As mentioned, both web components and React allow us to create reusable UI elements. However, there’s a crucial difference. React components are confined to use within React applications, whereas web components can be employed in any HTML document or frontend library.
Web components are versatile, compatible with frameworks like React, Angular, and Vue, thanks to their integration into the HTML specification. For instance, a custom header element crafted using web components can seamlessly function across various libraries and frameworks. Now, let’s explore the key concepts, features, and libraries provided by React and web components.
The web components specification offers a mechanism for crafting reusable custom HTML elements, comprising three core technologies:
HTMLElement. It’s worth noting that custom element names must include a hyphen for recognition by the HTML parser.
When building components, the user interface (UI) plays a significant role. Creating visually appealing, engaging, and user-friendly components from scratch can be laborious and time-consuming. React faces challenges in this regard as it lacks scoped styling, necessitating the reliance on external modules.
React boasts a robust ecosystem with numerous UI libraries and frameworks, surpassing what web components offer in terms of options. Here are some notable UI kits for React:
For those opting to create custom styling for atomic components without relying on UI kits, styled-components or Sass-like CSS pre-processors can be employed.
Web components facilitate the incorporation of isolated style sheets for each custom element through the shadow DOM concept. While the web components API may seem complex due to its low-level, fully-featured nature, libraries like Lit simplify productive web component creation and CSS definition. Additionally, pre-developed web components can be readily utilized.
Accessibility is a crucial aspect of web development, ensuring that websites are usable by everyone. Both React and web components can support accessibility.
React facilitates accessibility by allowing the utilization of standard HTML techniques, including the
aria-* attributes in JSX. Although React introduces an additional
div for wrapping elements, this can be mitigated with React fragments (
<></>). Managing keyboard-only usage is also feasible through programmatically setting focus and using tools like react-aria for accessibility in React UI kits.
Web components inherit accessibility features by extending native HTML elements, ensuring their accessibility. Even elements within a shadow DOM remain accessible to screen readers.
From a developer’s standpoint, web components offer reusable components similar to React, but their objectives differ significantly. Web components provide a lower-level API for custom HTML element creation, lacking the fully-featured, app-developer-focused features of React.
React, on the other hand, strives to deliver a productive, declarative development approach for highly dynamic component-based UIs. While web components and React share the goal of reusability, their native web components technology doesn’t directly compete with or replace React. However, the growth of web component-based libraries may impact React’s popularity.
For instance, web components exhibit superior speed and memory efficiency in certain benchmarks due to their native browser support. Yet, creating web components using the standard API can be complex, whereas libraries like Lit simplify the process, offering a React-like approach.
React and web components are distinct technologies designed to address different challenges. React provides a comprehensive set of APIs for crafting component-based UIs, whereas web components offer a native browser standard for creating reusable custom HTML elements. As a result, direct comparison isn’t feasible, and the choice between the two depends on specific project requirements and goals.
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