New Command-Line jQuery Tool

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Update: I have completely refactored jcheat and added substantial new functionality, including a ton of filters that can be used in any combination. Do a gem update and run jcheat -h for full usage details.

I released a new tool, jquery-cheat, that allows you to get information about the jQuery API directly from the command-line. You can get the description of a function, a list of functions in each module, search the list of all function descriptions for a string, get a list of all functions whose name match a string, and some other cool tricks.

Some examples:

# jcheat desc clearForm
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Name:         clearForm()
Description:  Clears the form data.
              
Details:      Clears the form data.  Takes the following actions on the
              form's input fields:  - input text fields will have their
              'value' property set to the empty string  - select elements
              will have their 'selectedIndex' property set to -1  - checkbox
              and radio inputs will have their 'checked' property set to
              false  - inputs of type submit, button, reset, and hidden will
              *not* be effected  - button elements will *not* be effected
              
Returns:      jQuery
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|                                   EXAMPLES                                   |
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
---------------
| Description |
---------------
Clears all forms on the page.

--------
| Code |
--------
$('form').clearForm();

# jcheat namelike $.ajax
$.ajaxTimeout(time) in Ajax
$.ajaxSetup(settings) in Ajax
$.ajax(properties) in Ajax

# jcheat like clear field
clearForm() in Plugins/Form
clearFields() in Plugins/Form

You can grab the tool by doing:

gem install jquery-cheat -y

The -y is so that it automatically includes hpricot, a required dependency.

jQuery Dashboard Widget

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jQuery Widget

Ryan Dunphey has just released a brand new jQuery Dashboard Widget that you can use to browse the jQuery API, even when you’re not connected to the Internet. You can download the, sharply designed, widget from jQuery SVN.

If you’re interested in doing some dashboard development (and especially widget development using jQuery), you can learn from this widget, as the full source code of it is in the jQuery SVN repository.

This fantastic work (and the subsequent open source release of the widget) was sponsored by Ryan’s employer, Medallia. Incidentally, if you’re interested in getting paid to do some jQuery coding, Medallia has a Front-End Developer position open.

Servers, servers, and donations

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The jQuery services are mostly back to normal now, John has since moved the jQuery SVN to Google Code and is working to move the remaining mailing lists to Google Groups. So, the most important parts have weathered the recent server move, no problem.

Of course, moving providers when a dedicated server is required usually brings with it a significant investment of capital. With that, we wanted to thank the jQuery community for springing to life and donating generously to help with the transition. In fact, the donations completely cover the initial cost of the new server.

Obviously, we don’t really push for donations around here, so it’s great to see so many lend a helping hand. Thank you all.

And now for some extra-good news!

MT hearts jQuery

Media Temple has stepped up to donate a great hosting package, to jQuery, complete with the industry-recognized support reputation preceding them. We anticipate being fully up-and-running on their hardware in the coming months, and welcome this new partnership and the benefits it will bring the jQuery community.

Help Test jQuery 1.1.3

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A test build of the upcoming 1.1.3 release is ready for everyone to try. We need to be super-sure that there haven’t been any regressions in this release, and in order to do that we’d like you to download this alpha release and try it in place of jQuery 1.1.2 (wherever you may be using it).

Download the test release:


Here’s what you can do to help:

  1. Download the test release of jQuery 1.1.3
  2. Temporarily replace your copy of jQuery 1.1.2 with this test release in some of your web pages
  3. If something is now broken, please submit a ticket letting us know what happened. The more specific you can be, the better (demos or test cases are highly desired).

Note Pay special attention to Events, Selectors, and Animations; significant changes happened in all three of those areas, so if there’s any place where a regression is possible, it would be more likely to occur in there.

Once we’re confident that there’s no new bugs, we’ll be releasing jQuery 1.1.3 fully (hopefully some time this week).

jQuery Session at RailsConf

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RailsConf 2007

I’m happy to announce that my proposal for a Birds of a Feather session about “jQuery on Rails” at RailsConf has been accepted!

If you’re at RailsConf, please come by room c125 on Thursday night at 9:30pm and join in the discussion. I’ll be chatting about my ongoing work on jQuery on Rails, and should have some code to demo if anyone would be interested.

If you’re interested in hearing about how others have solved problems regarding the integration of jQuery with Rails, or just want to share something cool you’ve done, swing on by. See you there!

