Over the past few years I’ve come to love the MooTools JavaScript framework.  It’s an excellent enhancement to JavaScript that helps insulate from browser inconsistencies and provides nice functionality that doesn’t exist natively in JavaScript.   But as I look around, I see that most of the world uses jQuery.  Out of curiosity and in an effort to educate myself, I finally started playing with jQuery this week.

JavaScript is JavaScript, right?  Well, not really when you’re dealing with libraries like these.  JavaScript is very extensible and these libraries extend the language with extra functionality.

So what’s the difference between jQuery and MooTools?  Why choose one over the other?  My own anecdotal studies have shown me that jQuery feels more like JavaScript, while MooTools provides more extended non-native functionality like an object-oriented paradigm.

There are many similarities, many places where their functionality overlaps.  I’ve always been tempted to think these libraries are interchangeable, but I’ve come to realize that’s not the case.  They have fundamentally different goals.

jQuery seems to be aimed more at making casual JavaScript development easier.  It abstracts common things that most web developers want like animations, selectors, and things like that.  MooTools on the other hand is aimed at more advanced developers.  It shines when doing more intense JavaScript development.

Which one is better?  I can’t really say.  They both have benefits.  I like MooTools’ dynamic element creation and manipulation better, but jQuery has a much larger and more active community.  jQuery is easier to learn and the documentation is much better, but MooTools provides an inheritance mechanism which is very nice if you’re used to OOP.