jQuery UI and beyond: The jQuery-Liferay partnership

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jQuery UI is growing, and I’m already seeing quite a few sites using it exclusively to support their interface. As a matter of fact, it’s growing so well, that a LA-based open-source company decided to hire a person to exclusively work on jQuery UI full-time.

I’m very happy to announce that I, Paul Bakaus, lead of jQuery UI, was hired by Liferay Inc., the company behind the world’s most popular open source java portal, to focus solely on bringing jQuery UI to a next level. This has an enormous effect to the whole project – I can now invest almost three times the amount of time and power, and I’m helping to deploy jQuery and jQuery UI in mission critical projects, which makes a huge difference.

Liferay’s plans are to standardize all their products to use jQuery and its plugins for the future (you’ll still be able to use other libraries at the same time) – it’s therefore in their very interest to see jQuery UI enjoying a long life, growing to meet expectations of all kinds of clients and beyond. To reach this goal, hiring me was the most logical decision: I now have no excuse not-to-focus on jQuery UI for a while – after all, it’s my day job!

But the cooperation with Liferay is even more than that: Liferay will be the first company starting from today to offer business critical support services for both jQuery and jQuery UI. Not only we’ll have a open source company backing us, but it’s the best publicity a project can have: jQuery UI will run in huge intranets, on every copy of Liferay. This will have a strong effect on both the distribution of the project and the level of quality that is being provided.

I myself am extremely excited about the change – there are countless positive side effects and products coming up – new products featuring jQuery, sponsored themes for UI, a new website, and of course – a new version of jQuery UI (the release date of the new, polished version with all the long-awaited bugfixes will be announced in the next couple of days).

45 thoughts on “jQuery UI and beyond: The jQuery-Liferay partnership

  1. Marc Grabanski on said:

    Congrats Paul, I’m looking forward to watch what happens with jQuery UI as a result of you being able to spend 3x the amount of time on it! It was a smart move of liferay’s to hire you to give to the community as well as fuel their own products. I hope more corporations follow suit.

  2. malsup on said:

    Paul, this is fantastic news. Congratulations! I had already earmarked Liferay for an upcoming project so this is a very welcome announcement indeed!

  3. This is great news for jQuery. UI is the next frontier for the jQuery library and this news is great for the progress and continued permanence of both jQuery and jQuery UI.

  4. Wow. Very interesting. My company was looking at using LifeRay to replace a Novell eXtend installation since Novell has killed off the product (and we’ve experienced frequent crashes from it the cause of which we’ve been unable to track down). I knew that LifeRay used JQuery (which we also use extensively inhouse… how I wish I could show everyone some of the cool JQuery things we’re doing on our corporate Intranet!), but now they go and hire Paul to work on LifeRay and on improving JQuery UI even more?!!! This just raised my opinion of LifeRay even more. I can’t wait for our tech guys to set up a test server for me to install LifeRay on.

    Congrats, Paul. Here’s to all the wonderful code that I’m sure you’ll write for LifeRay and for JQuery/JQuery UI!

  5. Mind blowing news Paul! Most sincere congratulations. I guess you have now the best job in the world. :)

    I knew jQuery was the best framework to invest time and energy for.

  6. JR Houn on said:

    Congrats and welcome Paul! It was a pleasure to meet you, and I do look forward to seeing your work grow!

  7. This is really great news, I’ve been using jQuery for about 6 months to a year now on major projects at Soap Creative and it has had a massive impact on the way we create interfaces now.

  8. This is great news and an added bonus that there will be news on the new UI release this week. Will there be a published roadmap for the addition of new components?

  9. John Smith on said:

    I’m happy to hear about these news, although I have to admit I am a bit skeptical! I have been quite frustrated with the lack of progress there has been in the Interface and jQuery UI area for quite some time. Right now we are in a position in which we have not had any stable releases (suitable for production environments) of any of the two libraries for more than a year.

