Choosing from the astronomic amount of jQuery plugins to accomplish a particular task can be a daunting task. Many plugins out there do the same task but some are more useful and will spare you some head aches.

  • Do you really need a plugin : A plugin means extra javascript and very often extra styling. See if you can code the desired task with simple jQuery or native javascript.
  • Check version support : Check if the plugin works with the version of jQuery you are using on your site.
  • Check browser support : Test plugin demos on browsers that are of interest to your audience.
  • Visit plugin site : All decent plugins have a home page where you can see if the author is maintaining his work or not. Also check for user feedback and comments, a fast way to evaluate the plugin. Read documentation to see if conflicts exist with other plugins.
  • Check for callbacks : A powerful and well designed plugin will offer callback function parameters where you will be able to put your code after events. This is extremely useful if you want further customization.
  • Graceful degradation/unobtrusive : See how the plugin works and what your users will see if javascript is disabled. A well thought plugin respects content and behavior seperation.
  • Plugin size/performance : If document size is important, check the size of the plugin and also check performance on different browsers.
  • Valid markup : Many plugins inject code in the document. Check to see of the plugin outputs W3C valid markup.

I’m sure there are many other things to check before using a plugin, for example the license. Hope this post will be helpful the next time you want to use a jQuery plugin.