JavaScript Libraries for the Discriminating Web Developer: jQuery, Google Web Toolkit, MooTools and Prototype

By Scott Clark

In our last article we looked at YUI, Dojo and Echo, three JavaScript libraries that can simplify your life as a developer. In this article we'll look at four more libraries: jQuery, Google Web Toolkit, MooTools and Prototype.

jQuery JavaScript Library

The jQuery JavaScript Library is billed as "the write less, do more" library that "simplifies HTML document traversing, event handling, animating, and Ajax interactions for rapid web development." Like some of the other libraries we have discussed in our previous article, it is CSS3 compliant, and works across most, if not all of the current web browsers. A new version, jQuery Mobile, was just released that enables developers to write their code once and deploy across mobile and smartphone platforms.

Here are some articles we have published here on HTMLGoodies on the topic of jQuery:

Google Web Toolkit

Google Web Toolkit (GWT) is, as you would expect, a development toolkit that is used to create and optimize web apps. GWT is the meat behind some of the tools that you are likely to be familiar with from Google, such as Google Wave and AdWords. Like the other tools we have discussed, GWT is open source and free to use.

Unlike the other frameworks, GWT apps are written in Java, and then compiled to become highly optimized JavaScript that works equally well in all browsers, as well as mobile devices such as the Android and iPhone.

Although everything you need to create apps using the GWT is included in the download, most folks prefer to use it with an integrated development environment (IDE) such as Eclipse. Eclipse is a Java-based IDE that is also free, and it is available for specific purposes such as Java, C/C++, PHP, JavaScript and more.

The GWT is installed as a plugin for Eclipse, and is installed through a web-based process--once you have installed Eclipse, you just visit the Google Plugin for Eclipse 3.6 page and following the prompts.


Geared towards the intermediate to advanced JavaScript developer, MooTools is an Object-Oriented JavaScript framework that allows developers to write powerful, flexible code that works across all major web browsers. By adhering to strict web standards, MooTools code doesn't create any error messages to annoy your site's visitors, and it's written to be easy for developers to follow and understand.

MooTools also has a demo area where they demonstrate various aspects of MooTools, including Basis, Events, Effects, Requests and Plugins. Like GWT, there is plenty of documentation on the site, as well as a lively developer community.


Prototype is yet another JavaScript framework that enables developers to more easily create dynamic web apps. One of the features that stands out with Prototype is the extensive Ajax library that it features. The largest part of the Prototype framework are extensions to the Document Object Model (DOM).

There is an active Prototype Mailing List for those who are interested in knowing more about the Prototype library, as well as a Prototype Linkedin Group and Facebook Group.


We've shown you six JavaScript libraries and frameworks that can simplify your life as a developer, and help you to create compelling web-based applications that work across all browsers as well as mobile devices. Next week we'll delve into several of these JavaScript frameworks, and we'll create a sample application, complete with example code.

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