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React Standalone

Create framework agnostic components that are truly reusable and interoperable with all the benefits of the React ecosystem – using the HTML5 custom elements API to extend HTML's vocabulary.

Travis   npm   License MIT

  • npm: npm install react-standalone --save

Table of Contents

Getting Started

Take a look at the mars-weather component for an idea on how to structure your reusable component – however essentially a component consists of a tag name — such as mars-weather, the React component and an optional schema using osom.

import { createModule } from 'standalone';
import schema from './schema';
import component from './component';

export default createModule('mars-weather', { schema, component });

Once you have created your package, a custom element will be created with the supplied tagName which can be embedded into the DOM – all of the React lifecycle methods will be invoked, such as componentWillUnmount when the element has been removed from the DOM.

<mars-weather />

As the mars-weather component is an entirely custom element, it can be embedded in any JavaScript framework — Angular, Vue, React, Cycle, Ember, Vanilla, etc...

Bonus: Use Keo with shadow boundaries for a true Polymer-esque feel.

Handling Props

By specifying attributes on the custom element, the values of the attributes are passed into your component as props – any changes to the state will be handled internally to your component, whereas any changes to your element's attributes will cause a re-render with the updated props.

In the mars-weather example, we have setup the getDefaultProps method to return the default props, however users can override the unit prop by passing in a data attribute named data-unit.

<mars-weather data-unit="C" />

In the above case, the data-unit attribute will be transformed to unit — as Standalone strips away any data- prefixes — and then re-renders your component, allowing you to access the attribute as this.props.unit.

Specifying a Schema

As all HTML attributes are strings, Standalone allows you to specify a schema for your component, which will transform string attributes into the data type you expect using osom.

export default {
    unit: {
        type: String,
        default: 'F'

Once you have configured the schema to use for your component, you can happily setup the usual React propTypes specifying the data type you're expecting to be passed through.

Component Events

Using Custom Events you can easily set-up a communication channel between your components and the outside world.

// Instantiate `CustomEvent` and then specify the name of the event, followed
// by the payload which will be passed to your listener function.
const event = new CustomEvent('migrate-planets', {
    bubbles: true,
    detail: {
        planet: 'Saturn'


It's crucial that you emit the event as bubbles: true otherwise the event would simply halt at the findDOMNode(this) node rather than bubbling up to the mars-weather node — unless you dispatch the event on the mars-weather node by using findDOMNode(this).parentNode.

Within your component you emit the event — CustomEvent — using dispatchEvent and then bind your custom element — such as mars-weather — using addEventListener from the outside.

const node = document.querySelector('mars-weather');

node.addEventListener('migrate-planets', event => {

    // Update the `data-planet` attribute to reflect the newly migrated planet
    // which will cause the component to re-render with the update prop.
    node.setAttribute('data-planet', event.detail.planet);


Passing JSON Structure

As invoking setAttribute on your component causes React to re-render your component, it may be useful to supply a JSON payload to your component instead — especially if you're defining a multitude of attributes; this also helps with performance as you would only need one setAttribute to update many props and re-render.

By defining a schema you can specify an attribute that will be parsed as JSON.

export default {
    payload: {
        type: JSON.parse

Attaching a JSON string to your element's data-payload attribute will cause it to be parsed into an object using JSON.parse, and passed to your React component as this.props.payload which can be defined in the propTypes using PropTypes.shape.

Element Methods

All Standalone components extend HTMLElement.prototype and allow for adding custom functions to the element — which you can invoke once you have a reference to the associated element. Take a look at mars-weather's methods for an example.

const getWeather = function() {
    const weather =;
    return `The current weather on Mars is ${weather}!`;

// ...


When a component has been appended to the DOM it will update its HTMLElement prototype to assign the rendered component to getPrototypeOf(this).component — this conveniently allows you to access the props and state, and invoke functions internal to the React component.

It's worth noting that this.component will only be available once the component has been appended to the DOM.

Extending Elements

With the Custom Elements API it is possible to extend existing elements – using the is attribute to specialise. Standalone allows you to extend elements by passing the element to extend.

// Creates a `mars-weather` element.
export default createModule('mars-weather', { schema, methods, component });

// Creates a `input[is="mars-weather"]` element.
export default createModule('input/mars-weather', { schema, methods, component });

It's worth noting that when you extend a known element, your element will extend its prototype – in the case above the mars-weather element will extend input and its HTMLInputElement prototype.

Browser Support

  • Chrome >= v33
  • Opera >= v20
  • *IE >= 11
  • *Safari >= 7
  • *Firefox

* Requires the excellent webcomponents-lite.js polyfill (13K gzipped)


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