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A function for loading CSS asynchronously
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A function for loading CSS asynchronously [c]2017 @scottjehl, @zachleat Filament Group, Inc. Licensed MIT

Why loadCSS?

Referencing CSS stylesheets with link[rel=stylesheet] or @import causes browsers to delay page rendering while a stylesheet loads. When loading stylesheets that are not critical to the initial rendering of a page, this blocking behavior is undesirable. The new <link rel="preload"> standard enables us to load stylesheets asynchronously, without blocking rendering, and loadCSS provides a JavaScript polyfill for that feature to allow it to work across browsers. Additionally, loadCSS offers a separate (and optional) JavaScript function for loading stylesheets dynamically.

Install via npm

npm install fg-loadcss --save

How To Use loadCSS (Recommended example)

loadCSS is designed to help load CSS files that are not critical to the initial rendering of the page, and instead desirable to load in an asynchronous manner. (For including critical CSS in a page without blocking rendering, we recommend either inlining that CSS in a style element, or referencing it externally and server-pushing it using http/2. Read more here)

The standard markup pattern for loading files asynchronously is: <link rel="preload"> (W3C Spec). We recommend using this markup pattern to reference your non-critical CSS files. loadCSS's rel=preload polyfill is designed to enable this markup to work in browsers that don't yet support this feature (view link rel="preload" support status).

For each CSS file you'd like to load asynchronously, use a link element like this:

<link rel="preload" href="path/to/mystylesheet.css" as="style">

In browsers that support it, the rel=preload attribute will cause the browser to fetch the stylesheet, but it will not apply the CSS once it is loaded (it merely fetches it). To address this, we recommend using an onload attribute on the link that will apply the CSS when it finishes loading.

<link rel="preload" href="path/to/mystylesheet.css" as="style" onload="this.rel='stylesheet'">

This step requires JavaScript to be enabled, so we recommend including an ordinary reference to your stylesheet inside a noscript element as a fallback.

<link rel="preload" href="path/to/mystylesheet.css" as="style" onload="this.rel='stylesheet'">
<noscript><link rel="stylesheet" href="path/to/mystylesheet.css"></noscript>

We also recommend nulling the onload handler once it is used, since some browsers will occasionally re-call the handler upon switching the rel attribute to stylesheet:

<link rel="preload" href="path/to/mystylesheet.css" as="style" onload="this.onload=null;this.rel='stylesheet'">
<noscript><link rel="stylesheet" href="path/to/mystylesheet.css"></noscript>

After linking to your asynchronous stylesheet(s) this way, include the the loadCSS rel=preload polyfill script in your page. This file should be inlined or linked with http/2 server-push (a simple external script ). Here's how they would look inlined in the page:

<link rel="preload" href="path/to/mystylesheet.css" as="style" onload="this.onload=null;this.rel='stylesheet'">
<noscript><link rel="stylesheet" href="path/to/mystylesheet.css"></noscript>
/*! loadCSS rel=preload polyfill. [c]2017 Filament Group, Inc. MIT License */
(function(){ ... }());

By including this script (which became standalone and no longer dependent on loadCSS.js as of version 2.0) will automatically detect if a browser supports rel=preload. In browsers that natively support rel=preload, the script will do nothing, allowing the browser to load and apply the asynchronous CSS (note the onload attribute above, which is there to set the link's rel attribute to stylesheet once it finishes loading).

In browsers that do not support rel=preload, the script will apply a workaround (by temporarily manipulating the media attribute) to ensure that the file loads and applies asynchronously. It will also continue at a short interval to look for link elements in the DOM that need to be polyfilled. This means that the script will work from any location in the DOM (before or after the preload link(s)), but we do recommend placing the script immediately after all preload links for best performance.

Note: regardless of whether the browser supports rel=preload or not, the original link element in the source will be used to fetch and apply the stylesheet. Keep this in mind, as you may want to place the link in a particular location in your head element so that the CSS loads with an expected cascade order. As you'd expect, any media attribute present on the original link element will be retained when the polyfill is in play. When the polyfill has asynchronously loaded, it will be enabled immediately.

You can view a demo of this rel=preload pattern here:

Manual CSS loading with loadCSS

The loadCSS.js file exposes a global loadCSS function that you can call to load CSS files programmatically, if needed. This file is no longer part of the loadCSS primary recommended workflow (which is purely a rel=preload polyfill), but it's handy for cases where you need to dynamically load CSS from script.

loadCSS( "path/to/mystylesheet.css" );

The code above will insert a new CSS stylesheet link after the last stylesheet or script that it finds in the page, and the function will return a reference to that link element, should you want to reference it later in your script. Multiple calls to loadCSS will reference CSS files in the order they are called, but keep in mind that they may finish loading in a different order than they were called.

Function API

If you're including and calling the loadCSS function (without the rel=preload pattern), the function has 3 optional arguments.

  • before: By default, loadCSS attempts to inject the stylesheet link after all CSS and JS in the page. However, if you desire a more specific location in your document, such as before a particular stylesheet link, you can use the before argument to specify a particular element to use as an insertion point. Your stylesheet will be inserted before the element you specify. For example, here's how that can be done by simply applying an id attribute to your script.
<script id="loadcss">
  // load a CSS file just before the script element containing this code
  loadCSS( "path/to/mystylesheet.css", document.getElementById("loadcss") );
  • media: You can optionally pass a string to the media argument to set the media="" of the stylesheet - the default value is all.
  • attributes: You can also optionally pass an Object of attribute name/attribute value pairs to set on the stylesheet. This can be used to specify Subresource Integrity attributes:
    "crossorigin": "anonymous",
    "integrity": "sha384-Gn5384xqQ1aoWXA+058RXPxPg6fy4IWvTNh0E263XmFcJlSAwiGgFAW/dAiS6JXm"

Using with onload

Onload event support for link elements is spotty in some browsers, so if you need to add an onload callback, include onloadCSS function on your page and use the onloadCSS function:

var stylesheet = loadCSS( "path/to/mystylesheet.css" );
onloadCSS( stylesheet, function() {
	console.log( "Stylesheet has loaded." );

Browser Support

loadCSS attempts to load a css file asynchronously in any JavaScript-capable browser. However, some older browsers such as Internet Explorer 8 and older will block rendering while the stylesheet is loading. This merely means that the stylesheet will load as if you referenced it with an ordinary link element.

Contributions and bug fixes

Both are very much appreciated - especially bug fixes. As for contributions, the goals of this project are to keep things very simple and utilitarian, so if we don't accept a feature addition, it's not necessarily because it's a bad idea. It just may not meet the goals of the project. Thanks!

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