Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral

Some might assume that an Internet loaded with free code would breed indolence. Yet it seems developers are willing to contribute their help to projects more than ever before. JavaScript libraries are a microcosm of the larger open source community – specifically jQuery with its ever-growing popularity and easy learning curve.

One such area of broadened potential would be jQuery-based calendars for websites. Although date & calendar interfaces have sparse usage, they come in handy for very specific circumstances. And when building a site that requires this type of interface you’ll be happy to know there are dozens of open source plugins available.

I’ve catalogued the 30 best free jQuery plugins that offer datetime functionality. Some are more developed than others and each plugin has its own set of benefits. The best part about using open source code is that it’s easy to customize for your own purpose. So peruse through this collection and take a look at any plugins which pique your curiosity.

For more jQuery plugins – check out our post on free gallery sliders.

Anything related to date/time for the web is usually built on a backend language. From Ruby to Python or PHP there are plenty of choices. But some modern websites tend to behave like web applications: snappy, responsive, and quick to react. jQuery has the capability of tying into a backend language through AJAX, but it’s not always the best solution.

Calendar plugins are often completely useless because they’re not interactive or just feel too clunky. It’s a good idea to map out your concept for how the final layout should behave. Bloat is another issue which can be difficult to avoid. Just be sure to use minified versions of all plugins and resource files to reduce the length of HTTP requests.

Date pickers tend to be smaller and more compact in relation to full calendar interfaces. The biggest problem with date pickers is the interface itself. Many will focus on a simpler UI with dropdown menus or input fields. Others will incorporate a more traditional calendar-style picker with an interface that’s much too small.

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral

The design network Dribbble has lots of datepicker interfaces you could check out. Granted these are just design mockups but the best ones should capture your attention immediately. It should become natural to feel how an interface ought to behave just through the design.

User interface design and user experience design tend to go hand-in-hand. If a plugin can’t balance these ideas properly it will often lead to frustration for both the developer and the user.

It should be noted there is rarely an empirical list of rules that everyone agrees would denote great plugin design. I have my own opinions about best practices for jQuery plugins based on my own experiences. No single plugin should be considered ideal since each project is subjective and requires its own solution.

With that said, here are a few things to look out for when selecting a plugin for your project:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

If you’re someone who likes to get under the hood and customize from scratch then you may prefer to start with a tutorial. jQuery plugins are easy to customize once you learn the code structure. But there’s nothing like the feeling of starting and completing a brand new plugin.

Each of these tutorials place a focus on building a calendar or datepicker interfaces through jQuery. If you have the patience and time then it may be worth building something from scratch. Not every tutorial goes in-depth about the plugin side of coding, which may require a bit more research. But once you understand the core concepts everything else should fall right into place.

Unfortunately there aren’t many tutorials related to datepickers and calendars because they’re much less common than slideshows or dropdown menus. But this collection should be perfect to satiate the appetite of anyone thirsting for greater knowledge.

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Perhaps the most popular Calendar library is jQuery UI. It can be expanded, customized, and restyled using a little jQuery and CSS. Valeriu Timbuc wrote this tutorial expounding on how to build a dynamic calendar interface. It covers the general setup of jQuery along with the custom CSS3 properties used to design and restyle everything.

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

The Codrops blog is perhaps one of my absolute favorites in the realm of web development. Their tutorials are concise, well-designed, and work exactly as featured.

Mary Lou is the author and developer for this jQuery plugin tutorial named Calendario. It’s a fully-responsive flexible plugin for creating a calendar interface with any style you please. The tutorial is super easy to follow and the plugin code is 100% free to download. Anyone who’s primarily interested in frontend development with jQuery should really go through this tutorial.

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

As I mentioned before, most web calendars are built using some type of backend language. Although jQuery can be great for dynamic features, it can be dramatically improved with some backend programming.

This tutorial written by Josh Lockhart does everything right. You’ll be introduced to the jQuery AJAX API for connecting into a PHP backend. It also covers the initiation of a MySQL database used to store the datetime information. I’ll admit this is definitely a tutorial for more advanced developers – but if you’re curious to learn about PHP this may be perfect introductory material.

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

The default jQuery UI theme is rather straightforward and rarely match existing websites. In this tutorial you’ll learn how to customize the UI Calendar/Datepicker theme from scratch. It does not specifically rely on ThemeRoller, instead opting towards a more customized approach. Although the final demo is a little bare, it grants you much more control to restyle the interface in any direction you please.

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Adding the jQuery UI library to your static HTML page is a breeze. However getting it to run in WordPress is a whole separate topic – not to mention the code required for appending a specific widget into a page is often quite tedious.

But thanks to this Datepicker tutorial you should have no problem incorporating the jQuery UI component into any WordPress theme. It goes into great detail about the proper way to include the jQuery UI file through WordPress’ wp_enqueue_script function. Any WP developers out there who need to incorporate a frontend datepicker will take away reliable information from this post.

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Few developers are willing to push new standards because browser technology is often lacking in support. But HTML5 has been growing rapidly and seen a tremendous increase in general browser acceptance.

This tutorial written by TJ VanToll explains how to build an HTML5 type=”date” input field using jQuery as a fallback. It offers the best of both worlds incorporating a newer HTML5 input with a more trustworthy jQuery UI alternative. Each step is easy to follow and there are plenty of live demos throughout the article.

Best Free Calendar & Datepicker jQuery Plugins-ThemesReviewCentral
Why it’s brilliant:

Tuts+ does a lot of multi-post tutorials which are broken up into series. This series is one such example written by Tom McFarlin who outlines the process of adding a datepicker into the WordPress post editor. All of the code is phenomenal and it’s very easy to understand. Although not everyone likes to use WordPress, it is a popular CMS for both personal and professional web projects.

As the years pass I’m constantly bumping into new libraries and plugins for enhanced web development. When a talented developer needs some functionality that can’t be found elsewhere, they’ll often build it themselves. Many plugins have been created through this origin story and have since been released into the public.

I certainly hope these calendar and datepicker plugins will offer some value to web designers and developers. The beauty of jQuery is that it’s cross-platform and supported in almost every browser with JavaScript. You have your pick of the litter when it comes to plugins and there’s bound to be even more released over the next few years. If you have questions or suggestions for other related plugins let us know your thoughts in the post comments below.

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