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Min read

jQuery is slow

Donald Ng
December 9, 2023
5-star rating
Reviews on Capterra

The emergence of jQuery in 2006 was a revolution. Its syntax and ease of use brought JavaScript into the hands of the masses.

From its debut, jQuery became the go-to library for countless JavaScript tasks. Yet, as time has passed, the JavaScript landscape has evolved.

Modern JavaScript features and libraries have emerged that present compelling alternatives to jQuery. This has led some developers to argue that jQuery is too slow and it’s time to move on.

The Ease of jQuery

There’s no denying that jQuery made complex functionality more accessible and eliminated many cross-browser inconsistencies. For example, fetching and manipulating HTML elements – a notoriously verbose task in Vanilla JavaScript – could be done with just a single line of
jQuery $('[data-custom-attribute]').

Similarly, the AJAX API made asynchronous requests, and the associated callback management, a breeze.

These abstractions, among others, made jQuery a trusted companion for many a web developer. However, with advances in JavaScript, has the time come to part ways with jQuery?

The Performance Overhead Of jQuery

First, let’s address a common argument against jQuery: its performance.

jQuery faces criticism for being slow when compared to native JavaScript or modern JavaScript libraries. The truth is, that some operations are slower in jQuery because they carry the additional overhead of jQuery’s convenience methods.

Could you take, for instance, the example of selecting an element by a data attribute, as mentioned before? jQuery’s $('[data-custom-attribute]') will generally be slower than the corresponding native JavaScript document.querySelectorAll('[data-custom-attribute]').

The time difference may be minimal and negligible in small-scale operations. However, repetitively or in larger applications, this overhead adds up, slowing down the total execution time.

Modern JavaScript Alternatives

Fortunately, modern JavaScript offers alternatives that are both efficient and elegant. The querySelectorAll function mentioned earlier is one such example.

Modern JavaScript introduces tons of built-in methods that simplify the developer’s life, reducing the necessity for jQuery’s conveniences. String and Array’s manipulation have been made easier, and the Fetch API has replaced AJAX for handling network requests, among other innovations.

Contemporary JavaScript Frameworks

The rise of modern JavaScript frameworks like React, Vue, and Angular has done a lot to make jQuery obsolete. These libraries offer a more structured and scalable approach to building user interfaces with JavaScript, and they include their own tooling and conventions for managing state, controlling DOM updates, and handling events.

Using one of these frameworks often involves a slight learning curve compared to jQuery. However, the benefits they provide—like robustness, component modularization, better performance, and scalability—give them a clear edge.

A/B Testing Platforms Moving Away from jQuery

The performance issues associated with jQuery have not only sent ripples through the developer community but have also impacted various industries leveraging web technologies. A noteworthy industry is the realm of A/B testing platforms.

A/B testing tools employ JavaScript extensively to vary content, track user interactions, and gather data. Therefore, performance and speed are of the essence to ensure accurate results and a seamless user experience.

Over the years, several reputable A/B testing platforms such as VWO,, and CrazyEgg have been using jQuery as a part of their JavaScript tracking and manipulation scripts. However, the increased awareness about jQuery’s performance overhead has led many platforms to reconsider their scripts’ dependence on jQuery. Some have chosen to partially reduce their reliance on this library, while others have abandoned it altogether.

An outstanding example of this shifting trend is the A/B testing platform In an impressive feat, managed to develop their script without any dependence on jQuery. The result was a script size that’s 10 times smaller than their jQuery reliant counterparts. This size reduction directly translates to faster load times, improved script performance, and ultimately, a superior user experience.

By eschewing jQuery, and other similar platforms have been able to break away from the heavy chains of jQuery’s overhead. This trend signifies a broader movement towards embracing modern JavaScript’s capabilities and performance potential, even in niches where jQuery was historically favored. It gives a powerful testament to the benefits of adopting more modern, purpose-built JavaScript tools and methodologies.

Is jQuery Still Relevant?

This is not to say that jQuery is entirely obsolete. It still has its merits and is being used in many legacy systems. If you’re working on a system where jQuery is deeply integrated or are doing a fairly simple, small-scaled project, sticking to jQuery might make more sense.

However, for developers looking to become more competitive in the current landscape or starting on a fresh, large-scaled project, it’s time to embrace the modern JavaScript or any contemporary frameworks.

JQuery served us well in the past, but the web has evolved, and it’s time we did too. Modern JavaScript alternatives, built on the state-of-the-art specifications and technologies, are faster, more powerful, and arguably just as—if not more—convenient and readable as jQuery.

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