Wow. This is the first time i went through all the entries in this thread. I find it all very interesting having spent the better part of the past year going from framework to framework, and working on my own in between. Ruby/Rails, CakePHP, prototype, dojo, ExtJS, etc, etc, etc... they all have their brilliance in their own right. I came really close to going with Ext but in the end, I just couldn't quite commit (sounds like my relationships). One day, I decided I would make JQuery the project of the day, and by the end of the session, although I was starting to "get it", a lot of the code I was looking at just looked a bit too cryptic. After a few more days I was hooked. The terse coding and DOM manipulation is exactly what I was after in my own framework. Access to pre-fab plug-in widgets that fit your needs without any or little modification is nice, but not a real convern or goal for me. I'm a widget kind of guy and don't mind recreating the wheel here and there. As somebody said in something I read recently, the DOM is already a framework, so a thin layer, like JQuery, that allows you to perform many functions in a short line of code is perfect for me. The jury is still out regarding JQuery U/I and the plug-ins. I'll know more as days and weeks unfold.
The only problem, so far, that I'm having with JQuery is their forum. I love codingforums.com. There are some pretty smart people out there and they're usually pretty responsive and forthcoming with info. So far the JQuery forum, which, if I'm not mistaken, uses google's forum deal, just ain't the same; at least not yet.