What You Need to Know about Custom Elements
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What You Need to Know about Custom Elements

By Mainak Biswas July 30, 2014 - 661 views

In the last few months, we have heard a lot about Web Components and how things are going to change because of that. Web Components consist of connected technologies that help you to reuse elements across the web. They come in the form of a suite that has often been purported to change the way we work on the web. In the same breath, we must also talk about Custom Elements, which is part of the Web Components suite.

In this article, we will try to briefly help you get an idea about custom elements so that you can learn more about it from web resources.

What are custom elements?

Custom Elements help you to define your own elements and assign properties and behavior. Most elements are named after the basic function they perform. For instance, video elements are those that are concerned with displaying video where as an img element helps you to display images. When someone creates an element, it is assumed that it performs the same role wherever it is used. Many of these elements have self-described roles, which make it easy for us to just go ahead and use them without much thought.

What purpose do they serve, when it comes to web development?

As HTML often feels burdened with the change of pace, Custom Elements are meant to help developers create elements depending on their requirements. Custom Elements also help developers to define their properties, without having to use elements in their original form. If the element that you create becomes established enough, it might even become part of the HTML specifications.

Is it possible to create custom elements using HTML?

It is possible to create custom elements using HTML but they lack a purpose. You can create whatever you want and name it the way you like but then it will not be of much use. Custom Elements (the technology), on the other hand, bring measurable benefits and are smart in nature. The Smashing Magazine has a very detailed and insightful post about how to create Custom Elements & what their role in web development is.

Registered and custom tags use the HTMLElement interface, whereas, custom elements are unregistered and unrecognized. They often use the HTMLUnknownElement interface and are more powerful in nature.

Why you need to consider custom elements when they are not widely adopted?

It is our belief that web developers need to spend time learning new concepts and theories even when they are not in use. Right now, custom elements are not really entirely adopted and there is no place to really use them. For instance, only Opera and Chrome have added support to 2 of the 4 Web Components standards. Custom Elements might be included in the near future and there are several developers who have already begun to form their expertise in using them.

It might take some time before the major browsers begin to support custom elements. When that happens, you need to be ready with your knowledge and expertise. There might come a day when custom elements will be used extensively, in place of existing tools; and when that happens, it will not be easy for any of us to overlook its importance.

Smashing Magazine writes that one could use Polymer, an open community where one can try and use future technologies before they are even usable today. On Polymer, you can learn more about Web Components and Custom Elements. Polymer, according to Peter Gasston, is also a development library where you can access information that you need. If you would like to learn more about Custom Elements, you need to probably be heading over to Polymer, as that is the only place that seems to have any information about it at all. Meanwhile, both Rob Dodson and Smashing Magazine have ample information to begin with.

Do not shy away from technologies that seem new and difficult to understand. Though the waters might be untested, it will come to your use in the future if you are adventurous and hungry enough for new knowledge. Clients always respect those who know more than what is really necessary to get their job done; and that includes custom elements, when it comes to web development.

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