Elix overview

Elix overview

Most applications make use of common, general-purpose user interface patterns such lists, menus, dialogs, carousels, and so on. Such patterns can be efficiently implemented and packaged as web components. Their modular nature lets you easily incorporate web components into your web application, and their standard definition ensures good results across browsers.

This arrangement permits a beneficial economy of scale, as common patterns only have to be implemented once. But that is not to say that it’s easy to develop general-purpose user interface patterns as solid components. To the contrary, implementing even simple patterns with a very high degree of quality can entail substantial complexity.

For that reason, the Elix project believes that implementing high-quality, general-purpose components is best done as a community effort. This spreads the cost of creating the components across organizations, and ensures that the resulting components satisfy a broad range of concerns and can be used in many contexts.

Core Principles

Usability excellence

All components are designed with the experience of the end user in mind. Each component tries to provide the best implementation possible of a very common user interface pattern. The components try to provide a great user experience by default, freeing you from having to worry about small details, and letting you focus on your application’s core value. Elix includes universal access in its definition of usability excellence: our components should provide a great experience to all users regardless of temporary or permanent handicaps.

As good as HTML elements

These components are measured against the Gold Standard checklist for web components, which uses the built-in HTML elements as the quality bar to which web components should aspire. These components should work predictably and reliably in a wide variety of contexts and with good performance.

Good building blocks

The project's components are designed to be used as-is, without requiring customization or further coding. But no design can meet every situation. (There is no One Carousel to Rule Them All.) So these components are factored into parts that you can readily recombine to create solid components to meet your needs. Composition is generally preferred over class inheritance as a means of aggregating behavior; see the elix-mixins package for details.

Use the platform

These components are generally written as "close to the metal" as is possible while still allowing code to be shared across components. These components are not built upon a monolithic framework, nor is any shared runtime required to use them. By virtue of being web components, these elements can be used with any front-end framework.

Maximize the audience of potential contributors

Designing components that appeal to a broad audience requires accepting contributions from a broad audience. For that to happen, we can’t rely on complex, project-specific abstractions or techniques. We try to write the component code to be as plain as possible, with the least amount of declarative, framework-style magic. In practice, that means that clear, verbose code is often prefered over tight but inscrutable code. For example, we’re willing to tolerate a certain degree of boilerplate code if that makes it easier for you to understand the code or step through it when you’re debugging your own application. If you’re able to write a simple web component in plain JavaScript, a minimal learning curve should allow to you to understand — and contribute to — Elix code.


We do our best to document not only the public API of each component and mixin, but also the underlying intention and design principles. We try to document why something is the way it is in order to make the best use of a potential contributor’s time.

Provide a minimalist, themeable appearance

These components are meant to fit unobtrusively into your application, and so come with a bare minimum of styling. They can be styled with CSS to achieve more distinctive visual effects or branding to blend seamlessly with your application’s own style.

Work on all mainstream browsers

This includes the latest versions of Apple Safari and Mobile Safari, Google Chrome and Chrome for Android, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox. Older browsers require the use of the web component polyfills. Please contact us if your application must support IE 11; use in IE 11 is possible, but too troublesome for us to support outside of a business contract.