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Exploring the Potential of Polymer.js as a Game-Changer in Web Application Development/



Michael is a software engineer and startup growth expert with 10+ years of software engineering and machine learning experience.

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Exploring the Potential of Polymer.js as a Game-Changer in Web Application Development
Exploring the Potential of Polymer.js as a Game-Changer in Web Application Development

The article delves into the stability and maturity of Polymer.js as a potential foundation for building large-scale web applications. The analysis includes an overview of the technology, and the post concludes with the results and insights drawn from the test drive.

Polymer.js: Exploring the Concept and Benefits of Custom HTML Elements

Before diving into our Polymer.js tutorial, let’s first define what Polymer.js is all about. Unlike what it claims to be, Polymer.js is essentially a framework for creating custom HTML elements that can be used to build complex, scalable, and maintainable web applications. It allows developers to craft their own elements and reuse them declaratively without having to understand their inner workings.

According to Polymer’s philosophy, web development should be based on extending the existing element paradigm to build more powerful web components instead of relying on custom JavaScript libraries. This approach leverages the browser’s “native” technologies, making it simpler and more efficient.

In this post, we’ll explore the concept and benefits of creating custom HTML elements using Polymer.js. We’ll also examine how this approach differs from other web development frameworks and provide insights into the practical applications of Polymer.js.

The Reality of Polymer.js for Web Development: Benefits and Limitations

The Reality of Polymer.js for Web Development Benefits and Limitations

Although Polymer.js has a unique philosophy for web development, its approach may be ahead of its time. The framework relies on cutting-edge technologies that are not yet standard in today’s browsers, such as shadow dom, template elements, custom elements, HTML imports, and mutation observers. As a result, developers must use polyfills, downloadable JavaScript code that provides features that are not yet built into browsers, to fill the gap.

However, the reliance on polyfills raises concerns about the framework’s practicality. Polymer.js may seem more like a study in how element-centric applications may be built in the future rather than a viable option for creating complex and robust applications at present. Despite this limitation, Polymer.js offers benefits for developers who want to leverage the browser’s native technologies to create scalable and maintainable web applications.

In this post, we’ll examine the benefits and limitations of Polymer.js for web development. We’ll also discuss the practical applications of the framework and provide insights into the future of web development with Polymer.js. While finding a Polymer tutorial outside of Google’s documentation may be challenging, this post aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the framework’s capabilities and limitations.

Polymer.js Architecture: Understanding the Four Layers

To fully comprehend Polymer.js, it’s crucial to understand its four architectural layers: Native, Foundation, Core, and Elements.

The Native layer includes features that are already available natively in all major browsers. The Foundation layer, on the other hand, provides polyfills that replicate the necessary browser features not yet natively supported in the browsers. However, the Foundation layer is intended to gradually disappear over time as these capabilities become available natively in the browser.

The Core layer is the infrastructure required for Polymer elements to take advantage of the capabilities provided by the Native and Foundation layers. Finally, the Elements layer provides a basic set of elements to help developers create their applications, including elements for basic functionality like ajax, animation, flex layout, and gestures. Additionally, the Elements layer offers encapsulation of complex browser APIs and CSS layouts, as well as UI component renderers such as accordions, cards, and sidebars. Understanding these four layers is crucial to getting started with Polymer.js development.

Creating a Polymer Application: Tips and Tricks

If you are new to Polymer web development, you may find it challenging to figure out where to start and how to create your application even after going through introductory articles and tutorials. The key to Polymer web development is creating elements, and that is what your application will be – a new element. However, the first step is to come up with a name for your top-level element, which must include a hyphen.

The next step is to carefully consider how you will componentize your application. One way to approach this is to identify the visual components of your application and create them as custom elements in Polymer. This way, you can reuse these components across your application.

To create a custom element, you will need to write a class that extends the Polymer.Element base class. You can then define the element’s template, style, and behaviour using JavaScript or HTML. Remember that each element should have a clear and distinct responsibility.

As you create more elements, you can start to compose them to build more complex components. This approach makes your application more modular and maintainable.

In summary, to create a Polymer application, start by creating a new custom element and componentizing your application into smaller, reusable components. With practice, you will become more comfortable with Polymer web development and be able to create complex applications with ease.

The Advantages of Using Polymer in Web Development

The Advantages of Using Polymer in Web Development

The great thing about Polymer is that you can easily integrate your application element into any web page by importing it and adding the tag. This is because in Polymer, your app is treated as an element, just like any other element in a web page. As a result, you can access its properties and methods from any other JavaScript code or library, such as Angular.js or Backbone.js. You can even use these libraries to create new elements.

Another advantage of Polymer is its compatibility with other custom element libraries, including Mozilla’s X-Tag. This means that any custom component you create is compatible with Polymer and any other browser technology. As a result, a community of element creators has emerged, sharing their newly created elements on forums like the Custom Elements site. You can easily grab any component you need from this site and use it in your own application.

Challenges with Using Polymer.js

Despite the many advantages of Polymer.js, particularly the ease of creating and integrating custom elements into web pages, developers, particularly those who are just starting out, may find the technology to be somewhat challenging to work with. Here are some of the main challenges:

Lack of Comprehensive Documentation and Guidance

While there are many tutorials and articles available online that help introduce you to Polymer and its concepts, not all UI and non-UI elements are well documented, and there is a dearth of information on how to organize larger applications. In some cases, the only guidance available is demo code, and it may be necessary to refer to the source code to understand how an element works.

Dependency Issues and Version Compatibility

When downloading Polymer.js elements, it is possible to encounter dependency errors and version-itis, pointing to different version dependencies within the same element. While it is understood that Polymer Elements are currently under heavy development, these issues can make development challenging, eroding developer confidence and interest.

Problems with Mobile Platforms

Polymer.js performance on mobile platforms can be problematic, particularly when downloading the entire library and polyfills without gzip’ing. Processing the polyfills, libraries, and custom elements appears to be an expensive task on mobile platforms, leading to frustratingly slow load times and blank screens. Additionally, some desktop functionality, such as drag-and-drop or rendering into a canvas, may not work properly or be unsupported on mobile platforms.

Inadequate or Confusing Error Reporting

Sometimes, error messages related to the core layer itself can be confusing or misleading, making it difficult to track down the source of the problem. This can result in a frustrating and time-consuming development process.


In conclusion, Polymer is an intriguing technology that is still in its early stages. As a result, it may not be the best option for developing large, enterprise-level, production-ready applications. Furthermore, there is a limited availability of guides and tutorials dedicated to Polymer.js web development.

The debate on whether the JavaScript-centric or DOM-centric approach is fundamentally better is ongoing, and while Polymer presents compelling arguments, counter-arguments also exist.

It’s worth noting that working with Polymer requires a certain level of expertise in browser technologies such as the DOM. This means that developers may need to learn the DOM API to perform basic tasks like adding or removing a CSS class from an element, similar to the days before jQuery. This may feel like a step backward for some developers.

However, it seems probable that custom elements will play a crucial role in the future of web development. Therefore, it would be wise for developers to explore this technology sooner rather than later. For those who have never created their own custom elements, Polymer and this tutorial provide a practical starting point.