This article feels like matching two brothers from the same mother. jQuery Mobile does not need too many announcements; it is probably the most commonly used HTML 5 frameworks and it is all thanks to his older brother jQuery. Kendo UI is in the same line of business. Just like jQuery Mobile Kendo UI requires a jQuery application framework (or AngularJS). The last statement is the main reason I’m calling them brothers from the same mother.
 
But there’s one large difference between them, jQuery Mobile is open source while Kendo UI is a commercial product. Don’t let this comment pull you to jQuery Mobile side just yet, open source doesn’t mean it is better. Same thing goes for the commercial nature of Kendo UI.
 
 

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Intro

 
 
This article is a part of a series where I am trying to explain differences between different HTML5 application frameworks. Original article is talking about a broad differences between 7 most popular HTML5 mobile frameworks. Follow a previous link if you want to find out more about them.
 

jQuery Mobile vs Kendo UI

 
 
I will try to make this article as objective as I can. Before we go any further, let me be more transparent with you. I have originally started to work with jQuery Mobile 2 years ago. During that time I have joined StackOverflow, and while helping other jQuery Mobile developers I’ve read something about Kendo UI. It intrigued me enough to spend few weeks playing with it. This article is the product of that time.
 

Match 1 – Marketing and platform support

 
Kendo UI and jQuery Mobile are a bit different in kind. jQuery Mobile is promoted as:
jQuery Mobile: Touch-Optimized Web Framework for Smartphones & Tablets. A unified, HTML5-based user interface system for all popular mobile device platforms, built on the rock-solid jQuery and jQuery UI foundation. Its lightweight code is built with progressive enhancement and has a flexible, easily themeable design, etc.
 
As you can see, jQuery Mobile developers are trying to promote them self as a new product in a line of other great products. Its mobile nature was described as early as the second sentence. This is important because you need to understand that Kendo UI is a similar yet different “beast”. Kendo UI provides much more than mobile use, compared to jQuery products, Kendo UI looks like a combination of jQuery UI with jQuery Mobile (with a dose of server side support). These are the words used at Kendo UI site:
 
Comprehensive HTML5/JavaScript framework for modern web and mobile app development. Telerik’s Kendo UI is everything professional developers need to build HTML5 sites and mobile apps. Today, a productivity of an average HTML/jQuery developer is hampered by assembling a Frankenstein framework of disparate JavaScript libraries and plug-ins. Kendo UI has it all: rich jQuery-based widgets, a simple and consistent programming interface, a rock-solid DataSource, validation, internationalization, an MVVM framework, themes, templates and the list goes on ……
 
jQuery Mobile
 
  • Supported by large number of mobile platforms and desktop browsers.
  • Unfortunately, that same support creates a lot of problems, but more about them later.
  • Not promoted as “One and the only” HTML5 framework you want and need.
 
Kendo UI
 
  • Similar case like jQuery Mobile. Kendo UI support every major HTML desktop browser plus every major mobile platform. Little bit less then jQuery Mobile but every major/important platform is supported.
  • Down to earth marketing.
 
Verdict: Tie
 
 

Match 2 – UI and visual impression

 
Look and feel, this topic is again going to be close. jQuery Mobile uses the same UI regardless the platform. This is excellent if you want to provide platform consistency. Unfortunately, UI looks too much like iOS; thankfully that was fixed with version 1.4. Very large set of widgets is provided, not to mention large 3rd party support (more about it here and here). Widgets are fully responsive and play well during the screen rotations.
 
From the “look” perspective, Kendo UI provides more than jQuery Mobile. Where jQuery Mobile provides one theme (several swatches), Kendo UI provides several themes. There’s a theme made to mimic every kind (and version) of a mobile device.
 
There’s also one unique flat theme made to look the same on all available platforms. Widget support is as large as is a case with jQuery Mobile, with few exceptions and differences (for example jQuery Mobile provides excellent table view, and Kendo UI provides out of box carousel).
 
