Best Free jQuery Plugins of 2016

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Do we still need jQuery?

After nearly a decade of existence, jQuery is the most popular JavaScript library in use. Ten years ago, the browser ecosystem was populated with antagonist browsers built to minimize the complexity of manipulating the HTML DOM. Induced by cross-browser irregularities, jQuery saved a lot of developers from going haywire. The volunteers behind jQuery sought to consolidate what browsers could do and implement an agnostic interface that would work consistently across all of them. Basically, jQuery created new APIs for bad native APIs, implemented features not supported by native APIs and duplicated buggy native functionality with bug-free functionality. Other voices in the JavaScript community insist that jQuery’s merits in addressing cross-browser irregularities are greatly exaggerated and, in fact, jQuery gain its popularity thanks to “querySelectors” implementation. The truth is out there…

The current browser ecosystem is less complicated than it was 10 years ago. While some browsers still fail to implement some HTML5 APIs, this is less of a problem than it was in the past. If something works fine in Chrome, then it will probably work as well in Firefox or Edge. Core elements of JavaScript are extensively documented and supported by all major browser vendors. querySelectors are also natively supported in most browsers. It may seem that the biggest problems jQuery was trying to solve are no longer an issue. So why should we use jQuery? Bare bones JavaScript is always faster than calling a library to abstract the native call. Should we waste CPU cycles for something that may seem obsolete? CPU cycle is a commodity. Time is not. Will an economy of 30 kb be worth the hassle to write, test, and then test again for code that is already available? While we all like to pursue engineering perfection, it’s no shame to use code snippets in our apps. JQuery spawned thousands of nicely packed, well-documented plugins that enhance our productivity and effectiveness. Innovation is great, innovating boilerplate code is not. Should you continue to use jQuery? It’s all a matter of choice.

The Best jQuery Plugins

Bellow, you’ll find a list of free awesome jQuery plugins. And because our readers are what makes Designmodo great, we’ve carefully selected plugins that are actively maintained or, at least, have been updated in the past year. While I’ve used most of them in projects, there are some terra-incognita plugins that I am excited to test and implement. You’ll find some fancy galleries, awesome animations but also some functional components.

Finally, I hope that this list will prove to be useful, and I am looking forward to seeing how you’ll implement them. Let us know in the comment section or tag us on Twitter @Designmodo.

Freewall

best jQuery plugins

Freewall is a gorgeous cross-browser jQuery plugin for building grid layouts with nice CSS3 animation effects and call back events. Whether you are looking to create flexible layouts, images layouts, nested grid layouts or Pinterest-like layouts, Freewall is an all-in-one solution for creating dynamic grids for desktop and mobile. Freewall supports almost any browser in use today, including the ancient IE 8, making the plugin a truly universal tool.

multiscroll.js

multiscroll.js

multiScroll.js is an excellent plugin that will help you add a multi-directional scroll on your site. This plugin facilitates the creation of multi-scrolling websites with two vertical layouts or panels. It aims to catch visitor attention with an original page, without stealing from the actual UX. It’s fully functional on all modern browsers, and it even works fine on legacy browsers. Needless to say, the plugin is mobile friendly.

rowGrid.js

rowGrid.js

rowGrid.js is an extra-small plugin that places images or other items in straight rows. It’s great to display images in a non-intrusive manner, just like Google does in its image search. rowGrid justifies items in straight rows so that they fit nicely in the parent element. To do that, it adjusts the margin between items and scales down the items to fit them harmoniously in your canvas. However, you should use same height items, otherwise, the plugin won’t work as designed. Like any other modern plugin, it’s responsive and browser compliant.

Slidebars

Slidebars

Slidebars is a jQuery plugin that helps to add off-canvas elements such as push menus or sidebars to your website. Version 2 was completely rewritten with clean and discreet markup and features an unlimited number of off-canvas elements.

pagePiling.js

pagePiling.js

One of the best plugins you could choose for your project, especially if you are looking to create a one-page site is pagePillings.js. The interface acts like a pile of pages that move up on scroll creating an unforgettable and user experience. The navigation direction, scroll speed, and animations can be easily customized so you can see what you want. Speaking of customizations, the possibilities that this plugin hides under the hood are immense. The plugin is fully responsive so it will look marvelous on all screens. The plugin is rendered in most browsers, including IE8.

