One web programming framework I have come to love is jQuery. This is a JavaScript (JS) library, meaning essentially it’s a bunch of pre-coded JS that makes it far easier to do complex client-side functions and animations (i.e. right on your browser). jQuery extends the “normal” functions of JS such that it makes use of CSS selectors, which makes it easy to use– and in addition, it gives you tons of out-of-the-box capabilities, such as drag-and-drop and custom Flash-like animations– on, of course, an HTML website.

Another great thing about jQuery is the plugins available. There are literally hundreds of free, open-source (just as jQuery itself is) plugins that build on jQuery’s capabilities.

One I just discovered is called “Ajax Fancy Captcha“, which gives you a really unique and fun CAPTCHA (which is the anti-spam method you see on many web forms). It’s still being developed and improved, but it’s a great idea. Other jQuery plugins include Cycle for slide shows and Step Carousel for image carousels, Lightbox, and Shadowbox.

jQuery is available to download free at jquery.com, and plugins can be viewed and downloaded here.