may I claim that I, too, am a “sponsor?”

  3. @Andy: That’s not true – BuiltWith spiders a large number of sites, looking for technologies that might be used – and even spiders sites that don’t use JavaScript. Thus means that jQuery is being used of 28% of all sites – including ones that use no JavaScript at all. There isn’t a particular bias to one technology or framework as the results are collected from raw spidering of the web.

    For example, here’s another service that only spiders the Alexa Top 10,000. Even here the relative results are about the same (even if scaled back a bit for all the libraries, as large sites tend to use more custom JavaScript):

    @BT Broadway: You can look at the results for yourself:

    ExtJS and Dojo, while certainly well-regarded frameworks, aren’t used as much on the general web. (Debatably, they’re used much more frequently on hidden corporate intranets.)

  4. John, your response implies I that I thought there was some sort of typo in the article. Fair enough but, no, I was casting doubt on results (and, directly, how they were obtained). While I appreciate your excitement over the popularity of your very amazing creation, to lump Ext in with Mootools and Dojo in terms of popularity levels is at best suspect.

    Touting the support from some rather sketchy site (seriously. can you tell me *anything* about who runs the site and its methodology?) is well beneath your station.

    1. @BT Broadway: The inclusion of Ext in the graph from Google Insights for Search is just there to add perspective. The point was just to show scale compared to some other common libraries (in terms of “popularity”).

      If you choose not to trust the stats from BuiltWith, that is of course your prerogative. Regarding the pie chart, Ext JS was probably not included because it’s much less common on the public sites that BuiltWith are testing. According to BuiltWith, only 0.1% of the tested sites use Ext JS.

      As for your question about the methodology BuiltWith uses… That should be pretty straightforward, shouldn’t it? But you’ve got a point, they should probably add a section for that on their website.

  5. @BT Broadway: My name is Gary Brewer and I run BuiltWith and we don’t believe we are a “sketchy site”, you can read up about me and the site at Crunchbase http://www.crunchbase.com/company/builtwith or look at our FAQ on our blog – http://blog.builtwith.com/index.php/faq/ or on my website http://garybrewer.com.au

    We compile the stats on the 1st and 15th of each month. We look for identifiers that tell us if a site is using a technology, for JQuery we look for things like jquery.js. There’s always going to be a margin of error in these statistics but the source group is usually big enough to give us an indication of what technologies are being used more than others, JQuery is clearly gaining market share over all other JavaScript frameworks even if the exact percentage of sites using the technology is not 100% correct.

    In fact we are going to start looking at creating new trend information which we will make available for free alongside the current information that covers 10x (100,000) websites which will hopefully improve tracking for technologies that are not as well represented in the 10,000 we currently spider.



  6. whitehouse.gov is built with Drupal which is one of the early adopters of jQuery regarding CMS. I guess this helped jQuery becoming more popular quite a bit.

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and not published in real time. All comments that are not related to the post will be removed.