• Published on Monday, 23 June 2014 03:57
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This feels like matching two brothers from the same mother. jQuery Mobile does not need too much announcements, it is probably the most commonly used HTML 5 framework 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 is made on a basis of jQuery application framework. This is the main reason why 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 make this switch 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.


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 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 theameable design …..

As you can see, jQuery Mobile developers are trying to promote them self as new product in a line of other great products. Its mobile nature was described as early as second sentence. This is important because you need to understand that Kendo UI is similar yet different “beast”. Kendo Ui provides much more then 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, 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, a 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 same UI regardless the platform. This is excellent if you want to provide platform consistency. Unfortunately UI looks to 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 then 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 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 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. Transition from jQuery Mobile to Kendo UI and vice versa is fast. During that transition, it took me only 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


jQuery Mobile example

Kendo UI example 


Verdict: Kendo UI wins (mobile performance is main reason for this victory)


Match 3 – Availability, ease of use

Like in our first match this is going to be a very close situation. Both jQuery Mobile and Kendo UI are markup driven and their dependency on jQuery makes them extremely easy to master and use. Unfortunately jQuery Mobile don’t offer MVC support, where Kendo UI has built in MVVM support. In case of jQuery Mobile it can be fixed with 3rd party framework like Backbone. While Kendo UI don’t really need Backbone it can still be used if you prefer its architecture. jQuery is application framework in both cases but Kendo UI uses more java script like syntax then jQuery Mobile.

jQuery Mobile

  • Extremely easy to use, javascript syntax identical to classic jquery
  • Unfortunately out of box MVC dont exist, it can be fixed with Backbone.js or Knockout.js
  • You don’t need IDE to develop jQuery Mobile application, same goes for Kendo UI
  • Excellent theme roller support

Kendo UI

  • Extremely easy to use, javascript syntax slightly different then jQuery Mobile
  • MVVM support included
  • Excellent theme support, made even better because you can also modify widgets look and feel
Verdict: Kendo UI wins (MVVM is enough to make this a win)


jQuery Mobile syntax:

Kendo UI syntax:


Match 4 – Documentation

This is match where jQuery Mobile beats Kendo UI. First let me tell you that jQuery Mobile and Kendo UI don’t have great documentation. It is often confusing, parts are missing or can be found in weird places, some topics require a lot of time to find out. But jQuery Mobile has something that Kendo UI lacks, at that is working examples made from their own code. I hate when I find an example and I need to test it myself to see how it looks and behaves, it is just unproductive.

jQuery Mobile

  • Average documentation, working examples is only thing that saves them from shitty status
  • A lot of important framework inns and outs are missing or not not described enough
  • Large community and github support

Kendo UI

  • Worse documentation then in jQuery Mobile case
  • I really don’t understand why framework was not used to show working examples
  • Average community support, at the same time direct developer support is great, specially if product is bought
Verdict: jQuery Mobile wins


Match 5 – Tools, Plugins, 3rd party support

This is going to be a short topic. jQuery Mobile is open framework and has a better 3rd party plugin support. Kendo UI developers are not that much fond of 3rd party plugin support, mostly because it can compromise their product which is understandable. Both frameworks don’t require IDE and development can be done in any editor.

jQuery Mobile

  • Developers are working directly with outside community, at lease 2 widgets are originally made by developers not working directly for jQuery Mobile team
  • jQuery and jQuery UI plugins can be easily used with jQuery Mobile with few small restrictions

Kendo UI

  • Much smaller 3rd party plugin support
  • Kendo UI developers are encouraging other developers / users to send them widget requests
Verdict: jQuery Mobile wins


Final thoughts

jQuery Mobile 

  • Easy to develop
  • Excellent 3rd party support, what through knowledge what through plugins
  • Easy to debug
  • Stackoverflow
  • Slightly better documentation and community
  • Much slower then Kendo UI, build to work all around
  • Dull look unless you are capable UI designer, basically all applications look the same
Should be used
  • For mobile sites
  • Light hybrid applications
Reading material

jQuery Mobile Web Development Essentials, Second Edition

Yet another book from the Packt Publishing, second installment of this series. Originally I have bought first installment of this book which was outdated so you should also be careful. This one is currently 2 months old (26.11.2013) so it should satisfy you in coming months. Second edition is excellent all around book, covering everything from API to working examples. It is also an excellent book if you want to learn everything that needs to be know about jQuery Mobile API (Chapter 10), something event official product web page is lacking.



Kendo UI

  • Faaaaast + better native feeling
  • MVC architecture
  • Easy to develop
  • Easy to debug
  • Bad documentation
  • Bad 3rd party support, basically what you have is what you got.
  • Commercial product (this should also be a good point because commercial background requires a product worth of its price)
Should be used
  • For mobile and classic web sites
  • Complex hybrid applications – basically anything that should look and feel like a native app

Reading material

Building Mobile Applications Using Kendo UI Mobile and ASP.NET Web API

Do not be discouraged by the title of this book, only one chapter (Chapter 3) is really dedicated to ASP.NET, rest of the book is dedicated to Kendo UI alone, making it also usable to JAVA and PHP developers. It is intended for beginners and expert developers alike. Book covers everything from API, widgets up to working example in form of Movie Ticket Application.

Instant Kendo UI Mobile

Unlike the previous one this book is dedicated only to Kendo UI Mobile library and its various components for building mobile applications effectively. It is rather short (compared to the previous one). Still it will cover everything you need to know about Kendo UI widgets and page building. One other thing, its price (6.29$) makes it also a bargain.



Final words

All in all both frameworks are mature products and can stand on their own. On the other had, even if tie is final result I would advise Kendo UI over jQuery Mobile. Mainly because it works much better and native like on mobile devices. jQuery Mobile is slowly catching up but it will take a lot of time to reach performance level of Kendo UI. In the end, choose Kendo UI if money is not a problem or you are creating a professional hybrid application. In any other case you should use jQuery Mobile. I understand my final thought don’t feel objective but that is the truth. If performance is only then matters then Kendo UI is better then jQuery Mobile.

Dragan Gaić

Dragan Gaić

I'm software architect and creative code developer. Blame it on my parents, my upbringing, or my obsession with the IT, but folks tell me I am really, really good at what I'm doing. When I'm not meddling with HTML5 and web development, I work as a senior Java developer in one of the biggest insurance companies in the world. Google+

Website: http://www.gajotres.net


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