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Looking at jQuery for visual journalism

With all this talk about the so-called death of Adobe Flash, the future of HTML5, etc., I thought I should take a closer look at jQuery. This post is intended to give you an overview and help you decide whether you too should take a closer look.

My first thought is that if you have weak skills in CSS (or no CSS skills at all), you can’t even think about using jQuery. You would need to improve your CSS skills before you tackled jQuery.

With that out of the way (sorry if that ruined your day), let’s note that:

  • jQuery is JavaScript.
  • jQuery is free and not a commercial product.
  • The home and source of jQuery is jQuery.com. You can download it there.

As an introduction, I really liked this: jQuery Tutorials for Designers. It shows you what jQuery makes possible on today’s Web pages, and even if you don’t want to look at the code, you can open each of the 10 examples and click and see what it does. So in about 15 minutes, you will have a better idea about jQuery’s usefulness.

This example is my favorite: Image Replacement. It’s simple, and it’s really easy to apply this to all kinds of visual journalism situations that an online designer might encounter.

Many of the other examples are things I wouldn’t bother to do on Web pages, even though they look cool. I was reminded of how a lot of people are saying Flash is unnecessary because you can do all the menu effects and flyovers with JavaScript instead. These examples prove that. Of course, my view of Flash is not to use it for eye candy (like most of these jQuery examples), but instead to use it for complex explanatory journalism, like this.

For a very nice slideshow built with jQuery, see this tutorial: Create a Slick and Accessible Slideshow Using jQuery.

There’s also a nifty jQuery plug-in for making a slideshow: Coda-Slider (thanks to Lauren Rabaino for that link!).

Here’s another good tutorial for a slideshow: Automatic Image Slider w/ CSS & jQuery.

For the geeks among you, read why you should link to Google’s copy of jQuery instead of using a version on your own Web host.

And finally, the ever-helpful Chrys Wu (@MacDivaONA) recommended these free video tutorials for learning jQuery.

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