Nonviolent Pigeon Manifestation


    0.19.11 • Public • Published

    Web component server-side rendering and testing

    Build Status

    This repo contains all you need to server-side render your web components and run their tests in a node environment.

    • Uses undom for a minimal DOM API in Node.
    • Great for rendering out static sites from components.
    • Run your tests in Jest!
    • Statically generate JS files to HTML files.


    npm install @skatejs/ssr


    This example is using vanilla custom elements and shadow DOM in order to show that it can work with any web component library.

    On the server (example.js):

    const render = require('@skatejs/ssr');
    class Hello extends HTMLElement {
      connectedCallback() {
        const shadowRoot = this.attachShadow({ mode: 'open' });
        shadowRoot.innerHTML =
          '<span>Hello, <x-yell><slot></slot></x-yell>!</span>';
    class Yell extends HTMLElement {
      connectedCallback() {
        Promise.resolve().then(() => {
          const shadowRoot = this.attachShadow({ mode: 'open' });
          shadowRoot.innerHTML = '<strong><slot></slot></strong>';
    customElements.define('x-hello', Hello);
    customElements.define('x-yell', Yell);
    const hello = new Hello();
    hello.textContent = 'World';

    And then just node your server code:

    $ node example.js
    <script>function __ssr(){var a=document.currentScript.previousElementSibling,b=a.firstElementChild;a.removeChild(b);for(var c=a.attachShadow({mode:"open"});b.hasChildNodes();)c.appendChild(b.firstChild);}</script><x-hello><shadow-root><span>Hello, <x-yell><shadow-root><strong><slot></slot></strong></shadow-root><slot></slot></x-yell><script>__ssr()</script>!</span></shadow-root>World</x-hello><script>__ssr()</script>

    On the client, just inline your server-rendered string:

    <script>function __ssr(){var a=document.currentScript.previousElementSibling,b=a.firstElementChild;a.removeChild(b);for(var c=a.attachShadow({mode:"open"});b.hasChildNodes();)c.appendChild(b.firstChild);}</script><x-hello><shadow-root><span>Hello, <x-yell><shadow-root><strong><slot></slot></strong></shadow-root><slot></slot></x-yell><script>__ssr()</script>!</span></shadow-root>World</x-hello><script>__ssr()</script>

    See it in action!


    The only function this library exposes is render(). The first argument is the DOM tree you want to render. It can be a document node or any HTML node. The second argument are the options to customise rendering. These options are:

    • debug - Whether or not to pretty print the HTML result. Defaults to false.
    • rehydrate - Whether or not to add the inline rehydration scripts. Defaults to true.
    • resolver - The function to call that will resolve the promise. Defaults to setTimeout.

    Running in Node

    If you want to run your code in Node, just require the registered environment before doing anything DOMish.

    // index.js
    // DOM stuff...

    Running in Jest

    If you want to run your tests in Jest, all you have to do is configure Jest to use the environment we've provided for it.

    // package.json
      "jest": {
        "testEnvironment": "@skatejs/ssr/jest"

    Static-site generation

    This package ships with a command that you can use to statically generate a site from JS files.

    • It uses babel-register to parse your JS files.
    • Each JS file must have a default export that is a custom element.
    ssr --out public --src path/to/site/**/*.js

    Options are:

    • --babel - Path to custom babel config. Uses require() to load relative to process.cwd(). Defaults to .babelrc / package.json field.
    • --debug - Whether or not to pretty print the HTML result. Defaults to false.
    • --out - The directory to place the statically rendered files.
    • --props - A JSON object of custom props to assign to the custom elements before they're rendered.
    • --rehydrate - Whether or not to add rehydration scripts. Defaults to true.
    • --src - A glob for the source files to statically render to --out.
    • --suffix - The suffix to put on the output files. Defaults to html;

    Watching files and generating them in dev mode

    You can use something like nodemon to watch for updates and then regenerate your site:

    nodemon --exec "ssr --out public --src path/to/site/**/*.js" --watch path/to/site

    Running with other Node / DOM implementations

    There's other implementations out there such as Domino and JSDOM. They don't yet have support for custom elements or shadow DOM, but if they did, then you would use this library in the same way, just without requiring @skatejs/ssr/register. With some implementations that don't yet support web components, requiring @skatejs/ssr/register may work, but your mileage may vary. Currently only Undom is officially supported.

    The future

    The definition of success for this library is if it can be made mostly redundant. Things like a DOM implementation in Node (JSDOM / UnDOM, etc) are still necessary. The static-site generation will probably still be a thing. However, we hope that the serialisation and rehydration of Shadow DOM can be spec'd - in some way - and a standardised API for doing so makes it's way to the platform.

    Serialisation may still be done in a Node DOM implementation, but it'd be great to see it standardised beacuse it is tightly coupled to the rehydration step on the client. This also helps to ensure that if an imperative distrubution API ever makes its way into the spec, that both serialisation and rehydration may be accounted for.


    There's some notes and limitations that you should be aware of.

    Scoped styles

    Scoped styles are emulated by scoping class names only. This means you are limited to using only class names within your shadow root <style /> tags:

      .some-class {}

    It will make that class name unique and scope it to the shadow roots that use it.

    Support for both :host and :slotted still need to be implemented.

    Style tags are also deduped. This means that if you use a <style /> element that has the same content in several places, it will only be added to the head once. If you enable rehydration, it will pull from that script tag directly when attaching a shadow root.

    DOM API limitations

    You're limited to the subset of DOM methods available through Undom, plus what we add on top of it (which is quite a bit at the moment). Undom works well with Preact and SkateJS due to their mininmal overhead and limited native DOM interface usage.

    There's currently some work happening to get custom element and shadow DOM support in JSDOM. Once that lands, we'll have broader API support and we can start thikning about focusing this API on just serialisation and rehydration.


    • Performance benchmarks focus on comparing a baseline to different methods of rehydration. Thanks to @robdodson for sharing some code that helped me flesh these out. Spin up a static server and load them up for more details.
    • Inline <script> tags use relative DOM accessors like document.currentScript, previousElementSibling and firstElementChild. Any HTML post-processing could affect the mileage of it, so beware.
    • Inline <script> method is currently the fastest overall method of rehydration. This has been discussed elsewhere but the difference between methods seemed more pronounced, possibly because things were deduped in a single <template> which isn't really possible because most components will be rendered in a different state. Also, cralers don't read content in <template> elements, so we need to store it in non-inert blocks.
    • Using a custom <shadow-root> element seems acceptable for performance, however there's some problems with delivering it:
      • Do we ship an ES5 or ES6 component? ES5 requires transpilation and shims. ES6 excludes older browsers.
      • We could make the consumer ship the element themselves and provide helpers they call out to, but that's more friction.
      • This is probably a better method once we can assume custom elements / ES2015 support in all targeted browsers.
    • Shadow root content, prior to being hydrated, is not inert so that it can be found by querySelector and crawlers. Putting it inside of a <template> tag means that it's not participating in the document and the aforementioned wouldn't work, thus negating the benefits of SSR altogether.
    • Using invalid HTML, such as putting a <div /> in a <p /> tag could result in broken rehydration because the browser may try and "fix" the incorrect line, thus making things out of sync with what the rehydration script expects.


    npm i @skatejs/ssr

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