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inferno

An extremely fast, isomorphic JavaScript library for building modern user interfaces

 

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Inferno is an isomorphic library for building high-performance user interfaces, which is crucial when targeting mobile devices. Unlike typical virtual DOM libraries like React, Mithril, Virtual-dom, Snabbdom and Om, Inferno uses techniques to separate static and dynamic content. This allows Inferno to only "diff" renders that have dynamic values.

In addition to this, we've carefully optimized the code to ensure there is as little overhead as possible. We believe that Inferno is currently one of the fastest virtual DOM implementation out there - as shown by some of our benchmarks. Inferno is all about performance, whilst keeping a robust API that replicates the best features from libraries such as React.

In principle, Inferno is compatible with the standard React API, allowing painless transition from React to Inferno. Furthermore, Inferno has a Babel plugin allowing JSX syntax to transpile to optimised Inferno virtual DOM.

  • One of the fastest front-end frameworks for rendering UI in the DOM
  • Components have a similar API to React ES2015 components with inferno-component
  • Stateless components are fully supported and have more usability thanks to Inferno's hooks system
  • Isomorphic/universal for easy server-side rendering with inferno-server

Very much like React, Inferno requires the inferno and the inferno-dom packages for consumption in the browser's DOM. Inferno also has the inferno-server package for server-side rendering of virtual DOM to HTML strings (differing from React's route of using react-dom/server for server-side rendering). Furthermore, rather than include the ES2015 component with class syntax in core (like React), the component is in a separate package inferno-component to allow for better modularity.

NPM:

Core package:

npm install --save inferno

ES2015 stateful components (with lifecycle events) package:

npm install --save inferno-component 

Browser DOM rendering package:

npm install --save inferno-dom 

Helper for creating Inferno VNodes (similar to React.createElement):

npm install --save inferno-create-element 

Helper for creating Inferno Components via ES5 (similar to React.createClass):

npm install --save inferno-create-class

Server-side rendering package:

npm install --save inferno-server 

Basic routing functionality:

npm install --save inferno-router 

Pre-bundled files for browser consumption can be found on our cdnjs:

https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/inferno/0.7.24/inferno.min.js
https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/inferno/0.7.24/inferno-create-element.min.js
https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/inferno/0.7.24/inferno-create-class.min.js
https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/inferno/0.7.24/inferno-component.min.js
https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/inferno/0.7.24/inferno-dom.min.js
https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/inferno/0.7.24/inferno-server.min.js
https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/inferno/0.7.24/inferno-router.min.js

Let's start with some code. As you can see, Inferno intentionally keeps the same, good, design ideas as React regarding components: one-way data flow and separation of concerns. In these examples, JSX is used via the Inferno JSX Babel Plugin to provide a simple way to express Inferno virtual DOM.

import Inferno from 'inferno';
import InfernoDOM from 'inferno-dom';
 
const message = "Hello world";
 
InfernoDOM.render(
  <MyComponent message={ message } />,
  document.getElementById("app")
)

Furthermore, Inferno also uses ES6 components like React:

import Inferno from 'inferno';
import Component from 'inferno-component';
import InfernoDOM from 'inferno-dom';
 
class MyComponent extends Component {
  constructor(props) {
    super(props);
    this.state = {
      counter: 0
    }
  }
  render() {
    return (
      <div>
        <h1>Header!</h1>
        <span>Counter is at: { this.state.counter }</span>
      </div>
    )
  }
}
 
InfernoDOM.render(<MyComponent />, document.body);

The real difference between React and Inferno is the performance offered at run-time. Inferno can handle large, complex DOM models without breaking a sweat. This is essential for low-powered devices such as tablets and phones, where users are quickly demanding desktop-like performance on their slower hardware.

Creates an Inferno VNode object that has chainable setting methods.

import createVNode from 'inferno';
 
InfernoDOM.render(createVNode().setTag('div').setClassName('foo').setAttrs({ id: 'test' }).setChildren('Hello world!'), document.body);

Creates an Inferno VNode using a predefined blueprint. Using the reference to the blueprint, it allows for faster optimisations with little overhead.

import InfernoDOM from 'inferno-dom';
 
const myBlueprint = Inferno.createBlueprint({
    tag: 'div',
    attrs: {
        id: 'foo'
    },
    children: { arg: 0 }
});
 
InfernoDOM.render(myBlueprint('foo'), document.body);

For each property on the object passed as the argument to createBlueprint, anything that has been defined with { arg: X } is regarded as a dynamic value (matching the argument of calling this blueprint), otherwise the properties are regarded as static. For example: if my object is const blueprint = Inferno.createBlueprint({ tag: { arg: 0 } }), then you'd expect to call blueprint('div') with the argument 0 (first argument) being the tag for the VNode.