    On January 2007, after a few months of slow progress, the Interface people talked about rewriting the library in order to improve its performance: “We often came to a point where we really wanted to change the API in several ways, but it seemed too late for Interface. This is why we decided to start Interface 2, a non-compatible collection with many parts rewritten and an overall sense-making architecture. We will soon release first parts of it in a separate section, but continue to update Interface 1. Check our news section again soon!”.

    Well, we all know what has happened to Interface: no updates during the last year. I wouldn’t mind the lack of new functionality if it wasn’t for the fact that Interface is so outdated that it only works with version 1.1.2 of jQuery which is also about a year old. This means that having a site that depends on Interface results in not being able to benefit from the latest jQuery bug fixes and improvements. Being a year behind is quite bad in this fast-changing industry.

    People who were anxiously waiting for the “soon to be released” Interface 2.0 had some mixed news during mid-2007: development of the library would stop in favour of a new, mind-blowing, jQuery-sanctioned UI library. Wow! A lot of us were pissed to have to wait for a few more months to see this new library appear, but at least we could hope for the new library to have better support and faster development than Interface had.

    In Spetember 2007 the first version of jQuery UI 1.0 appeared. Although it looked promising, it was quite buggy and lacked part of the functionality that Interface already had. As a result, i was not able to upgrade my projects to jQuery UI and continued to be stuck with the aging Interface 1.2 and jQuery 1.1.2.

    The jQuery UI team acknowledged the fact that the first release of the library had not been very successful and announced they would release a debugged, stable version for the end of October 2007. It seems as though Paul had an accident (for which I am very sorry), and that, as a result, the whole development of jQuery UI has been delayed further. On the 10th of January Paul announced that there would be a jQuery 1.1 code freeze followed by a week or two of debugging and, finally, a beta release we can all hope will be versatile and robust enough for all the sad Interface users to scrap that library and start using the latest jQuery code.

    I have been waiting since late 2006 for something to get excited about regarding the UI aspect of jQuery. Some of the jQuery plugins I have seen are amazing, but we have been lacking some proper, updated, foundation code on which to base our work. During that time I have seem wonderful progress in Ext, Scriptaculous and Mootools (just to mention some libraries). I sincerely hope that the jQuery 1.1 release occurs in February 2008 and that it is as good as we are all hoping!

    I know this post might sound as a complaint and that all people involved in the development of these libraries are doing it for free (for which I am very grateful). However, if we want jQuery to be taken seriously (even more), we cannot afford such a blatant lack of progress on such an important part of the library again.



  10. I do not know much about the teams working on the other libraries, but I know that this is a huge win for jQuery. It just proves that jQuery is Enterprise quality!

    I look forward to an updated jQuery UI that can really push my web apps to the next level. Congratulations to you Paul and to John for creating such a wonderful library.

  11. @John Smith:

    John, I am the Director for UI Engineering at Liferay, as well as a (minor) contributor to jQuery, and I can really appreciate your skepticism as well as your frustration. This area of jQuery is one that has been unstable for a while, and one that has lagged behind other libraries.

    But I can say that Liferay is very invested in seeing jQuery do well, as well as seeing jQuery UI become a solution that is not only adequate, but excellent for both the user space and the enterprise market.

    Recently, Khoi Vinh wrote an article about why enterprise software sucks (http://www.subtraction.com/archives/2007/1019_if_it_looks_.php). And I couldn’t agree more. This is part of what has driven our adoption of jQuery. It’s simplicity, power, and adaptability is what attracted us to it, but it’s no secret that it’s intended audience is not the enterprise. While most enterprise software does suck, it’s benefits are that it has to be stable, fast, and reliable.

    We think that we can have the best of both worlds, and have decided to put our money where our collective mouth is by bringing Paul on full time.