More Details

Yehuda has just posted more details on how jQuery on Rails works:

Since I last publicly discussed jQuery on Rails, I’ve gone down a lot of avenues, and written a lot of code, and came to some conclusions:

  • jQuery and Unobtrusive JavaScript are fundamentally incompatible with an attempt to describe behavior inside markup, as Rails does via “JavaScript helpers.”
  • Attempts to fix the problem, specifically UJS for Rails, still require that you include your JS behaviors in your views, which are then marshalled into JavaScript files on the fly (and cached as appropriate). If you wanted to include the same JS behavior in multiple pages, you’d need to create custom helpers and call out to them.
  • jQuery is already the perfect mechanism for unobtrusive JavaScript, baked right into the library
  • The biggest problem faced by jQuery developers is not simplicity (which, again, you get for free in the library), but difficulty in including the correct jQuery “modules” in the Rails views that require them.

The most common problem with using jQuery with Rails in an app of moderate or higher complexity is the trade-off between including everything in a single application.js (which can lead to serious slowdowns in larger apps) and having multiple, modular files (which are a serious pain to include correctly as needed).

This is a problem for jQuery users who want to use Rails more than Rails users who are used to Prototype helpers and want to be able to use the jQuery library as a drop-in replacement. In the first release of jQuery on Rails, I will be targeting jQuery developers who want to work with Rails. In other words, jQuery on Rails is for you if you know jQuery or are willing to use jQuery.

This release of jQuery is not for you if you don’t want to learn jQuery, and want to program purely in Ruby. There will be a future release that will include some features for pure-Ruby developers, but I maintain that Unobtrusive JavaScript is fundamentally incompatible with that mode of thinking.

With all that said, what does jQuery on Rails actually do?

First up, it’s a Rails plugin, which you activate by adding <%= include_jquery %> in your application.rhtml. When your server is started, it’ll parse all of your JavaScript files, and identify selectors in those files. When include_jquery is called in your layout, it’ll get the rendered HTML and use Hpricot (which shares syntax with jQuery) to determine whether any instances of the selectors identified on server startup are present.

The JavaScript files that have selectors that are also present in your HTML will be loaded, and run as expected.

So in short:

  • Create your JavaScript files, using selectors as usual
  • Use include_jquery in your layout
  • You’re done

Fisheye Dock Menu

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Fisheye Dock Menu

With a little bit of nice theming, the Fisheye component from Interface has been adapted to build a beautiful “CSS dock menu“. It’s currently making all the rounds on design blogs and on Digg.

Some more information about what this menu was designed for can be found on the developer’s site:

If you are a big Mac fan, you will love this CSS dock menu that I designed. It is using jQuery JavaScript library and Fisheye component from Interface and some of my icons. It comes with two dock styles – top and bottom. This CSS dock menu is perfect to add on to my WordPress iTheme. Here I will show you how to implement it to your web page.

Learning jQuery Book Details

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This week Jonathan Chaffer and I finished the book’s first draft and sent the last chapter to the publisher, so I thought I’d take this opportunity before the revisions start rolling in to provide some more details. The book’s full title is Learning jQuery: Better Interaction Design and Web Development with Simple JavaScript Techniques. Learning jQuery bookAs the subtitle suggests, we’ve written the book to be accessible to those with a web-design background who haven’t had much, if any experience, with coding. But we think it will provide plenty of useful information for intermediate-level scripters as well.

The book is being published by PACKT Publishing, based in Manchester Birmingham, UK. They’re a relative newcomer to the publishing world, but already they’ve managed to put together a pretty impressive group of books, many of which explore open-source software projects. They seem passionate about supporting these projects beyond publishing books about them. In fact, they’ve introduced a royalty scheme that gives a percentage of sales to the open-source project that a book is written about. So, if you buy this book, you’ll be directly supporting the jQuery project. :)

The expected publication date is sometime this July, and the book is already available for pre-order at a 20% discount. The publisher plans to sell a PDF-version of the book, too, but they haven’t set it up for pre-order just yet.

Barring the unlikely major structural change during our revision phase, the (concise) table of contents should look like something like this:

  1. Introducing jQuery
    1. Getting Started
  2. Exploring jQuery
    1. Selectors, or How to Get Anything You Want
    2. Events, or How to Pull the Trigger
    3. Effects, or How to Add Flair to Your Actions
    4. DOM Manipulation, or How to Change Your Page on Command
    5. AJAX, or How to Make Your Site Buzzword Compliant
  3. Using jQuery
    1. Table Manipulation
    2. Forms with Function
    3. Shufflers and Rotators
  4. Examining jQuery
    1. Selector Expressions
    2. DOM Traversal Methods
    3. DOM Manipulation Methods
    4. Event Methods
    5. Effect Methods
    6. AJAX Methods
    7. Miscellaneous Methods
    8. Plug-ins
  5. Appendices
    1. Online Resources
    2. Development Tools
    3. JavaScript Closures

Update:

We’re making good progress on the revisions, and it looks like we’re going to hit our target publication date of July. The publisher has just made the PDF version of the book available for pre-order at a 15% discount. Also, they have a “Book and eBook Bundle” at an enormously discounted price (US $36.79).