Creates an Inferno VNode using a similar API to that found with React's createElement

import InfernoDOM from 'inferno-dom';
import Component from 'inferno-component';
import createElement from 'inferno-create-element';
 
class BasicComponent extends Component {
    render() {
        return createElement('div', {
               className: 'basic'
           },
           createElement('span', {
               className: this.props.name
           }, 'The title is ', this.props.title)
       )
    }
}
 
InfernoDOM.render(createElement(BasicComponent, { title: 'abc' }), document.body);

Stateful component:

import Component from 'inferno-component';
 
class MyComponent extends Component {
  render() {
    ...
  }
}

This is the base class for Inferno Components when they're defined using ES6 classes.

Stateless component:

import Inferno from 'inferno';
 
const MyComponent = ({ name, age }) => (
  <span>My name is: { name } and my age is: {age}</span>  
);

Stateless components are first-class functions where their first argument is the props passed through from their parent.

import Inferno from 'inferno';
import InfernoDOM from 'inferno-dom';
 
InfernoDOM.render(<div />, document.body);

Render a virtual node into the DOM in the supplied container given the supplied virtual DOM. If the virtual node was previously rendered into the container, this will perform an update on it and only mutate the DOM as necessary, to reflect the latest Inferno virtual node.

Warning: If the container element is not empty before rendering, the content of the container will be overwriten on the initial render.

import Inferno from 'inferno';
import InfernoServer from 'inferno-server';
 
InfernoServer.renderToString(<div />, document.body);

Render a virtual node into an HTML string, given the supplied virtual DOM.

Please note: hooks are provided by inferno-dom;

Inferno supports many of the basic events on DOM nodes, such as onClick, onMouseOver and onTouchStart. Furthermore, Inferno allows you to attach common hooks directly onto components and DOM nodes. Below is the table of all possible hooks available in inferno-dom.

Name Triggered when Arguments to callback
onCreated a DOM node has just been created domNode
onAttached a DOM node being attached to the document domNode
onWillDetach a DOM node is about to be removed from the document domNode
onWillUpdate a DOM node is about to perform any potential updates domNode
onDidUpdate a DOM node has performed any potential updates domNode
onComponentWillMount a stateless component is about to mount domNode, props
onComponentDidMount a stateless component has mounted successfully domNode, props
onComponentWillUnmount a stateless component is about to be unmounted domNode, props
onComponentShouldUpdate a stateless component has been triggered to updated domNode, lastProps, nextProps
onComponentWillUpdate a stateless component is about to perform an update domNode, lastProps, nextProps
onComponentDidUpdate a stateless component has performed an updated domNode, props

It's simple to implicitly assign hooks to both DOM nodes and stateless components. Please note: stateful components (ES2015 classes) from inferno-component do not support hooks.

function createdCallback(domNode, props) {
    // [domNode] will be available for DOM nodes and components (if the component has mounted to the DOM) 
    // [props] will only be passed for stateless components 
}
 
InfernoDOM.render(<div onCreated={ createdCallback } />, document.body);
 
function StatelessComponent({ props }) {
    return <div>Hello world</div>;
}
 
InfernoDOM.render(<StatelessComponent onComponentWillMount={ createdCallback } />, document.body);

Hooks provide powerful lifecycle events to stateless components, allowing you to build components without being forced to use ES2015 classes.

Inferno now has bindings available for some of the major state management libraries out there:

Inferno tries to address two problems with creating UI components:

  • Writing large applications in large teams is slow in terms of development and expensive in costs – it shouldn't be.
  • Writing complex applications generally results in poor performance on mobile/tablet/older machines – it shouldn't.
  • Writing intensive modern UIs that require many updates/animations falls apart and becomes overly complicated - it shouldn't be.

Writing code should be fun. Browsers are getting more advanced and the technologies being supported are growing by the week. It's about time a library offered more fun without compromising performance.

Inferno supports IE11+, Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Safari 8+. In order to support IE8+, Inferno requires polyfills for the following JavaScript features:

Potential solutions including using the es5-shim for ES5 features and es6-shim from ES2015 features.

Inferno has its own JSX Babel plugin.

Inferno strives to be compatible with much of React's basic API. However, in some places, alternative implementations have been used. Non-performant features have been removed or replaced where an alternative solution is easy to adopt without too many changes.

Inferno doesn't have react's synthetic events, which means DOM elements have their events triggered in the same manner as you'd expect from the browser you're running.

Inferno wants to always deliver great performance and in order to do so, it has to make intelligent assumptions about the state of the DOM and the elements available to mutate. Custom namespaces conflict with this idea and change the schema of how different elements and attributes might work; so Inferno makes no attempt to support namespaces. Instead, SVG namespaces are automatically applied to elements and attributes based on their tag name.

React's ES2015 component is referenced as React.Component. To reduce the bloat on the core of Inferno, we've extracted the ES2015 component into its own package, specifically inferno-component rather than Inferno.Component. Many users are opting to use stateless components with Inferno's hooks to give similar functionality as that provided by ES2015 components.

npm run test:browser // browser tests
npm run test:server // node tests
npm run test // browser and node tests
npm run browser // hot-loaded browser tests
npm run build
npm run lint:source // lint the source