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Google's Polymer 1.0 brings reuse and better branding to Web development

Steven Max Patterson | June 2, 2015
Google’s Polymer 1.0 library promises to tame Web development awash in HTML soup, and make it easier for developers to create feature-laden apps and websites.

Google adhered to the Manifesto's principal to put releases in the hands of Web developers early in Polymer's evolution. Last November, Google's Polymer team produced a fairly complete version that reached and resonated with many developers. Web developers enthusiastically embraced that release and began to build with it, yielding valuable commentary that influenced the next release. Compatible with most popular front-end development frameworks such as AngularJS, Ember and React, there are few obstacles to adding Polymer to a development team's tool kit. Out of the box, Polymer supported mobile. It is responsive, resizing pages to fit mobile screens. Where user interaction is limited by the rendering of complex pages on small screens, mobile web developers can build elements specifically for mobile devices.

While Web developers experimented, Google's Polymer engineering team rewrote all the polyfill libraries with one goal: Near-native performance in popular browsers such as Apple's mobile Safari browser. In March of this year a near-complete release candidate reached developers and proved to have the sought-after near-native performance characteristics.

Progress, however, doesn't come without controversy, as anyone who's been following Polymer knows. Asked to respond to criticism that Polymer relies on standards that have yet to be ratified by the WC3, Polymer product manager Taylor Savage said "All the related standards are much nearer ratification. The shadow dom standard that had some contentious bits has made a lot of progress. All the browser vendors sat down recently to discuss shadow dom and we are on the same page bringing an agreement on a standard much closer to ratification."

For large, complex websites, especially when a pervasive brand influence is tantamount for the user experience, there isn't another systematic alternative to Polymer for distributing and managing design across a website. At scale, web components like Polymer become essential to reduce web development complexity and increase reuse if efficient and well-managed web development is one of your goals.

 

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