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According to W3Tech, this link, this link, this link, and many other sources, jQuery is really becoming what IE experienced in the world of web browsers (gaining more than 80% of the market for a period).

I don't have the knowledge of any other JavaScript library like MooTools, YUI, etc. because when I started web development, jQuery was already ahead and I chose it.

Are other libraries really that awful, or do they lack something jQuery exclusively has? What is the reason(s) behind this huge market share?

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"what IE experienced in the world of web browsers" What do you mean? –  StuperUser Sep 14 '11 at 10:13
    
@StuperUser, he means a de facto monopoly. –  Kevin Sep 14 '11 at 15:15
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6 Answers

  1. Mission and philosophy: jQuery set out to make DOM manipulation easier to use, and had a single minded focus on achieving that goal. Other frameworks like Mootools and Dojo focused on making it easier to create complex applications, an idea that was ahead of its time (in 2007), and split the attention of the community and created unnecessary complexity for 99% of developers who are not interested in complex applications or advance javascript.

  2. Chaining. jQuery chains, other frameworks didn't. This resulted in a great readability and ease of use revolution as far as javascript is concerned.

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By chaining, do you mean this? mootools.net/docs/core/Class/Class.Extras or is the term overloaded? –  user20134 Sep 14 '11 at 12:27
    
@canisrufus jqueryvsmootools.com/#chaining –  Mark Sep 14 '11 at 12:43
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By chaining what he really means is that you can do something like $('.target').attr({...}).click(function (){...}).fadeIn(); –  Zachary K Sep 14 '11 at 13:59
    
It is my position that the reason that the jQuery API is so nice is that mathematically jQuery is a monad so it follows some very natural rules in terms of composition and such. –  Zachary K Sep 14 '11 at 14:00
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What did it for me is the excellent documentation and terseness of syntax.

Other toolsets don't (didn't?) have the great documentation that jQuery has, and being able to refer to it just using $ is great.

Its use of CSS selector syntax for selection of elements was also something I did not see before and makes it a very low barrier of entry for designers who know CSS really well but not javascript.

And of course an unbelievable amount of plugins.

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Perl is terse. jQuery is concise. –  jiggy Sep 14 '11 at 14:34
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The key to jQuery's popularity, I think, lies in it's visibility.

Once you get into JavaScript in a professional (or "elite enthusiast") way, and you want Awesome Stuff, you look at what other pages with Awesome Stuff on them have used.

"View source" on this very page, for example.

It became popular because it was by far the best around. Now that many have caught up they are behind, and will be behind for a long while, because jQuery already has spread so much. Also, names are important. I entirely skipped "Prototype" because I thought it wasn't finished/stable yet. It's ... just a prototype.

I realize now that I was wrong, of course, but now I'm already super-happy with jQuery.

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One of the reasons why jQuery became so popular is because of its plugin-able nature. It allowed others to build on top of jQuery while the base code remained the same. Of course, being open source and having good documentation support also helped. Adoption from some big companies like Google also fueled its growth.

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jQuery was adopted by large organizations. But what made them adopt this new library? My main reason for falling in love with jQuery was because it fixed all the browser quirks when I found other libraries were buggy at times.

Other pros was it was super easy to pick and use, great documentation and huge amount of free plugins available. It was so easy to find what you need someone in the community had already built a plugin that does what you need using the jQuery library.

It just boils down to ease of use, quick to pick up, thorough documentation, fixes browser quirks, big community base, loads of plugins available and open source of course!

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I am mainly a mootools user so my view may be biased. What makes jQuery so popular is that it's been used in popular web apps at the beginning of the js library days. And you don't have to understand anything to javascript (closures for example) to use it efficiently.

It has a relatively good documentation, lot of live examples and lot of plugins and libraries you can just unzip in your project to use.

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