    So while I know that one comment from me on a blog post won’t assuage all of your fears and worries, let me say that Paul and I have worked to put together an aggressive but realistic timeline that I think will please the jQuery community, the Liferay community, and our clients. We have every intention of meeting the timeline, and are working hard to make sure we can deliver.

    Let me just say that as an open source company, we truly do understand that every product out there, open and closed source, derives it’s power from it’s community. No major product has gotten anywhere without passionate users, and with this announcement, we have no intention of stepping on anyones toes in either community, so I would like to keep an open invite for any and all participation in the jQuery UI partnership, as well as contributions and input into the Liferay community. If anyone would like to chime in on the Liferay side, please feel free to visit our forums at http://forums.liferay.com, and if anyone would like to help or offer input on the jQuery UI side, please email either Paul, myself, or the jQuery dev list.

    Thanks all.

  12. Raymond on said:

    While this sounds great I tihink the current UI is lacking.

    There’s is no presentation layer/framework on which the components/widgetsare built. In other words they just dont connect and work with each other.

    A good UI architechture will be necessary to move forward.

    Best wishes

  13. John Smith on said:

    Dear Nate Cavanaugh,

    Thanks for your post regarding Liferay’s commitment to the jQuery UI library. I believe jQuery is a great library and, as a result, I have been using it for the last year and a half (I even ported all of my applications from Prototype + Scriptaculous to jQuery). Although the Interface and jQuery UI history so far has been quite disappointing, I am hopeful that Liferay’s involvement will result in a more structured development environment for jQuery UI and that the stability this brings will foster the adoption and development of further jQuery. In the meantime, a transparent road map with realistic deadlines (that are actually met) would be a good way to recover jQuerians’ hope (and potential jQuerians’ trust).



  14. I agree with Raymond. UI is not as stable as jQuery releases. I tried downloading the Sortables last week and there seems to be an error in the packing of it, I get errors in my Firebug console even if I follow the tutorial to a T.

  15. Dietrich on said:

    @smith nice post, @nate thanks for the reply.

    The thing I love about jQuery is it’s intuitive — it does what you think it will do. I find it very easy to incorporate jQuery into Rails applications. For example, a slider ui control calling the Ajax.Updater to submit a form. And on the MS side SubSonic applications and/or their new MVC framework — jQuery UI really could shine. As jQuery UI develops it would nice to keep those technologies in mind.


  16. Raymond on said:

    I have some experience in Javascript framework UI. I’m from the old DynAPI days. As soon as I can get down start understanding the inner API of jQuery I will also try to help where possible.

  17. * note different from the “jive” above.

    I am glad to hear that there will be a stronger interest and approach to jquery interface and UI. I too have felt the same way as John and anticipate the next stable release. Interface served all of my needs and then was kinda yanked out from under me forcing me to use an outdated Jquery…

    My concerns: I have never heard of of Liferay until now. I am a Freelance designer/Developer, that at times hires a handful of contractors and our clients are smaller to medium businesses. Most of our websites are built using PHP, Xhtml , CSS and of course Javascript. We have no need for enterprise level software as this is not our market. Liferay is obviously that: Enterprise level software writen in Java EE.

    While I am excited about the stronger development cycle, I am concerned that the new software will now focus in a new proprietary (though open source) direction, suiting and tailoring specific needs Liferay, Java, and enterprise solutions. I wouldn’t blame Liferay for wanting this approach… they are paying for it to do this. Does this indirectly in a sense, shut out compatibility (or as much compatibility) with other technologies, such as PHP Frameworks, Rails, etc…

    it’s no secret that it’s intended audience is not the enterprise.

    I guess my primary concern is that the focus is changing now. It seems like Paul is being payed to continue with a focus on enterprise, – but by the way, lets do what we can to help those little guys out now and then…

    And we all know that us little guys at times tend to get left behind…

  18. Great news for jQuery — to have time to develop on an impressive framework. Too bad it is working with a technology (portal architecture) that was new in 1999, and hasn’t changed since. My employer chose Liferay (4.3.1) for a public portal solution that is not only bloated and slow, but also very difficult for developers to work with. It’s nice to know that jQuery will only be a small part of the 192KB of JS files included in a single Liferay page.

