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n-ui Coverage Status

Server, build and client side bootstrapping for next's user-facing applications.

PLEASE DON'T USE THIS OUTSIDE OF USER-FACING FT.COM APPLICATIONS. If you need a good express server with handlebars, metrics etc available consider using n-internal-tool, n-express or copying what you need from n-ui


n-ui has three parts - a server, a client side 'app shell' (js, css & handlebars layout), and a build. Expect things to break if you don't use all 3.


n-ui is a wrapper around n-express which adds templating and asset loading features

npm install @financial-times/n-ui

const app = require('@financial-times/n-ui')(opts)

Where opts is an object supporting all n-express's options, but with many set to true by default (see /server/index.js for details). Additioanl options include

  • partialsDirectory String or array - path[s] to load partials from, this in addition to the standard views/partials that is set for every app
  • layoutsDir String - a path to load handlebars views from defults to node_modules/@financial-times/n-ui/layout
  • withJsonLd Boolean - output jsonLD schema information in the page head


n-ui comes bundled with its own build tool - basically webpack, haikro build and a little bit of other stuff. To use it, add the following to your Makefile:

    nui build
    nui build --production
    nui watch

To define entry points for your assets use a n-ui-build.config.js file in the root of your project, which can export any object compatible with n-webpack



This should live in a /client/n-ui-config.js file

module.exports = {
    preset: 'complete', // 'discrete' will turn off ads & various popups
    features: {
        lazyLoadImages: true // turns individual features on/off. Check `/browser/bootstrap/js/component-initializer.js` for an upto date feature list

App bootstrapping

n-ui takes care of loading polyfills etc, and your application code shoudl be wrapped in the bootstrap method


import { bootstrap } from 'n-ui';
bootstrap(({ flags , appInfo, allStylesLoaded }) => {
    if (flags.get('feature')) {
        .then(() => {


Nothing fancy going on here any more 😄. No mixins (though the n-ui-foundations module has a few you will want to use), no tricky critical path css stuff.

@import "n-ui/main"

This will, when using the n-ui build tool, split n-ui's styles into head-n-ui-core.css and n-ui-core.css files, and the server will inline/linnk to these appropriately.

Local development

Working in n-ui

You should be able to work in n-ui as if it's an app - make watch and make run should work and serve a demo app on

Testing in an app

In local n-ui:

  • make install
  • make build-css-loader
  • npm link
  • bower link

In the app (e.g. next-article):

  • export NEXT_APP_SHELL=local
  • bower link n-ui
  • npm link @financial-times/n-ui
  • make run

Releasing n-ui

When you release an n-ui tag 3 things happen

  • assets are built and deployed to s3, from where they are linked to/downloaded by apps
  • the npm package is published
  • during work hours (9am to 4pm), all user-facing apps are rebuilt to pick up the changes


Linked Resources (preload) res.linkResource(url, meta, options)

Adds link headers to optimise requests for assets, defaulting to preload behaviour

  • url - absolute or relative path to the resource
  • meta - object defining additional properties to add to the header
    • rel [default: 'preload'] - value of the rel property
    • as - value of the as property e.g. 'stylesheet'
  • options - additional options when creating the header
    • priority - a value of highest will add the link header before all previously added resources that do not specify this (shodul not normally used by apps - used internally to ensure n-ui's resources are always loaded as wuickly as possible)
    • hashed - if true the path to the asset will be resolved to the equivalent hashed aset path

Anything below here isn't necessarily 100% up to date - n-ui has changed a lot recently and updating the docs is ongoing

Dev workflow

Overview of how the n-ui js bundle is delivered

Standalone development

  • make build run will
    • start a server on localhost:5005 which serves a demo page of most of the core n-ui components. Note: Any changes to templates require restarting the server
    • build an n-ui bundle that will bootstrap the js and css for the page
  • make test-unit-dev will run unit tests in Chrome using karma. To add tests for a new subcomponents, or to only run tests for a single subcomponent, modify the componentsToTest list in karma.config.js. In CI these tests are run in more browsers using saucelabs

Bower linking

To work with n-ui when it's bower linked into an app you will need to export NEXT_APP_SHELL=local in your app and then proceed exactly as you would for any other component

A11y testing

We hope to be able to a11y test all components before they are used in an app and end up causing lots of applications to fail builds. For now we are testing components in CI using pa11y and this requires some additional set up when creating a new component. Any directory in the root is considered to be a component and will require this additional set up.

  • Inside a component directory there must be a pa11y-config.js that must return JSON
  • The must have an entry property and and may contain a data property if required
    • The entry value should point to the main template for the component without any file extension and relative to the component root.
    • The data can be used if you need to pass any fixture data to the component for testing.

Adding subcomponents

Don't - n-ui is no longer a place to dump all next components. If you need to create a new shared component create a new repo for it and use the n-ui-foundations component to access primitive styles as used in next.

JS usage

Opting out of using a component provided by n-ui

If, for example, you want to use a beta of an origami component in a single app, or use React instead of preact In your app’s webpack.config.js, you can pass an nUiExcludes array as an option to nWebpack e.g. nUiExcludes: [‘React’, ‘React-Dom’]


If you pass withNavigation:true in the init options, you will have navigation data available in res.locals.navigation. this data comes from polling the navigation API. This data is used to populate the various menus and navigation items on the apps. The following data is available

res.locals.navigation = {
	lists: {
		navbar_desktop: // data for the main nav in the header (only on large screens)
		navbar_mobile: //data for the white strip that appears on the homepage and fastFT pages only on small screens
		drawer: //data for the slide-out menu
		footer: // data for the footer

Navigation Hierarchy

If you also pass withNavigationHierarchy: true in the init options you get some additonal properties detailing the current page's position in the hierarchy. This is only currently useful on stream pages. The following properties are added:

res.locals.navigation.currentItem // the current item
res.locals.navigation.children //an array of the direct decendents of the current page
res.locals.navigation.ancestors // an array of the parent items of the current page (top level first)


The navigation model also controls the edition switching logic. The following properties are added

res.locals.editions.current // the currently selected edition
res.locals.editions.others //  and array of other possible editions

Other enhancements

  • Our Handlebars engine loads partials from bower_components and has a number of additional helpers. It also points to n-layout to provide a vanilla and 'wrapper' layout
  • Exposes everything in the app's ./public folder via ./{{name-of-app}} (only in non-production environments, please use next-assets or hashed-assets in production)