@lit-labs/ssr
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3.2.2 • Public • Published

@lit-labs/ssr

A package for server-side rendering Lit templates and components.

Status

@lit-labs/ssr is pre-release software, not quite ready for public consumption. As we develop it we are using it as a test bed to ensure that new versions of lit (lit-html and lit-element) are SSR-ready. We expect that the foundational SSR support in this package will support a wide variety of use cases, from full-blown app rendering frameworks built on top of web components, to framework-specific plugins for rendering custom elements in e.g. React or Angular, to pre-rendering plugins for static site generators like 11ty. Please stay tuned and file issues with use cases you'd like to see covered.

Server Usage

Rendering in the Node.js global scope

The easiest way to get started is to import your Lit template modules (and any LitElement definitions they may use) into the node global scope and render them to a stream (or string) using the render(value: unknown, renderInfo?: Partial<RenderInfo>): RenderResult function provided by @lit-labs/ssr. When running in Node, Lit automatically depends on Node-compatible implementations of a minimal set of DOM APIs provided by the @lit-labs/ssr-dom-shim package, including defining customElements on the global object.

Rendering to a stream

Web servers should prefer rendering to a stream, as they have a lower memory footprint and allow sending data in chunks as they are being processed. For this case use RenderResultReadable, which is a Node Readable stream implementation that provides values from RenderResult. This can be piped into a Writable stream, or passed to web server frameworks like Koa.

// Example: server.js:

import {render} from '@lit-labs/ssr';
import {RenderResultReadable} from '@lit-labs/ssr/lib/render-result-readable.js';
import {myTemplate} from './my-template.js';

//...

const ssrResult = render(myTemplate(data));
// Assume `context` is a Koa.Context.
context.body = new RenderResultReadable(ssrResult);

Rendering to a string

To render to a string, you can use the collectResult or collectResultSync helper functions.

import {render} from '@lit-labs/ssr';
import {
  collectResult,
  collectResultSync,
} from '@lit-labs/ssr/lib/render-result.js';
import {html} from 'lit';

const myServerTemplate = (name) => html`<p>Hello ${name}</p>`;
const ssrResult = render(myServerTemplate('SSR with Lit!'));

// Will throw if a Promise is encountered
console.log(collectResultSync(ssrResult));
// Awaits promises
console.log(await collectResult(ssrResult));

Rendering in a separate VM context

To avoid polluting the Node.js global object with the DOM shim and ensure each request receives a fresh global object, we also provide a way to load app code into, and render from, a separate VM context with its own global object. Note that using this feature requires Node 14+ and passing the --experimental-vm-modules flag to node on because of its use of experimental VM modules for creating a module-compatible VM context.

To render in a VM context, the renderModule function from the render-module.js module will import a given module into a server-side VM context shimmed with the minimal DOM shim required for Lit server rendering, execute a given function exported from that module, and return its value.

Within that module, you can call the render method from the render-lit-html.js module to render lit-html templates and return an iterable that incrementally emits the serialized strings of the given template.

// Example: render-template.js

import {render} from '@lit-labs/ssr';
import {RenderResultReadable} from '@lit-labs/ssr/lib/render-result-readable.js';
import {myTemplate} from './my-template.js';
export const renderTemplate = (someData) => {
  return render(myTemplate(someData));
};
// Example: server.js:

import {renderModule} from '@lit-labs/ssr/lib/render-module.js';

// Execute the above `renderTemplate` in a separate VM context with a minimal DOM shim
const ssrResult = await (renderModule(
  './render-template.js',  // Module to load in VM context
  import.meta.url,         // Referrer URL for module
  'renderTemplate',        // Function to call
  [{some: "data"}]         // Arguments to function
) as Promise<Iterable<unknown>>);

// ...

// Assume `context` is a Koa.Context, or other API that accepts a Readable.
context.body = new RenderResultReadable(ssrResult);

Client usage

Hydrating Lit templates

"Hydration" is the process of re-associating expressions in a template with the nodes they should update in the DOM. Hydration is performed by the hydrate() function from the @lit-labs/ssr-client module.

Prior to updating a server-rendered container using render(), you must first call hydrate() on that container using the same template and data that was used to render on the server:

import {myTemplate} from './my-template.js';
import {render} from 'lit';
import {hydrate} from '@lit-labs/ssr-client';
// Initial hydration required before render:
// (must be same data used to render on the server)
const initialData = getInitialAppData();
hydrate(myTemplate(initialData), document.body);

// After hydration, render will efficiently update the server-rendered DOM:
const update = (data) => render(myTemplate(data), document.body);

Hydrating LitElements

When LitElements are server rendered, their shadow root contents are emitted inside a <template shadowroot>, also known as a Declarative Shadow Root, a new browser feature that is shipping in most modern browsers. Declarative shadow roots automatically attach their contents to a shadow root on the template's parent element when parsed. For browsers that do not yet implement declarative shadow root, there is a template-shadowroot polyfill, described below.

hydrate() does not descend into shadow roots - it only works on one scope of the DOM at a time. To hydrate LitElement shadow roots, load the @lit-labs/ssr-client/lit-element-hydrate-support.js module, which installs support for LitElement to automatically hydrate itself when it detects it was server-rendered with declarative shadow DOM. This module must be loaded before the lit module is loaded, to ensure hydration support is properly installed.