    The major release of jQuery may be a year old, but it accomplishes exactly what is needed out of a lightweight JS framework. I hope Liferay doesn’t push it’s trend of code bloat and uselessness on to jQuery.

  19. Larry Nowak on said:

    I aree with Nate, JQuery has really problem, Interface is unuseable since 1.2 version and UI isn’t good alternative. Sorry, i am unhappy from this situation. I think many users looks back to scriptaculous. I’l be happy if development Interface library still continue, but i think UI kill it.

  20. Raymond on said:


    I just noticed on Interface’s website that the last news was posted 14-jan-1007 and was written by “Paul.” Is this the same Paul who started this Blog? Are you the creator of Interface elements?

    If you are, just want you to know that I love you work!!! Amazing stuff!!!

    You’re the Man!!

  21. Fabien Meghazi on said:

    Yeah, I guess a little bit of clarification about the future of jQuery UI would be a good thing for the community.
    I’m currently evaluating ExtJS even if for low level things I will always use jQuery because it’s the best js lib available.
    While I don’t see myself using ExtJS on the customer side of a web service (graceful degradation using ExtJS ? Don’t even know if it possible) I must admit that for the back-end part of web services ExtJS might be cool (did not even started learning it).

    The idea of switching to ExtJS for back-ends interface of web application I develop was triggered by the fact that I had the feeling that jQuery UI would take ages before integrating features like ExtJS. Then I saw this blog post. And now I hesitate again, but I know that I won’t hesitate long if I can’t have some visibility about jQuery UI’s future.

    Something I don’t like in ExtJS is that it’s damn too heavy. Loading an ExtJS application on my Dell Latitude X1 1Ghz takes ages.
    And the API seems complex. My first look to the api made me the same feeling when I opened the “Programming GTK+” book for the first time :-)

    Anyway, if it is said that jQuery UI’s future is to be as heavy as ExtJS, then I’ve no reason to wait jQuery UI anymore.
    On the other hand, if it is said that jQuery UI will keep the same spirit as jQuery core (light, fast, powerful, flexible and intuitive) then I’ll wait a little bit more. And if the work in progress shows that it’s true, I’ll checkout the svn and help as far as I can.

    In short, I would appreciate some communication about jQuery UI’s future.

    PS: I’m really sorry for my bad english

  22. Vasile on said:

    Yes, very good news!!!
    As Fabien Meghazi said, there already is ExtJS library which I used to build an admin tool (I used CRUD operations).
    But the framework is to complex for use. I did a nice work, but was so hard… :)
    Please consider an update for existing jQuery table sorter with some new functionalities: loading mask, paging, edit functionalities(for CRUD operations).

    PS: there are some great plugins, but is to hard to put all in one and even to choose between some of them

  23. Dave Probert on said:

    I think this is generally a good thing, but I would suggest that to actually make it something us jQuery UI users are happy with would be to stick to things you say you are going to do, and in the timeframe you say.

    For example:
    Quote: “(the release date of the new, polished version with all the long-awaited bugfixes will be announced in the next couple of days)”

    This was from the blog post above – posted on January 23rd, 2008.

    Now it’s Feb 1st (9 days later)! and still no sign of the announcement. The ‘next couple of days’ does not read as ‘next couple of WEEKS’.

    Basically, DON’T state a timeframe UNLESS you can stick to it. It’s too fraustrating to us who are waiting and that’s why some people are losing interest in the UI.

    – The above comment does NOT really apply to jQuery itself – That is one library that does not get any complaints from me :)

  24. well for sure, anything left unattended, dies or loses its use… I guess there is no response to my last comment, which means I am to assume that jquery UI will be a Liferay focused software….