Animsition

Animsition

The primary goal of Animsition is to enhance transitions between pages to provide an enjoyable user experience. This light jQuery plugin allows creating smooth and beautiful CSS-powered animations that accompany page transitions. With more than 60 different effects including standard fade series, fade-up series, fade-down series, rotate series, flip x/y, zoom series, Animsition is a must have plugin.

ZooMove

ZooMove

I hate images that zoom on mouse over. I find them annoying. However, when I have to implement them, I use ZooMove. The polished jQuery plugin is smooth (the attached gif doesn’t do it justice) and easy to use.

Rippleria

Rippleria

Rippleria is a lightweight Material Design-inspired jQuery plugin. It offers a ripple effect on click/tap that enriches the visual experience for users. It can be applied to DOM elements like buttons, icons, DIVs or images. It’s easy to implement and customize.

Flickity

Flickity

I’ve never seen a jQuery with such a detailed documentation as Flickity. Precise, detailed and logically structured, the devs behind Flickity deserve a prize for the best documentation of the year. The product itself is eye candy. It’s one of the best carousel plugins out there. It’s touch friendly, responsive and flickable. Flickity also spots a full API which is pretty cool if you ask me. Flickity is free for personal use, however, you’ll need a paid license if you intend to use the project commercially.

Unslider

Unslider

Unslider is the quickest and easiest way set-up a slider on your website. Unslider is small, but it’s flexible. It allows designers the freedom to alter anything they want through options or settings, methods or callback events.

Lightcase.js

Lightcase.js

Lightcase is a great lightbox plugin. While the plugin doesn’t work yet with jQuery 3, the developer is planning a new release. Lightcase is a great tool to create a responsive, CSS3 animated lightbox. It uses CSS3 animations such as scrollTop, scrollRight, scrollLeft, scrollVertical, scrollHorizontal, scrollBottom, fade, fadeinline and elastic. It supports DIVs, images, text, flashes, iframes, videos, etc.

PhotoSwipe

PhotoSwipe

Photoswipe is my favorite JavaScript gallery. It supports touch gestures such as spread to zoom, pinch to close, vertical swipe to close, horizontal swipe to switch. Also, the single tap and double-tap gestures can be customized. Unlike many gallery plugins, Photoswipe is browser navigation-friendly. It also has support for keyboard control. The gorgeous HTML5 full-screen image viewing mode will stun users with an immersive experience.

The plugin won’t slow page loads as it can be configured to delay loading the gallery’s JavaScript until the page is loaded. You can set to load only on the plugin is invoked by the open gallery button. Photoswipe also excels at preserving detail in responsive images. Images are displayed at their highest size and can be zoomed in if the viewport is smaller than the image. All these functionality weights around 14 kb, making it mandatory for your dev toolkit.

Strip

Strip

Strip is a flexible solution to add an elegant lightbox to your website. It is smooth, sleek and smart. On large screens it only partially covers the page leaving UI elements, text or some other parts of the layout uncovered for better and less intrusive interaction. On small screens, it acts a classic lightbox. The plugin is easy to use and offers a lot of settings to tweak.

Turntable.js

Turntable.js

There are a lot of plugins who promise a great showcase for your product, some deliver, some are just snake oil. If you want to showcase your product in a dynamic and immersive experience, the Turntable.js is the plugin you need, especially if you are selling a physical product. When I initially tested the plugin, I couldn’t believe that you can get such a streamlined 360 view. In fact, Turntable is revolutionary compared to the suite of web sliders, jQuery sliders and image viewers we are accustomed to. One of the main selling points of the plugin is that you can get rid of naughty navigation icons, and you can rotate or flip images with your mouse or finger on a touch-enabled display. Installation is simple, and the code is clean.

Vide.js

Vide.js

The easiest way to add a video background for your site is Vide. Supported on all modern browsers, Vide will help you get stunning visuals for your project. It has the setting you would expect from a video plugin so you can get the exact look you need.

Trianglify

Trianglify

Don’t want a video playing in the background but you find the usual picture or color background boring then Trianglify is for you. It generates unique algorithmic triangle patterns. You can specify the variance, cell size, and color. If you are in a hurry, you can use the Triangle Generator. The pattern can be rendered as canvas, .svg and .png. You can even write your own rendering implementation.

LazeeMenu

LazeeMenu

If you prefer to keep your main menu simple, but you have a huge menu tree, then an additional sidebar menu should help you achieve a balance between usability and completeness. LazeeMenu turns nested unordered links into a multi-level navigation menu. With a little bit of tweaking, you can customize the plugin to suit your needs.

