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User-centric Development in the Early Days of jQuery

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Talk given at jQuery Conf SF 2015.

In the first couple years of jQuery's development it was just one of many JavaScript libraries. The attention that was paid to the potential users of jQuery, attempting to empathize with how they they were developing applications, allowed jQuery to better connect with a greater number of devs. This talk will explore the ways in which this process took place and what the ramifications were of having a user-centric model for open source development.

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User-centric Development in the Early Days of jQuery

  1. 1. User-centric Development in the Early Days of jQuery John Resig
  2. 2. Early JS Libraries • in 2004-2009 the market was very saturated • Dojo Toolkit, Prototype, MochiKit, YUI, MooTools, jQuery • All scratched similar itches (simplifying DOM manipulation)
  3. 3. Assume All Code is Equal… • Given that all the code is “good enough” • How do you differentiate a library? • You focus on all the things that “aren’t code” • Most of these are user-centric and require intimate knowledge of how the user will use your framework
  4. 4. You are your own worst enemy • Virtually every time someone stops using your library it’s your own fault • Something was not communicated clearly enough • You had bugs that the user couldn’t overcome • There were issues that the user didn’t understand and couldn’t find a good answer to
  5. 5. What it all boils down to… • Can you help your users overcome the initial hurdles they overcome - and are you giving them room, and the resources, to grow? • Put yourself in your user’s shoes — empathize with them!
  6. 6. The First Day: Can this help me?H om epage View Tutorial D ow nload TryTutorial Experim ent The First Month: Learning Integration APID ocs Tutorials Experim ent Com m unityThe FirstYear: Growth SecondApp ExploreAPI ExtendAPI Read Source Contribute
  7. 7. The First Day: Can this help me?H om epage View Tutorial D ow nload TryTutorial Experim ent The First Month: Learning Integration APID ocs Tutorials Experim ent Com m unityThe FirstYear: Growth SecondApp ExploreAPI ExtendAPI Read Source Contribute
  8. 8. Lack of Empathy -> Attrition Failure at any step costs your project another user. Your project is your own worst enemy.
  9. 9. The First Day “After spending less than 3 hours reading blog posts and perusing the documentation I was able to do a lot more in a lot less time then ever before. The huge community and neatly organized jQuery plugins make me feel like a sucker for not having jQuery for my pet-project.” http://aleembawany.com/2009/01/16/switching-from-prototype-to-jquery/
  10. 10. Homepage • Set a good first impression • Answer the questions: • What is this? • What can it do for me? • Where can I go to learn more?
  11. 11. Download • Make it super-easy, remove any barriers • (We link straight to the source, no .zip)
  12. 12. Licensing • Not a concern for more people • A huge concern for a lot of corporate users • Use the most-open license possible • Fewest number of restrictions gives you the largest possible market • We us the MIT license for jQuery • “Leave my name on the source file”
  13. 13. Getting Started Tutorial • Clear, focused • Assume no background knowledge
  14. 14. Try the Tutorial • …and subsequent experimentation • All about code quality • For JavaScript libraries: Make sure your code is seamless across browsers • For desktop apps: Is it truly cross-platform? Are there dependencies? • The user should never be forced to ask for help in order to get started • Asking for help “getting started” is a failure case on your end
  15. 15. Simplicity in API Design • Simple APIs are king • Users understand quicker • Get started faster • Become advanced quicker
  16. 16. The First Month “Alright I am now really really into jQuery. I used to hate javascript. WHAT HAS HAPPENED HERE? Javascript people, speak to me.” http://twitter.com/_ralph/status/1123503553
  17. 17. Community Resources • Provides places for users to ask questions • jQuery: • Mailing list -> Forum • IRC Channel • External: • Stack Overflow • Twitter • Blogs
  18. 18. Monitor Your Community • Make sure that everyone is getting the help that they need • Evangelism Team, was run by Rey Bango • Track all of the services they use • Mailing lists, IRC, Blogs, Twitter
  19. 19. Service Treat every user as a potential, future, contributor.
  20. 20. Service • Mike Alsup and Michael Geary both became long-time contributors!
  21. 21. Tracking Twitter • Track people talking about the code • Look for people having trouble, asking questions
  22. 22. Answer Questions • It takes a lot of time but sometimes it’s not worth it • You never know you could be having trouble
  23. 23. Follow-up with Large Users • Maintain a list of contacts with your large users • Ping them every once in a while • Make sure that they’re having a good experience • They frequently forget to file a bugs - make sure that happens
  24. 24. API Documentation • jQuery had API docs from the start (2006) • Two other major libraries: Dojo, Prototype didn’t have any official docs until 2007 • Clarity and usability of documentation is huge
  25. 25. API Example
  26. 26. Alternative Views
  27. 27. Learn More • Tutorials and books • Tutorials are short and drive home a point or single topic • “Books” are more holistic and lead the reader from start to finish
  28. 28. Tutorials
  29. 29. Other “Secondary” Concerns When Coding Responsive Design Internationalization Accessibility Performance/Bandwidth
  30. 30. Release Timing
  31. 31. Overview • Help your users at every step of the way • Track them and help the stragglers • Help them grow and flourish • Questions? • jeresig@gmail.com • http://ejohn.org/ • http://twitter.com/jeresig

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