Portrait of Edd Dumbill, taken by Giles Turnbull

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a conference management web application

XTech Conference
a European web technology conference

JavaScript frameworks, new heroes of the web

Makers of Dojo, Prototype, jQuery and Mochikit, I salute you.

It is immensely gratifying that there are those with the courage and sense to make JavaScript in the browser workable for the rest of us. Like many busy developers, I've steered myself away from hacking JavaScript for many years. Cross-browser incompatibilities, the troubles of debugging and the relatively small reward for effort have kept me focusing on the server side (not to mention the temptation JavaScript poses to those prone to stray from the REST religion).

This is now starting to change. The immense efforts of JavaScript developers are providing frameworks that allow developers to work on the client side with something approaching the elegance and concision that we can now wield on the server side.

One of the wonderful things about the web is that it has become the forum for its own improvement. JavaScript has ensured that this is now true of the browser too. New techniques can be proved in script before they ever need baking into a markup language.

Even the most ardent of declarative programming hacks will appreciate the way toolkits such as jQuery allow painting of behaviour onto pages rather than littering semantic markup with snippets of script.

The problem that faces us now is: which JavaScript framework to choose?

As is my habit in programming languages, I've found myself move from framework to framework depending on the actual tools available. Starting off in Prototype as it came with Rails, paying a happy visit to jQuery because of Thickbox, considering Dojo because of its rich text editor, and now being wowed by Plotkit and thus checking out Mochikit.

So, here's an idea for aspiring XTech presenters: we'd love to hear more about these toolkits. Experiences, future plans for the kits themselves, and how developers should choose between them.

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