Google Groups and Amazon S3

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Two new improvements have just gone into place to help improve the quality of the jQuery site.

The jQuery Mailing List is now hosted with Google Groups.

This move is going to help provide huge increases in the overall speed, and quality, of the jQuery mailing list. At the time of the move we were sending out, approximately, 4.5m emails per month. Unfortunately, the list was prone to folding under the high server load; and the amount of effort required to keep it performing nicely was simply too much to ignore.

The best feature of the new mailing list (besides the increased reliability) is the addition of Google Groups’ wonderful web-based interface. I hope that everyone who’s asked for a forum can now be content knowing that they can browse the jQuery list, and easily reply to posts, without ever having to subscribe to incoming messages.

Note: If you were a member of the old mailing list, you should be completely moved to the new one. All old messages and users were moved over, and everything should be intact.

Complete instructions on how to use the main discussion mailing list, and all the other jQuery mailing lists, can be found on here: jQuery Mailing Lists.

All code is now hosted with Amazon S3.

As a project, we’ve never discouraged first time users from using the jQuery Source Code straight from their personal site; it helps to get new users started with development, without having to worry about keeping their code up to date.

Needless to say, the number of users who’ve directly used the jQuery source directly from the jQuery site has increased dramatically in recent months (with some large-scale sites directly pulling from jQuery.com). This still isn’t a huge problem, but it’s something that the web server hosting jQuery.com shouldn’t have to worry about. For that reason, all jQuery source code has been moved to Amazon S3, for example: http://code.jquery.com/jquery-latest.js.

The jQuery site has been using the code directly from Amazon S3 for over two weeks now and I’ve been very pleased with the results. The number of files requested has dropped dramatically, giving the web server more time to serve the normal jQuery web pages.

Note: All old requests to http://jquery.com/src/… are being redirected to the http://code.jquery.com/… sub-domain (which is managed by Amazon).

A nice thing about this move is that we can soon start providing dedicated hosting for plugins. Once we figure out the logistics of the plugin repository (which is currently under development), we’ll be sure to make that a priority.

Additionally, static jQuery.com files (like stylesheets, images, and JavaScript files) are being hosted directly from Amazon S3 too (static.jquery.com). This is also helping to alleviate any strain on the server that may be present.

As always, if you get any errors on the jQuery site, please be sure to send a message to the mailing list, where we can find it and help to solve the problem.

1.1.3 News

All of these site issues have delayed jQuery 1.1.3 slightly, but now that they’re out of the way we should be back on track for having a 1.1.3 alpha out by the end of this week. This update is going to include significant updates to the performance of jQuery animations and huge speed increases to the selector engine; as well as fixing over 20 outstanding bugs. We hope to have an update concerning all of this, shortly.

jQuery Book Coming Soon

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For those of you who have been following the jQuery blog the past couple months, you may have noticed John Resig’s mention of a secret: “There’s a jQuery book in the works!” Well, I am thrilled to be able to leak a little more information about that secret.

For the past few months my friend Jonathan Chaffer and I have been hard at work on the book, and everything is progressing well. Our writing is being supported by a stellar group of technical reviewers, some of whom are members of the jQuery development team. We’ll be able to divulge details about the book’s contents soon. The publisher is readying a web page for it, so as soon as that is completed, we can give you the full scoop.

About the Authors

Jonathan Chaffer is a long-time Drupal contributor and creator of Drupal’s CCK. He also likes to make up bizarre band names and album titles, based on snippets of conversations he overhears, at Tweak the Viking. Karl Swedberg (that’s me) is a jQuery zealot who runs the Learning jQuery blog and still tries to keep a bit of his former career as an English teacher alive at his other blog, English Rules. Jonathan and Karl work together at Structure Interactive in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they have been given a lot of freedom to use jQuery, as well as standards-based, semantic HTML & CSS, in many of their projects.

SXSWi jQuery Meetup

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Right now the annual SXSWi conference is happening in beautiful, sunny, Austin, Texas. Interestingly enough, there’s a ton of jQuery users here (as am I). I’ve already had the opportunity to talk with a number of you, but we should really do a proper get together.

As proposed by Luke Lutman, on the mailing list, and Cody Lindley (of Thickbox fame) – let’s do a meetup! Let’s say Monday (Mar 12th) at lunch. Meet at the main doors facing the Courtyard Hotel. If you have any troubles, feel free to give me a call at 585-615-5287 and I’ll direct you in.

I’m looking forward to meeting everyone!

See Also: http://upcoming.org/event/162778/

Update: Just to clarify, this is at 12:30pm (after the 11:30am-12:30pm session ends). And the doors are at the corner of Trinity and and Fourth St. I’ll be wearing a bright red Atari T-Shirt, so I should be easy to spot.