commit 2ddda0072ca733166e227c008b555273393bfbc3
Author: James Halliday
Date: Thu Apr 11 19:05:41 2013 -0700

Tiny reusable components are great for organizing and reusing front-end code but some dependencies like jquery will make a tiny frontend module much bigger and more cumbersome than it needs to be.

Unfortunately introducing a dependency on a big library like jquery in your frontend code can make it very unattractive for consumers of your module.

As programmers build up applications up from lots of tiny components, if every component included a vendored jquery version, the total javascript size quickly baloons into multi-megabytes. When the jquery version gets pegged, version incompatibilities arise that likewise create redundancy issues. When the jquery version is left to float or its use is demanded externally in the documentation, this also does not scale well and makes it cumbersome and error-prone to use tiny pieces.

Getting away from jquery is attractive even if you have an existing application where its use is more controlled so that it's only ever used once. When your code isn't coupled to jquery, it's much easier to spin out the reusable pieces so you can publish them to package repositories like npm. When it's harder to split out reusable pieces, those pieces tend to calcify and become tightly coupled to your application.

But jquery is genuinely very useful and familiar to lots of folks! Fortunately browsers have taken notice and the DOM itself is a pretty friendly place too these days.

Here is a list of common jquery features and their raw DOM replacements:

To query for elements based on css selectors, instead of:

$('.foo .bar')

to get a single element, do:

document.querySelector('.foo .bar')

and to get a list of elements do:

document.querySelectorAll('.foo .bar')

To do a nested search using css selectors, instead of:


you can do:


which works in IE8 and up.

To register events, in IE9 and up just do:

element.addEventListener('click', fn)

or for IE8 you can do:

element.attachEvent('onclick', fn)

To set attributes, instead of

$(element).attr(key, value)


element.setAttribute(key, value)

This works in all browsers.

To set css styles, instead of:

$(element).css(name, value)

you can do:[name] = value

This should work in all browsers but note that you'll sometimes need to attach the element to the document body before its style property will be set. You can if (! = {} to get around that.

To create nodes, instead of:

var div = $('<div>')

you can do:

var div = document.createElement('div')

To append elements, instead of:




This works in all browsers.

To prepend elements, instead of:



a.insertBefore(b, a.childNodes[0])

This works in all browsers.

To update html, instead of:



element.innerHTML = htmlString

This works in all browsers.

To set the text content of nodes without html tag interpolation, instead of:


you can do:

element.textContent = textString

which works in IE9+ or you can do:

element.textContent = element.innerText = textString

or you can do:


which should both work in all browsers.

To remove an element, instead of:


you can do:


which should work in all browsers.

To empty out the inner contents of an element, instead of:


the easiest thing is just to do:

element.innerHTML = ''

This works in all browsers.

For more advanced functionality, you can use modules published to npm. For example, to do ajax, instead of:

$.post('/form', { name: 'John', time: '2pm' })
.done(function(data) {
    console.log('data=' + data);

you can use tiny modules like hyperquest, querystring, and concat-stream,

var hq = require('hyperquest');
var qs = require('querystring');
var concat = require('concat-stream');

var req ='/form');
req.pipe(concat(function (err, data) {
    console.log('data=' + data);
req.end(qs.stringify({ name: 'John', time: '2pm' }));

Once you've installed npm and browserify you can do:

$ npm install hyperquest concat-stream
$ browserify main.js > bundle.js

and then just put a <script src="bundle.js"></script> into your html.

You can use the same tools to organize your code and to replace things like jquery plugins in favor of tiny composable modules published to npm.

As a bonus, you can run the main.js code that does an HTTP POST in node without any changes. This is very useful for tests and having the same libraries at your disposal in node and the browser means your code will be more reusable across different environments.

For fancy things like animation libraries make sense but for basic stuff like simple dom manipulation the browser already provides you with some really good primitives. Plus there is a great emerging ecosystem of tiny packages that do one thing well to fill in the gaps.

git clone