When I first started learning HTML I remember the delight I had after applying only a little markup and seeing the results after reloading. Even as new techniques were developed to manipulate the page, elements being created and then falling out of usage, and other ways of representing tags emerging, the platform’s ability to organize a large amount of content in a friendly way remains a key feature. With Web Components now, designers and developers are given a unified way to create and consume new HTML.
A unified way to share is presenting itself as well after industry favored ES6 modules over HTML imports (similar functionality is being rethought) and an NPM packaged frontend has shown itself more appealing. Polymer has moved in this direction also. Templates are now fairly ubiquitious and the main API’s used to build modern Web Components continue to ship to production, with Microsoft Edge being the last major browser in the evergreen Web that will complete the basic building blocks for the platform once development has finished.
So what is a modern Web Component?
They consist “of three main technologies, which can be used together to create versatile custom elements with encapsulated functionality that can be reused wherever you like without fear of code collisions.” – MDN web docs.
These three are listed as, Custom Elements, Shadow DOM, and HTML templates. When used by the consumer of the Web Component, the tag essentially has to be lowercase, contain a hyphen, can contain custom attributes, and cannot be self closing. For example:
<x-weather appid="NOT_A_REAL_API_KEY" host="api.openweathermap.org" location="San Fransisco, California" > <x-current scale="F"></x-current> <x-forecast days="2" scale="F"></x-forecast> </x-weather>
For my own experimentation I wanted a reproducible way to view on non-native browsers, so I put together a small project that can include the required polyfills and transpile back to ES5 for a starter site (or singular component). It isn’t intended for use in a production setting but I did end up building a small set of weather components with it. Other than that, I’ve been reading on best practices and learning more about Shadow DOM.
While I’m hopeful for better server side rendering support and will continue to watch how the future looks in regard to React, the thought of composing a site with a text editor, a few tags, and the
F5 key sounds a bit refreshing. 🙂