BBC Glow – a New JavaScript Library

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BBC GlowThe British Broadcasting Corporation has released Glow, a new open source JavaScript library. The library has been used extensively on the website since late 2007 and offers the usual features, such as:

  • Simplified DOM manipulation and event handling
  • Custom user interface widgets, such as sliders and overlay boxes
  • Animation and effects
  • Useful cross-browser JavaScript functions

The question is: why did they bother? The BBC was using jQuery and there are many other JavaScript frameworks which would have served the same purpose. The BBC reviewed several of the more popular libraries but found none that met all of their strict guidelines. Accessibility and browser support were the main issues — the BBC requires level 1 IE6 support and also tests their sites in IE5.5.

So how does Glow compare to others? Glow uses namespaced code similar to the Yahoo! User Interface Library. It is generally well thought out and logical, although it can lead to slightly verbose statements.

// fade out an element in 1 second
glow.anim.fadeOut("#myelement", 1);

One major positive point is the Glow documentation — it’s excellent and contains plenty of example code snippets and demonstrations.

But does Glow offer any compelling reasons to switch from your current library? It’s unlikely; not unless you’ve experienced significant problems or require the same level of browser support implemented by the BBC.

Overall, I like Glow. It’s well documented, has been extensively tested, and is possibly a little easier to understand than jQuery. That’s a good thing because, as a British resident, my TV licence fee has paid for Glow. I am therefore able to accept any donations you want to make toward further development of the library!

For more information, refer to the BBC Glow home page.

Have you tried Glow? What did you think? Do we really need another JavaScript library?

Craig BucklerCraig Buckler
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Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.

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