    Not very exciting…

  25. Recently, I reviewed all the major Javascript libraries for a new development project (Prototype, Scriptaculous, ExtJs, Dojo, Mootools, Yahoo’s library, etc) and LOVED the simplicity of the core jQuery library.

    While digging into the jQuery web site documentation/tutorials/etc, I found the jQuery UI library. While not needing or wanting a lot of flashy Javascript effects for my current project, it wasn’t of immediate practical interest, but I decided to play around with it just for fun. What I found was that the jQuery UI library is BUGGY and some things just flat out DO NOT WORK.

    Again, not really needing the UI library, it wasn’t a big deal, but it made me uneasy about jQuery as a whole. Releasing a buggy library and not fixing it or addressing the community’s questions (and making things up like, “we’ll update you in a couple days”) says something about the way the way the project is handled.

    While I still like jQuery, using it on production project is a risk. Imagine spending the months creating a complex library (like Interface) only to have a new version of jQuery released that breaks your code. Furthermore, being kept in the dark on enhancements/the future development plans just isn’t acceptable.

    I’m holding out hope that jQuery gets its act together soon, but if not, they will lose the mindshare of my developers when we choose a different framework.

  26. Raymond on said:


    I have to agree with you about “the simplicity of the core jQuery library!” It’s just keeps getting better and better every time I ready the docs :)

    I would also agree that bothe the UI team and the core team needs to be in sync with each other. But if they are not, I would not see any reason to quit using such a great library. It just cuts the development time in half!

    Thanks again for creating such a very cool library

  27. Pingback: jQuery: » Workin’ Hard

  28. Great news :)
    jQuery UI is a much needed plugin and it still need many features and fixes to compete with other library’s UI components.

    Good luck !!

  29. Nate Cavanaugh on said:

    Hi all,
    I see a few comments above that I’d like to address, both about jQuery (UI) and Liferay itself, as well as the intended focus and direction of jQuery UI and how that meshes with Liferay’s goals and intentions.

    First, just a little background: I come from a PHP background. I’ve been a senior PHP developer for different companies, and that is where my heart is. I am enamored of other langauges, such as Ruby and Python, but PHP is still, to me, an exciting and dynamic language that is an amazing amount of fun to code in.

    With that being said, I have a lot of respect for what’s been going on in the Java/J2EE world. The amount of libraries and frameworks that exist to handle numerous tasks and things that the PHP and RoR world has yet to address is awe-inspiring.

    I also have been a front end developer for many years, and for many organizations in that role, and have a very strong background in design.

    So what does this have to do with jQuery, jQuery UI and Liferay?

    We believe that “enterprise” has become a bit of a dirty word, and it doesn’t have to be. We also believe that most of the people who are doing “enterprise”-level software aren’t trying to appeal to or cater to the user space.

    But Liferay is different, and that’s not just a marketing bullet point I would insert into a presentation. The culture, the company, the employees from the top down are different from anything I’ve ever seen in any organization. Liferay is definitely enterprise, but it’s anything but corporate.

    In our current space, we own a very large percentage of the market, and we believe that the tools that we’re developing have a benefit to others outside of our space.

    We also believe that the tools being developed outside of our space can benefit those inside of our space.

    We wish to create the best of both worlds. Something that just works, something that’s easy to use, easy to develop for, but that is stable, rock solid, fast, and can be relied upon to work consistently.

    In October, I went to The AJAX Experience in Boston, and met with Paul and John to talk about this partnership. I made it clear to them that we have no intention of hijacking jQuery, nor of changing it’s core focus.
    We brought Paul on to help make our product better, and to help make jQuery better.

    Yes, we will be focusing on components that we need, and some of them might be components that not every single person will want. But many of those same components will be used by many people.

    Overall, we’re going to be improving jQuery UI.

    Now, why jQuery, and why invest in it? Because the core underlying paradigm of jQuery just works. It’s easy to understand for both those with and without previous javascript experience.

