Large companies such as IBM and Google often allow their developers to work on open-source projects, to derive the benefit of influencing the projects.
Also part of the project is jQuery UI (User Interface), a library of components built on jQuery. jQuery UI is composed of a lot of the fun elements associated with Web 2.0, such as drag-and-drop features and widgets.
Those are components that companies want on their web pages but would normally have to pay to develop. But jQuery is open source, so it's free to use. As a result, companies are hiring people to work in part on jQuery and jQuery UI, since "we are now solving real problems for them," Resig said.
Only one person works full time on jQuery UI, and about 20 to 25 volunteers work on the whole jQuery project. The project is funded mostly by donations, which has been occasionally used to invest in code development. A top-notch German developer was hired to do specific work on jQuery UI, and the project paid him with a laptop, Resig said.
jQuery's popularity has surged since the project started around January 2006: Google and Amazon.com are now using it for their web pages, Resig said. While it's difficult to gauge, Resig estimates about 200,000 people are using jQuery code.
"We're at the mercy of browser bugs," Resig said.
So Resig is establishing a programme where users can test jQuery UI components on a special web page and report back detailed problems. In the long run, users will get more stable components and developers benefit from broader testing.
"We need user feedback," Resig said. "It has been hard for us to quantify when things go wrong."