28. September 2015
Stefan Bley
1

„There’s an element for that!“ – Polymer Summit 2015

Polymer LogoRecently, Polymer has been released in its first stable version 1.0. Polymer is a library on top of Web Components that allows to create reusable components for web applications. Version 1.0 is a complete rewrite and introduces a lot of features that weren’t available in previous 0.5. To boost popularity of the library the Polymer team organized their first Polymer Summit in Amsterdam, Netherlands. I had the chance to attend.

With Amsterdam being one of the startup hubs in Europe, they definitely chose an adequate location to present the future of web development. The Muziekgebouw, the city’s music hall situated on the waterfront, provided an amazing venue for this event.

Muziekgebouw Amsterdam

Muziekgebouw aan ‚t IJ

The summit started on Monday, 14 September, with a code lab. I was surprised how many people actually came and obviously so were the organizers. Registration went rather slow and power plugs didn’t work, but the worst part was Wi-Fi. It just wasn’t designed to serve 300 IT guys at the same time and barely didn’t work throughout the conference. For the code lab, it was hard to follow the exercises and download the tools without a reliable internet connection. As a consequence, people left early or just socialized and discussed modern web development.

I didn’t expect a Google backed event having these issues, but well, it was Polymer team’s first event so the next one will be perfect. The code lab is available online. Give it a try and see how it feels to create web apps with Polymer!

Polymer Summit @Muziekgebouw Amsterdam

Polymer Summit

The second day was packed with talks from the Polymer team and there was one central claim within all of them:

There’s an element for that!

Whatever forms a single unit of action or control can be made into a custom HTML element, including structure, styling and behavior.

In his keynote, Taylor Savage presented the current progress of Web Components implementation in browsers with even Microsoft Edge starting development. But even now, browser compatibility is not an issue thanks to the Web Components polyfill, a small JavaScript layer that allows to use the specification across all modern browsers. The polyfill will eventually fade away, once the specification is fully implemented by all major browser vendors. So I think it is safe to say you don’t back the wrong horse using a Web Components based library like Polymer.

Polymer Summit agenda

Polymer Summit schedule

The Polymer Summit had a wide diversity of talks. The team gave an overview of Polymer’s pre-built elements ranging from simple UI controls to AJAX calls and even complex authentication via Google accounts. This is what „There’s an element for that!“ means.

The guys from Google’s design team delivered insight into Google’s Material Design and how these design principles were embraced in Polymer’s Paper elements. Other talks were about Polymer supporting cutting-edge technology like EcmaScript 2015 (or: ES 6), Web Bluetooth API, Service Workers and HTTP 2.0.

One emotional highlight was Laura Palmoro’s introduction to „Accessibility with Polymer“, telling her personal story of sudden loss of vision at the age of 14. I had never been concerned about accessibility much before but Alice and Laura’s talk taught me how easy it is to make life easier for people with disabilities with just a few attributes.

Polymer Summit lunch break

Lunch break

The summit closed with an Q&A session which I hoped could give me some information about Google’s strategy concerning web development. With Polymer and Angular JS there are two Google projects for modern web application development out now. While they surely have a different scope, it is not clear if they will be compatible or even merge somehow. There is very few information about Angular JS 2.0 on the web. From the Polymer team’s point of view it might not even be important, because Polymer can already be used independently to build web apps based on Web Components. Angular JS 2.0 might bring the framework around.

If you would like to see the Polymer Summit talks, they are all on a YouTube playlist. Also, try out the code labs mentioned above and follow the current development on Twitter: @polymer

Stefan works as a Senior Software Engineer at Saxonia Systems AG in Berlin and has been involved in various Java Enterprise and Angular projects. He loves experimenting with technology and shares his knowledge by speaking at conferences and community events. Currently, he is interested in blockchain and distributed ledger technologies.

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