Put together, an HTML page that was server rendered and containing LitElements in the main document might look like this:

import {html} from 'lit';
import {render} from '@lit-labs/ssr';
import './app-components.js';

const ssrResult = render(html`
  <html>
    <head> </head>
    <body>
      <app-shell>
        <app-page-one></app-page-one>
        <app-page-two></app-page-two>
      </app-shell>

      <script type="module">
        // Hydrate template-shadowroots eagerly after rendering (for browsers without
        // native declarative shadow roots)
        import {
          hasNativeDeclarativeShadowRoots,
          hydrateShadowRoots,
        } from './node_modules/@webcomponents/template-shadowroot/template-shadowroot.js';
        if (!hasNativeDeclarativeShadowRoots()) {
          hydrateShadowRoots(document.body);
        }
        // ...
        // Load and hydrate components lazily
        import('./app-components.js');
      </script>
    </body>
  </html>
`);

// ...

context.body = Readable.from(ssrResult);

Note that as a simple example, the code above assumes a static top-level template that does not need to be hydrated on the client, and that top-level components individually hydrate themselves using data supplied either by attributes or via a side-channel mechanism. This is in no way fundamental; the top-level template can be used to pass data to the top-level components, and that template can be loaded and hydrated on the client to apply the same data.

Server-only templates

@lit-labs/ssr also exports an html template function, similar to the normal Lit html function, only it's used for server-only templates. These templates can be used for rendering full documents, including the <!DOCTYPE html>, and rendering into elements that Lit normally cannot, like <title>, <textarea>, <template>, and safe <script> tags like <script type="text/json">. They are also slightly more efficient than normal Lit templates, because the generated HTML doesn't need to include markers for updating.

Server-only templates can be composed, and combined, and they support almost all features that normal Lit templates do, with the exception of features that don't have a pure HTML representation, like event handlers or property bindings.

Server-only templates can only be rendered on the server, they can't be rendered on the client. However if you render a normal Lit template inside a server-only template, then it can be hydrated and updated. Likewise, if you place a custom element inside a server-only template, it can be hydrated and update like normal.

Here's an example that shows how to use a server-only template to render a full document, and then lazily hydrate both a custom element and a template:

import {render, html} from '@lit-labs/ssr';
import {RenderResultReadable} from '@lit-labs/ssr/lib/render-result-readable.js';
import './app-shell.js';
import {getContent} from './content-template.js';

const pageInfo = {
  /* ... */
};

const ssrResult = render(html`
  <!DOCTYPE html>
  <html>
    <head><title>MyApp ${pageInfo.title}</head>
    <body>
      <app-shell>
        <!-- getContent is hydratable, as it returns a normal Lit template -->
        <div id="content">${getContent(pageInfo.description)}</div>
      </app-shell>

      <script type="module">
        // Hydrate template-shadowroots eagerly after rendering (for browsers without
        // native declarative shadow roots)
        import {
          hasNativeDeclarativeShadowRoots,
          hydrateShadowRoots,
        } from './node_modules/@webcomponents/template-shadowroot/template-shadowroot.js';
        import {hydrate} from '@lit-labs/ssr-client';
        import {getContent} from './content-template.js';
        if (!hasNativeDeclarativeShadowRoots()) {
          hydrateShadowRoots(document.body);
        }

        // Load and hydrate app-shell lazily
        import('./app-shell.js');

        // Hydrate content template. This <script type=module> will run after
        // the page has loaded, so we can count on page-id being present.
        const pageInfo = JSON.parse(document.getElementById('page-info').textContent);
        hydrate(getContent(pageInfo.description), document.querySelector('#content'));
        // #content element can now be efficiently updated
      </script>
      <!-- Pass data to client. -->
      <script type="text/json" id="page-info">
        ${JSON.stringify(pageInfo)}
      </script>
    </body>
  </html>
`);

// ...

context.body = new RenderResultReadable(ssrResult);

Notes and limitations

Please note the following current limitations with the SSR package:

  • Browser support: Support for hydrating elements on browsers that require the ShadyCSS polyfill (IE11) is not currently tested or supported.
  • DOM shim: The DOM shim used by default is very minimal; because the server-rendering code for Lit relies largely on its declarative nature and string-based templates, we are able to incrementally stream the contents of a template and its sub-elements while avoiding the cost of a full DOM shim by not actually using the DOM for rendering. As such, the DOM shim used provides only enough to load and register element definitions, namely things like a minimal HTMLElement base class and customElements registry.
  • DOM access: The above point means care should be taken to avoid interacting directly with the DOM in certain lifecycle callbacks. Concretely, you should generally only interact directly with the DOM (like accessing child/parent nodes, querying, imperatively adding event listeners, dispatching events, etc.) in the following lifecycle callbacks, which are not called on the server:
    • LitElement's update, updated, firstUpdated, or event handlers
    • Directive's update
  • Patterns for usage: As mentioned above under "Status", we intend to flesh out a number of common patterns for using this package, and provide appropriate APIs and documentation for these as the package reaches maturity. Concerns like server/client data management, incremental loading and hydration, etc. are currently beyond the scope of what this package offers, but we believe it should support building these patterns on top of it going forward. Please file issues for ideas, suggestions, and use cases you may encounter.

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  • graynorton
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