Web-ticker

Web-ticker

You just launched a new version of your app. Feeling proud and accomplished? Then you probably should share the news with the world. Webticker is a great jQuery plugin to help you accomplish that. The author of this plugin has an excellent step-by-step guide that should help you to get started. Webticker has a lot of settings under the hood so you can fine tune the exact look you want. There are case scenarios for this plugin: news, announcements, sales, etc. You can even place images in your ticker, however, I strongly recommend avoiding this feature unless you want to induce motion sickness in your users.

Inputmask

Inputmask

The say UX is in the details. Remember the times you had to recomplete a form just because you entered an invalid date format? I do! And I hate when it happens. That’s way, every time I implement a form, I use an input mask. It helps the user with the input by ensuring a predefined format. It is useful for dates, numerics, phone numbers and so on. jquery.inputmask is a lightweight jQuery plugin that does the trick. It’s easy to use, flexible and has a lot of options. It also supports dynamic-masks, regex-masks, alternator-mask, etc. Give it a try, you’ll love it.

jquery.email-autocomplete.js

jquery.email-autocomplete.js

If you need a simple plugin to autocomplete the domain part of an e-mail address, then jquery.email-autocomplete.js is the best choice. Based on a list of predefined e-mail domains, the plugin will suggest the corresponding domain. Your user will press either the tab key or the right arrow key, or click on the suggestion to automatically fill the rest of the domain. The plugin works for mobile users, too.

tinyDatePicker

tinyDatePicker

If you are looking for a tiny, fast, scalable, flexible and pluggable date/time plugin, take a look at tinyDatePicker. There is a lot of functionality embedded in 5kb. Calendars, agendas, booking systems are a few scenarios where this plugin could be quite handy. It’s as versatile as it gets. Did I mention that the plugin can easily be integrated with Bootstrap or any other framework you may wish?

ReadRemaining.js

ReadRemaining.js

Fugit irreparabile tempus. With 20 browser tabs opened, a dozen of notifications on your smartphone, and a constant flow of information, we have less and less time to read. ReadRemaining.js won’t magically stop time, but it will tell your readers how long they’ll need to read your article. The plugin is subtle, and it doesn’t interfere with the actual reading.

Tooltipster

Tooltipster

Tooltips are text labels that appear on user actions. As long as they are not abused, tooltips provide a nice way to enhance the UX on your app. Tooltipster is an extensible jQuery plugin that helps you achieve a rich functionality for your tooltips. Simple enough for everyone, powerful enough for everything.

TableExport.js

TableExport.js

This is an easy-to-implement jQuery plugin that will quickly and dynamically convert HTML tables to Excel spreadsheets, comma separated values, and plain text .txt with only one line of code. Yes, it’s that simple.

Addel

TableExport.js

Addel is a lightweight jQuery plugin for powering UIs that implement dynamic addition and deletion of HTML elements, conceived with form elements in mind. The plugin is intuitive and flexible and will spare your time when building dynamic forms.

Chart.js

Chart.js

Chart.js is the best plugin for displaying statistics. Display data with eight chart presets. The charts are responsive and scalable. It also implements transition animations when changing data. The rendering performance is excellent across all modern browsers. It’s an actively developed plugin with new features added regularly. No more boring charts.

jQuery Flip-Quote

jQuery Flip-Quote

This the best plugin to bring life to your texts. Literally. Flip-Quote creates a pull-quote from a text quote found in your document and flips to reveal the quote once it’s scrolled into view. It also highlights the quote origin in the document. No more boring quotes.

Sharetastic

Sharetastic

If you want to increase traffic to your site, app or product exposure, maintaining a social media presence is essential. Sharetastic is my plugin of choice when it comes to displaying social share buttons. It’s fully customizable, has three built-in themes and is very easy to use.

HideSeek

HideSeek

HideSeek is the search plugin you’ve always looked for. It’s interactive as a search module can be. It can highlight the searched term, navigate between results, ignore elements, ignore accented characters and it even supports lists with headings.

Timedropper

Timedropper

An eye-candy time dropper plugin. It’s quite customizable as it has four style options (primaryColor, textColor, background-color and borderColor) and six feature options (autoswitch, meridians, format, mousewheel, init_animation and setCurrentTime). There are other similar plugins, with more functionality, however Timedropper is sleek, intuitive, and gets the job done nicely. Also, take a look at datedropper, a similar plugin, created by the same developer. It has eight feature options and eight styles, so you can receive the exact look you need.

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