Layout design looks freakishly similar. Differences can be spotted only on a closer look. This was the first thing that led me to Kendo UI. The transition from jQuery Mobile to Kendo UI and vice versa is fast. During that transition, it took me only a few hours to start creating complex UI designs.
 
jQuery Mobile
 
  • Same UI regardless the platform
  • Large out of the box and 3rd party widget support
  • UI looks to much like iOS, this will change with a version 1.4
  • Better page responsiveness then Kendo UI (I am talking about CSS responsiveness and different resolutions, not about performances)
  • Compared to Kendo UI jQuery Mobile UI performance suffers highly on mobile devices, up to the point where applications can sometimes become useless (this can be mitigated with enough experience but never fully)
  • UI can be easily modified, same thing goes for Kendo UI
 
 
Kendo UI
 
  • Large theme support, overall better usefulness if distinctive platform look and feel is needed
  • Large widget support, almost the same like jQuery Mobiles (there are few exceptions)
  • iOS look feels almost native like
  • Much better UI performance on mobile devices, transitions are native like. Unfortunately performances will fall with more complex layout, then agin it will fall much much slower then in case of jQuery Mobile
 
Screenshots
 
jQuery Mobile example
Kendo UI example
 
Examples
 
jQuery Mobile jsFiddle example: http://jsfiddle.net/Gajotres/VKZEP/
 
 
Kendo UI jsFiddle example: http://jsfiddle.net/Gajotres/EvMsr/
 
 
Verdict: Kendo UI wins (mobile performance is main reason for this victory)
 
 
Continue Reading

  • Great info and well thought through. I’m tempted to look into kendo mobile some more. particularly interested in better performance and better structure of code.

  • Hello there, You have done a fantastic job. I will certainly digg it and personally
    suggest to my friends. I am sure they will be benefited from this website.

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  • Ashwin

    Excellent article. Well written, concise and to the point. Helped me make a decision.

  • Alan Smith

    Thanks for an excellent article.
    It’s interesting that the page weight of your Kendo example is almost 50% (232KB) more than the JQuery version.
    kendo.all.min.js is 387KB on it’s own which seems excessive for a mobile app.

  • Very informative comparison between the two, thanks for taking the time to write this up!

  • Anthony

    Excellent write up. Thanks!

  • Tom

    Good but more like Kendo sponsored.

    I have 5 mobile hybrid financial applications (doing quite a big task) all developed with JQM. All apps are working just so perfect with no performance issue at all.
    Kendo ui paid support is good but not the plain vanilla one. There’s plenty of help, support and 3rd party bullet proof JQM plugins available which will make any mobile developers life easy.
    Regarding theme and other look and feel JQM version 1.3 has more than enough support which you can also carry to 1.4 latest version with one single change. Kendo has an edge over here as it supports more theme inbuilt but for mobile apps who needs so much of themes.

    Mobile apps should be light weight and mobile friendly as because the mobile memory is costly and limited and JQM perfectly fits the bill in these matters. My financial apps does a hell lot of things but still so slim on mobile. The same app when tried with Kendo became a fat buddy

    Backbone and Knockout supports enough MVC compared to Kendo’s inbuilt support which is heavy on small platforms.

    I would request the author to compare app to app rather than hitting the bush. I did it myself.

    Thanks

    • I have spent more then enough time working with jQuery Mobile, I am still working with it, helping people overcome huge amount of jQuery Mobile shortcomings.

      Currently jQuery Mobile can’t come close to Kendo UI. To be honest this article is bias towards jQuery Mobile, I didn’t want to trash it that hard.

      Let me also prove my dedication to jQuery Mobile, take a look here: http://stackoverflow.com/tags/jquery-mobile/topusers

      I am number one supporter/helper for jQuery Mobile related questions, and this gives me unique perspective over this topic.

  • John Smith

    Thanks, excellent article! Telerik did a great job with Kendo UI but their prices are quite tough, perpetual costs. This is something for real pros earning money with/for their pages.

  • Excellent article. Well written. Thanks