Fans of jQuery Mobile are in for a treat thanks to a brand new project, coming soon - straight from 'Team Trongate'.

For a very long time, jQuery Mobile has been considered the go-to JavaScript library for website designers who are interested in building websites that have a true 'native mobile' look and feel.

At the moment, the Trongate framework's documentation uses jQuery Mobile and - as far as we can tell - there are a lot of developers out there who like jQuery Mobile.

The problem is, jQuery Mobile has not undergone any significant updates since 2014. Indeed, the last major version appears to have been released as far back as October 2014 (source:

jQuery Mobile occupies a unique space within the web development community. Although there have been attempts to build similar, more modern takes on the concept - nobody has quite managed to pull it off so far. Indeed, based on this article there seems to be some kind of modernization initiative being spoken about. Sadly, it's an initiative that appears to have struggled to get out of the blocks.

If you're reading this and you happen to think that there are other libraries that do the same job as jQuery Mobile then you probably don't understand jQuery Mobile! What jQuery Mobile brings to the table in terms of giving website visitors a true 'native mobile' look and feel is truly unique. It's an outstanding and technically brilliant library. In many respects, jQuery Mobile is ahead of its time. Even just the page transitions alone are industry leading - even today!

Why We Need A New jQuery Mobile Alternative

At the moment, jQuery Mobile is still widely used across the web. It's still a great library! As a matter of fact, it's the best 'mobile CSS library' that we can find. Unfortunately, however, there are three key problems with jQuery Mobile that are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.

Problem 1: jQuery

As the name suggests, jQuery Mobile is built on top of jQuery. Whilst jQuery has a great deal going for it (including outstanding browser compatibility), very sadly the latest jQuery Mobile does not work with the latest jQuery Core. Furthermore, jQuery itself is quite a large codebase. With modern JavaScript, it's possible to achieve the same kind of outcome from a far smaller codebase. Perhaps even more importantly, being tethered to a library that may or may not be upgraded next week is not healthy for any framework.

Problem 2: jQuery Mobile is no longer supported

On the homepage of the jQuery Mobile website - at the time of writing - there's a headline at the top of the page that says, "jQuery Mobile is no longer supported". This one appears to be coming straight from the horse's mouth and for many developers the idea of investing time learning or using a framework or library that has been abandoned is not acceptable.

Problem 3: jQuery Mobile is over-engineered

There's no question that jQuery Mobile has some very technically impressive bells and whistles. Unfortunately, however, having technically impressive bells and whistles does not necessarily make a project desirable to work with. For example, when you're working with jQuery Mobile, figuring out how to have text links behave like ordinary text links (effectively switching off the 'single-page app' effect) is relatively easy but far from obvious. The theme roller is an outstanding piece of engineering but it doesn't really bring anything to the table that couldn't be covered with a half page of good notes on how to manage colour schemes. Furthermore, is having three themes (A, B and C) really what most developers want? We're not sure!

Perhaps even more importantly - not only is the amount JavaScript code required to make jQuery Mobile work massive, the actual HTML code required to have pages behave the way you might like is slightly messy.

Why Has Nobody Written A Modern jQuery Mobile Yet?

Given the fact that jQuery Mobile remains one of the most popular web development libraries in the history of... web development libraries(!), it's reasonable to ask,

"How come nobody has produced a modern rewrite of jQuery Mobile so far?"

The answer to this question is almost certainly that jQuery Mobile gives users a massive assortment of CSS and JavaScript libraries that would take an average professional developer several months to build. We're speaking, here, about features like pop-up calendars, time-pickers and slide navigation menus. These are features that jQuery Mobile could afford to use thanks to the jQuery ecosystem. However, the idea of having a single developer - or even a team of developers - building those kinds of assets from scratch seems almost unthinkable. Not only would it represent an enormous task - it would also be generally unrewarding since those kinds of features aren't directly solving the kinds of problems that jQuery Mobile solves. In short, rebuilding jQuery Mobile is a task that would be:

  • massive

  • miserable

  • mundane

Team Trongate To the Rescue!

Fortunately, many of the 'bedrock' assets that are required to build a library - like jQuery Mobile - are assets that the Trongate ecosystem already has.

Trongate already has; date-pickers, time-pickers, file-uploaders and much more.

Having our own JavaScript libraries as well as our own CSS library puts Trongate in a unique position. By taking advantage of some of Trongate's already built assets, we're confident of a fast build time. This is something we can do without using jQuery and without using any third-party code!

Moreover, we've found a way to build a modern take on jQuery Mobile that is considerably more streamlined than the original jQuery Mobile. That means a library that is much smaller, much easier to use and - like Trongate - built to last. This new project - code named, 'Vanilla Mobile' - will require far less code than the original jQuery Mobile. However, the HTML will also be cleaner. In short, there will be less to learn and less opportunity for things to break.

The new library will NOT be called jQuery Mobile - nor will it be in any way affiliated with jQuery Mobile. However, it will be a fully open source project and we make no secret of the fact that this library will effectively be our attempt to produce a modern rewrite of jQuery Mobile. By the way, if you happen to be from the jQuery Mobile team and you're reading this - please do feel welcome to get in touch and get on board. Our ideal outcome would be for somebody else to rewrite jQuery Mobile but without the jQuery! Sadly, that doesn't appear to be happening. Therefore, as fans of jQuery Mobile, we've decided to run with this. We are, however, eager to make room for and welcome any developers who wish to contribute - especially if they are from the original jQuery Mobile team.

The fundamentals of the library are already built and we already have a name, courtesy of Mike Heath. However, we have a few more things to score off the to-do list before the new library is in a ready-to-launch state. A modern re-take of jQuery Mobile is long overdue and - hopefully - this will be a project that will be welcomed by developers who love jQuery Mobile as much as we do.

Launch is expected within the next four weeks.