jQuery Plugins Site Alternatives

2011-12-06 00:00:00 +0000 by Alex R. Young
Note: You can send your plugins and articles in for review through our [contact form](/contact.html) or [@dailyjs](http://twitter.com/dailyjs).

The jQuery plugins site is currently down. The intention is to replace
it with a better site. However, is a replacement even necessary? When
researching our weekly jQuery Roundup articles I rarely use the jQuery
plugins site.

Fortunately, there are alternatives, and they're arguably more friendly
to front-end developers.

Hosting Code

Guess what? I don't want to download a zip file from your website.

Most plugins I encounter are found through
GitHub. With a free GitHub account, open source projects get version control, issue tracking, and a wiki. Another useful
service for plugin developers is GitHub
which can be used to host site for your
plugin, including any documentation and code examples. GitHub is
essentially a complete service for plugin developers.

And believe it or not, GitHub recently announced a client-side editor in
Edit like an Ace. Even if you're a less technically-minded client-side developer, you can now
edit code through GitHub without even learning how git works. Although,
GitHub has solid documentation, I'd still recommend learning the basics.

If a web-based editor appeals to you, then why not give Cloud9
a try? It can integrate with GitHub, and allows free
public project creation which is perfect for open source projects. Old
fashioned Vim/Emacs die-hard like me might be suspicious of services
like Cloud9, but if it works for you then use it!

There are GitHub alternatives, including
Bitbucket and Google Code.

Issue Tracking

Allow people to get help when things go wrong. Writing client-side code
is an art, and it's likely that no matter how well-tested your plugin
is, it'll have a few bugs.

If you're looking for issue tracking outside of what the version control
services offer, then Lighthouse is a good
choice because it allows free open source issue tracking. I've also
noticed open source developers using Pivotal


There are curated jQuery plugin lists out there. The jQuery Handpicked
Plugin Repository
is one such list, which
features a plugin demo browser. Writing to the authors of such lists, or
sites like DailyJS, is a perfectly acceptable way to promote your
plugin. In fact, if you don't send me your plugins, it's unlikely that
I'll ever find them!

Writers like myself will look at several indicators to determine if our
readership will be interested in a given plugin, and if it's a new
plugin that's poorly packaged then I'm unlikely to cover it. I also
quickly download plugins and try them out, but a demo page is preferred
because it saves me the effort of downloading a plugin and creating a
suitable mock HTML page to run it.

Another useful way to host demos is to use
jsFiddle. It's a convenient way of bundling and running HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. A project README file that links to a
demo on jsFiddle is perfectly acceptable.

It's also possible that you could write a tutorial for your plugin and
syndicate it. Lots of blogs and dedicated tutorial sites are looking for
content like this. Editors generally prefer it if the content is unique,
so write to your favourite blogs with a tutorial pitch before committing
to writing anything. If you don't mind putting the effort in and not
getting published, it only takes a few minutes to set up a free blog and
post your own tutorials and news.

Open source projects were traditionally promoted through receptive
mailing lists. This is still common in some circles -- I often look for
[announce] posts on popular JavaScript mailing lists. The
equivalent for jQuery is the Using jQuery
, according to the jQuery

Using jQuery: [...] if you've built a site that uses jQuery, or would like to announce a new plugin, this is the place to do it.


Beyond curated plugin lists and blogs, a good way to discover new
plugins is social bookmarking sites. The
pinboard.in/t:jquery link is the first autocomplete item in my browser address bar when I type 'pi'. The reason
for this is Pinboard has a good signal to noise ratio.

Example: Chosen

Chosen (GitHub: harvesthq / chosen, License: MIT) is a
solid example of a beautifully presented and well-marketed jQuery
plugin. It hits everything on my checklist:

I think the only thing that's missing here is unit tests, unless they're
hidden somewhere in the source that I didn't expect.