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Web Components are a set of features that provide a standard component model for the web allowing for encapsulation and interoperability of individual HTML elements. Web Components are popular approach to build microfrontends.
Primary technologies used to create Web Components include:
- Custom Elements
- APIs to define new HTML elements
- Shadow DOM
- encapsulated DOM and styling, with composition
- HTML Templates
There are two parts to Custom Elements: autonomous custom elements and customized built-in elements. Autonomous custom elements are HTML elements that are entirely separated from native HTML elements; they are essentially built from the bottom up using the Custom Elements API. Customized built-in elements are elements that are built upon native HTML elements to reuse their functionality.
The Shadow DOM is a functionality that allows the web browser to render DOM elements without putting them into the main document DOM tree. This creates a barrier between what the developer and the browser can reach; the developer cannot access the Shadow DOM in the same way they would with nested elements, while the browser can render and modify that code the same way it would with nested elements. The impact of CSS scoped within the Shadow DOM of a particular element is that HTML elements can be encapsulated without the risk of CSS styles leaking and affecting elements that they were not supposed to affect. Although these elements are encapsulated with regard to HTML and CSS, they can still fire events that can be picked up by other elements in the document.
The scoped subtree in an element is called a shadow tree. The element the shadow tree is attached to is called a shadow host.
A HTML template is a way to insert chunks of HTML that are cloned from the template at will. The syntax of HTML templates looks like this:
<html> <template> <h1><slot name="title"></slot></h1> <p><slot name="description"></slot></p> </template> </html>
Scripts will not run, and resources that are inside a template will not be fetched until the template is instantiated.
Web Components are supported by current versions of all major browsers.
There are many libraries that are built on Web Components with the aim of increasing the level of abstraction when creating custom elements. Some of these libraries are X-Tag, Slim.js, Polymer, Bosonic, Riot.js, Salesforce Lightning Web Components, DataFormsJS and Telepathy
From the above list, Bosonic, Polymer, Telepathy and DataFormsJS, all provide ready-made components that are free to use. These components can be used interchangeably as they are all built on open web technologies. While Bosonic, Polymer & DataFormsJS have far more pre-built components.[clarification needed] Telepathy is "closest to the metal" in that its sole focus is on helping the developer to build easily maintained webcomponents rapidly.
There are numerous community efforts for the Web Components ecosystem. WebComponents.org provides an interface to search for any existing Web Components, Custom Elements Everywhere validates whether popular front-end frameworks are compatible and ready to use Web Components standard, with a set of pending bugs and available workarounds. Moreover, Vaadin Tutorials has a dedicated section that shows how those workarounds are used efficiently with example demo apps and similarly related topics.
In 2011, Web Components were introduced for the first time by Alex Russell at Fronteers Conference.
In 2018, Angular 6 introduced Angular Elements that lets you package your Angular components as custom web elements, which are part of the web components set of web platform APIs.
In 2018, LitElement was developed by the Google Chrome team as part of larger Polymer project. LitElement was designed to be a lightweight and easy-to-use framework for creating web components.
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- Open Web Components
- What are Web Components?