What's next for X-Tag project

What's next for X-Tag project

Many things happened since Mozilla first announced its solution to bring Web Components capabilities to all modern browsers.

To continue our interview series we invited Daniel Buchner, creator of the X-Tag library, to explain how everything started and what's coming next.

Two years ago you made your first talk presenting X-Tag at Mozilla. What were your motivations to build it?

My motivation for writing X-Tag was two fold:

I. Create a polyfill for the Custom Elements spec. I saw this spec as the real foundation of Web Components - the other specs enhance the guts (Shadow DOM, Templates) and distribution (Imports) of custom elements.

II. I saw the Custom Elements API as a raw canvas that provided awesome lifecycle hooks and prototype definition capabilities, but lacked the features and affordances to solve the "80% case" for the development of robust, app-centric elements. I wanted to create a small library that would fill these gaps and make Custom Element development even easier for folks.

How hard was to create a framework based on a constantly changing set of specs?

It wasn't all that difficult working with a changing spec/implementation, primarily because we quickly came to the conclusion that we would focus on the library, and collaborate with Google on a single, shared polyfill.

This allowed us to run fast while still contributing to the spec development effort. I imagine change tracking of the specs and W3 conversations would have been more difficult if I wasn't directly involved in the Working Group. As I try to imagine the process with the eyes of a developer on the periphery, we could have been a little better at broadcasting changes, but that's more of a general, W3 process point, not a critique of any specific Working Group.

Are there plans to use Web Components inside of Firefox OS? What do you think is the future for the Brick project?

I know Firefox OS developers were eager to use Web Components, I believe they were waiting for the specs to land in Gecko before converting production FxOS code to use them. As far as Brick is concerned, after a few pivots, they are now making decisions about the direction/future of the project.

A couple of months ago you left Mozilla to join Target. How do you see the future of X-Tag now? Do you have plans to keep maintaining it? Are you planning to bring Web Components to Target?

I left Mozilla in April, and soon after the other major X-Tag developer, Arron Schaar, left Mozilla for a start-up. We both still actively work on X-Tag, and we just published a 1.0 release this November (2014).

We are also in the process of moving our docs to Greg Koberger's excellent ReadMe.io, and dramatically expanding code coverage. While working on other projects, I have started assembling a set of app-centric elements we intend to release around the end of the year, in a UI library named X-UI. X-UI will be a set of custom elements that only rely on the Custom Elements API (polyfilled or native).

If you're already using X-Tag or Polymer, you're set - just grab the elements you need and go go go!


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