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Underscore.js: Our Second Open-Source Release

Oct 28th, 2009


Jeremy Ashkenas

We released the first open-source component of DocumentCloud a little over a month ago. Since then CloudCrowd has picked up a lot of steam, with hundreds of developers watching it on GitHub, and many patches and features being contributed by the community. Among other uses, it’s running gene sequence analysis on strains of influenza virus — something we certainly never expected to see. Since anything worth doing is worth doing twice, this morning I’m pleased to announce the release of the second open-source component of DocumentCloud: Underscore.js.

Underscore is a Javascript library that provides a lot of the functional programming support that users of Prototype.js or Ruby expect, but does so by introducing a single object, the underscore: “_”. It’s a partial adaptation of many of the utility methods from the Prototype.js project, in order to use them without touching the prototypes of any of the core Javascript objects. This is important because it means you can use Underscore right alongside jQuery without having to worry about conflicting variables, redundant functionality, or differences in expected coding style. For Javascript 1.6 compliant browsers, it delegates to the native implementations of the functional methods, so that you can enjoy them at full speed where available.

This release has a much smaller scope than the previous one, but we think that it’s a helpful bit of code for any team that takes Javascript seriously — especially in conjunction with jQuery. The production version of the library weighs in at only 4kb when gzipped, a relatively fat-free download that you can add to your page without worrying too much about load time. We’re using it to develop our “journalist workspace”, the area in which researchers can search and organize documents, and visualize the relationships between them. We hope you find it useful.

One Response to 'Underscore.js: Our Second Open-Source Release'

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  1. Looks neat! But who wears a tie with a tux?

    cody lindley

    28 Oct 09 at 11:20 am

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