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Why I Migrated to jQuery Mobile

The Problem

When I originally built the mobile version of BeersAndbuds.com (a beer enthusiast’s website), I mistakingly kept the majority of the heavily-used AJAX infrastructure in place. I did so, because it sped development, but it had plenty of adverse effects. Slow load times, browser cache issues, and inconsistent performance all produced a sluggish and painful user experience.

When finally found the time, I needed to find a platform that was built, from the ground up, for the mobile device. It needed to be fast, clean, and preferably, simple to work with and maintain. Also, it would be nice to have a little UI help as my Photoshop days are well in the rear-view mirror.

I considered a couple options. Option one, tweak and modify my existing scripts and styles to produce a faster mobile site — obviously, I had already failed here, so that one was out. Option two, Sencha touch, formerly EXTjs — although I’ve heard great things about it, I felt it would’ve been a better choice for a complete rebuild since I would need to both learn a new API and refactor the entire user interface.

jQuery Mobile, a Fit

jQuery Mobile seemed like a natural fit. I wouldn’t need to completely refactor my application’s views nor would I need learn a new javascript library. It was super easy to install and came with excellent documentation. It also provides a comprehensive set of fancy looking mobile controls, ranging from simple buttons to elaborate icon based toolbars. I particularly liked it’s animated view transistions and timely loading dialogs — all integrated natively into the library.

Why it worked

  • It’s fast (and simple)
  • It has excellent documentation
  • It’s cross platform
  • It has very mobile looking controls
  • It’s easy for anyone who has a basic knowledge of HTML, CSS & JS

Has anyone had good results with Sencha or other mobile-focused JS platforms?

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