    It helps people build stuff quickly.
    We want to expand that toolset, and in way that has the benefits of the user space and the enterprise space.

    As for Liferay taking jQuery UI in a Java/J2EE direction, we will not be taking development of jQuery UI in that direction. jQuery UI will remain, like jQuery itself, language agnostic and framework agnostic. There may be some paradigms from Java we may borrow, but they will be things that enhance jQuery’s simplicity and ease of use, not things that get in the way of the developer.

    I also saw a comment above about someone using Liferay 4.3.1. I will say that things have dramatically improved since then, such as Javascript file size. It’s now around 88k, including jQuery, jQuery plugins, all of Liferay’s code, and other third party plugins and modules we’ve included.
    We’ve gone through extensive profiling and have sped things up dramatically. We’ve reduced the number of HTTP requests drastically, we’ve sped up Javascript execution time quite a bit, and we’ve fixed a ton of bugs.
    The 4.3 branch is currently on 4.3.6, and in that time a lot of improvements we’re made.
    We also just released version 4.4, and we’re slated to release 5.0 very soon.

    So yeah, 4.3.0 was a pretty rough release for us, because we changed things quite a bit, but the branch underwent extensive improvements in a very short time after it first came out.

    As for a comment above about keeping developers in the dark on the release cycle, I have to apologize for that. The delay over the past week or so has been because of some good reasons, but I won’t make excuses.
    In any open source project, transparency and frequent communication are the keys to developing passion amongst its users, and we do get that.

    Paul is currently in Boston, and we hope to have the roadmap, and projected release cycle out soon.

    For anyone who is curious, we’re hoping for a release of jQuery 1.1 somewhere between Feb. 8-11th. We also hope to have jQuery FX, the sister library to jQuery UI, by around March 9th.

    These dates are a bit flexible, but we’re doing everything in our power to meet them on time, and with quality work when we release.

    As for what’s coming up? We plan to have such things like an official color picker, spinner, progress indicator, a sortable grid, panes, toolbars, buttons, tooltips, AJAX history manager, etc.
    We are planning to have these all by late July.

    So, all this to say, guys, I really appreciate your frustration with things, which is the same frustration I’ve personally felt, and I am telling you, this will work, and we’re in it to not just do the same components other libraries have, but to innovate and continue to solve existing and new problems that inevitably come up.

    Thanks for letting me have my spiel :)

  30. Raymond on said:

    Can’t wait to see the new jQuery UI. And thanks to you Liferay for taking an interest in this project.

    Here’s to a happy beginning

  31. in that light, it does sound more exciting. My concerns were more that jquery will remain language agnostic and platform impartial.

    I guess time will tell. All that I am saying is, please don’t take the jquery that we have come to use and love away from us. By that, I mean, that I hope it will be the same familiar face that we have always known (albeit grown).

    again, time will tell…

  32. John Smith on said:

    @Nate Cavanaugh

    It has been three months since the jQuery-Liferay partnership announcement and, althought there has been a jQuery UI 1.5b release in mid February, it is still too buggy to be considered for production. As a result, we are still in a position in which there is no UI library we can use with jQuery (Interface’s latest version is a year and a half old and only works with jQuery versions that are more than a year old).

    I have been following the jQuery UI Google group to see if there were any news, but haven’t seen any official news (Paul seems to imply that jQuery UI 1.5 final will be ready in a couple of days or weeks, but I have learned to take these news with a pinch of salt).

    Although I love the way jQuery works, I cannot help feeling envy of the progress other libraries like Dojo or Ext are making. I was hoping that Liferay’s involvement with the jQuery UI project would result in a more fast and transparent development, but after two more months without any news, I am starting to consider shifting my projects to another library. I know I am just a drop in the ocean, but I’m sure other developers feel similarly after a year and a half of so little progress in the jQuery user interface front.