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Phnq_widgets is a framework for buliding Rich JavaScript Applications by organizing UI code along functional instead of technological lines. Instead of, for example, putting all the JS files into one folder, CSS files into another folder, and the HTML files into yet another folder, phnq_widgets enncourages the grouping together of code that is functionally related, regardless of file type, into widgets. I call this "functional code organization".

A widget is a self-contained chunk of application functionality that may include any or all of HTML markup, CSS, JavaScript or static resources such as images, all in a single folder.

Carving a UI into widgets has many benefits:

  • intuitive modularization of UI functionality
  • prevents (or at least discourages) monolithic JS and CSS files
  • facilitates the reuse of UI functionality
  • etc.


In addition to providing the substrate for functional code organization, phnq_widgets also provides several advanced web framework features:

  • implicit and explicit dependency management
  • lazy loading and deployment of client-side functionality
  • compilation of templates into JS object code, executable on server or client
  • automatic static file aggregation/minification/compression
  • pluggable interface for auto-publishing to CDNs

The details of these features will be discussed below.

Everything's a Widget

One of the benefits of functional code organization is that it is very amenable to modularization. Remember that a widget is self-contained and can contain everything that it needs (HTML, CSS, JS, images, etc.). Perhaps most important is that widgets particiapte in dependency management. Examples of things that can be widgets:

  • chunk of rich application functionality (i.e. toolbar, fancy select box, etc.)
  • 3rd party library (i.e. Twitter Bootstrap, jQuery UI, Isotope, etc.)
  • JS API for accessing some remote web service

Getting Started

Requirements: node.js, npm

First create an application folder and change into it.

mkdir my-app
cd my-app

Install phnq_widgets into your application.

npm install phnq_widgets

Generate your first widget called com.example.HelloWorld.

node_modules/.bin/phnq_widgets -g com.example.HelloWorld

Start up a minimal server.

node_modules/.bin/phnq_widgets -s

Now point your browser to:


You should see an extremely basic page.

Add some style. Edit the generated file widgets/com/example/HelloWorld/HelloWorld.css and make it look like this:

.__CLASS__ h1
	padding: 10px;
	border: 1px solid #999;
	background: #ccc;
	color: #fff;
	font-family: sans-serif;

Refresh your browser and and you should see the effect of the above CSS stylings.

Add some behaviour. Edit the generated file widgets/com/example/HelloWorld/HelloWorld.js and make it look like this:

var widget =
	ready: function($$)

Refresh your browser. Click on the text HelloWorld and you should trigger the alert box to open.

Putting the phnq_widgets utility in your PATH

In the Getting Started section we used the phnq_widgets utility a few times, but the relative path to the utility is a bit cumbersome to type, so putting it in your PATH helps:

export PATH=$PATH:./node_modules/.bin

Put that in your shell startup script, relaunch your shell and then phnq_widgets will be in your PATH whenever you're in a directory that has the phnq_widgets module installed.

Now, starting your minimal server is a bit more concise:

phnq_widgets -s

More documentation soon...