Web Components and why you should be using them

  • Web components are a set of technologies that allow the creation of customisable elements, encapsulated outside the application, which can be reused in any JavaScript library or framework that works with HTML.
  • The three most used technologies are Custom Elements; Shadow DOM; HTML Templates; ES Modules.
  • Some advantages of using Web Components: Reuse; Encapsulation; Productivity.

The market has shown a great imbalance between demand and supply of competencies in application development, resulting in increased project costs and often hindering companies from investing in the digital transition. With the growing need for a presence on digital channels and to provide a good user experience, front-end development has been one of the most in-demand skills in the technology market.

There are several solutions to this challenge, the most obvious being to train staff and increase supply. This is also the solution that requires the most time and will not always be the most immediate response to today’s challenge, but often something we choose to relegate to the future.

Another solution is low-code/no-code platforms, which enable the development of applications in a simpler way but are limited to the existing functionalities, making them rigid and restrictive where the use case is rather complex.

Lastly, we have the evolution of what is traditional bespoke development.

It was back in 1995 that HTML2 transformed the Web by allowing users to interact with websites. What happened next is well known, the explosion of the Internet and the transition from “digital newspaper” websites to complex applications capable of offering an excellent user experience and defining the companies’ position in the market.

New frameworks, new methods and new trends are constantly emerging to help ease and improve application development. One of these trends is the use of web components.

Web Components are a set of technologies that allow the creation of customisable elements, encapsulated outside the application, which can be reused in any JavaScript library or framework that works with HTML. These elements can be widgets, buttons or any kind of function and UI that makes sense to reuse.

Among the various technologies that define web components, we highlight the four most widely used, which can be developed individually or together:

Custom Elements:

A set of JavaScript APIs that allows the creation of new elements or tags for HTML pages, along with their respective functions, laying the foundation for the design and use of new DOM components.

Shadow DOM:

Technology/strategy used to isolate CSS and JavaScript in an element, rendered separately from the DOM of the main document, preventing its behaviour and style from conflicting with the main code.

HTML templates:

Templates are used to create dynamic components. They start off invisible, and are not processed when the page loads, but when they are instantiated by a JavaScript function.

ES Modules:

This system of modules allows the inclusion and re-use of JavaScript documentation in a standardised, modular, efficient manner.

What are the advantages of using web components?

? Reuse: By reusing the same component, not only within but also outside the project, you simplify the structure of the application and speed up its development.

? Encapsulation: The fact that the element is encapsulated makes it independent from the rest of the application code, thus avoiding possible conflicts. This way, the code becomes simpler, better organised and modular.

? Productivity: The result of the previous features is clearly an increase in productivity. In today’s competitive markets, reducing developer effort in both ongoing and future projects is essential.

Final Thoughts

If your organisation aims to have a strong digital presence with tailored solutions, the use of web components will be a key factor in the productivity of your projects and the consistency of the user experience you offer.

You can see this technology as the ability to create a library of components designed according to the identity and brand of every company.

As technology consultants and with application development being one of Xpand IT’s focus areas, we always aim to stay up to date with the best market practices, incorporating them into our projects. This is how we provide better value to our customers and partners, both now and in the future. If you are interested in this area, please contact us!

Miguel HenriquesWeb Components and why you should be using them


Custom Development

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