jQuery is one of the most popular (arguably THE most popular) JavaScript libraries available. For those unfamiliar, a JavaScript library acts similarly to a framework in other programming languages in that it provides a multitude of helper functions and other conventions to make using the language a bit easier. For example, jQuery adds a ‘.hide()’ function that can easily and naturally be called on any element to give it a “display: none;” property. This can be used as opposed to the JavaScript syntax which can be much more convoluted (“document.getElementById(‘div’).style.visibility = ‘visible’;” vs “jQuery(‘div’).hide();”).

Another great aspect of a JavaScript library such as jQuery are the plugins that are developed for them. jQuery has a huge library of plugins to choose from for a wide variety of tasks. A huge advantage to using plugins is that all you have to do is make sure the plugin code is being called by your site either through a dedicated file or through a general plugins.js file and call that plugin with whatever variables are necessary in the $(document).ready main jQuery function. Many web developers (including us here at TM) have a stable of plugins they use when specific functionality is needed on a site. I wanted to share with you some of the plugins we use here on a regular basis in our site builds.

1) jQuery Cycle – We use this plugin primarily to handle rotating banners for our websites (as demonstrated here). This plugin has a huge number of options, display properties and transitions between slides.

2) jQuery maillink – This plugin is handy for hiding email addresses from bots that scrape web pages searching for email addresses to send spam to. Instead of having the typical and non-clickable format of jeff[at]tmprod.com or jeff@tmprod[dot]com, this plugin will take a span and render it into a clickable link on a page that will not be picked up by scrapers.

Before:

jeff at tmprod dot com

After

jeff at tmprod dot com

3) jQuery tweet! – Everyone wants to have a Twitter feed on their site these days. I’m a big fan of the tweet! plugin. It supports displaying tweets from multiple accounts, tweets from Twitter searches, Twitter lists, and a multitude of display options including pages and a scrolling ticker.

4) jQuery ColorBox – It seems every site these days has some sort of pop-up content. This is the plugin I use for this functionality. It can handle YouTube videos, images (both singular and groups of images), and even other html documents . Again, there is a good amount of customization that can be done to the way the pop-up displays with borders and shading and much more.

All of these plugins (and a few more) are included in almost every build we do here at Trademark Productions. They add great functionality without being difficult to use or understand. I’m always on the look-out for other great jQuery plugins. What ones do you use on a regular basis?

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