GitHub has long been a proponent of Web Components. We’re using Web Components in a big way at GitHub. We have over a dozen open-source Web Components and with dozens more that are closed source. Here's how we use them.
GitHub has long been a proponent of Web Components. Here's how we use them.
At GitHub, we pride ourselves on delivering a first-class developer experience. A considerable part of our work is on our front end, which we strive to keep as lightweight, fast, and accessible as possible. For a product as large as GitHub, this can be quite the task. Like many front-end codebases, we leverage components, independent, isolated, and reusable pieces of code that allow application teams to deliver high fidelity UI quickly and efficiently while still keeping to our high standards of quality.
We’re using Web Components in a big way at GitHub. We have over a dozen open-source Web Components and with dozens more that are closed source.
When GitHub launched over a decade ago, we had a modest front-end codebase that mostly used jQuery. Ten years and nearly 85,000 lines of code later, we had a large front-end codebase that was starting to show growing pains. We ultimately transitioned away from jQuery (for reasons which we detailed in a blog post at the time) and started using new technologies which could better solve our problems.
Our first two custom elements shipped in 2014: elative-time and local-time, which show times and dates in friendly formats, and include-fragment, which allows us to lazy load HTML fragments. Slowly we realized just how powerful these elements could be and began replacing design patterns within the codebase wholesale, such as replacing our “facebox” modal dialog pattern with details-dialog. Our components now range from very generic, multi-purpose behaviors like remote-input to specific single-purpose components such as the markdown-toolbar element and its siblings.
For the power Web Components affords, there are still pain points and pitfalls. With such a large codebase owned by hundreds of engineers across dozens of teams, we need to provide as much support and tooling as possible, encoding best practices without manual code review becoming a bottleneck.
Kristján Oddsson detailed at the Web Components SF meetup how GitHub uses Web Components and the patterns GitHub identified to foster readable, performant, and accessible front end components.
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