The power of SvelteJS A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Web Development

The Power of SvelteJS: A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Web Development in 2023

ProgrammingJavascript

Last updated on September 4th, 2023

Introduction

SvelteJS is a new open-source JavaScript framework that has been gaining popularity as a lightweight and performant approach for building web user interfaces. In this article, we will dive into Svelte to understand its capabilities and how it compares to existing UI frameworks.

Overview of SvelteJS

SvelteJS describes itself as a “compiler” rather than a framework. It converts Svelte components into highly optimized vanilla JavaScript during the build process rather than interpreting them at runtime.

This results in smaller bundle sizes and better performance compared to traditional approaches using a library or virtual DOM. SvelteJS is used to build single page applications and web interfaces.

Some key features of Svelte include:

  • Compiles to vanilla JS – No dependencies needed at runtime leading to lightweight output.
  • Reactive declarations – Declarative syntax using reactive statements instead of imperative code. Automatically updates DOM when state changes.
  • Virtual DOM-less – Updates DOM directly without virtual DOM abstraction layer.
  • Component scoped styling – CSS is encapsulated in each component.
  • Transitions – Built-in animation and transition support.
  • Small size – Lean 3KB gzipped size compared to frameworks like React and Vue.

Getting Started with Svelte project

Creating a new Svelte project is simple using templates:

npx degit sveltejs/template my-svelte-project
cd my-svelte-project
npm install
npm run dev

This boots up a dev server to build and run your app.

Let’s create a simple Button component:

<!-- Button.svelte -->

<script>
  export let text;
</script>

<button on:click>{text}</button>

<style>
  button {
    padding: 0.5rem 1rem;
    font-size: 1rem;
  } 
</style>

And include it from App component:

<!-- App.svelte -->

<script>
  import Button from './Button.svelte';
</script>

<Button text="Submit" />

This process of importing and nesting components will be familiar for developers from other frameworks like React or Vue.

Reactivity

A key feature of Svelte is reactivity built into its compiler. We can declare reactive state that stays synced with the DOM:

<script>
  let count = 0;
</script>

<button on:click={() => count++}>
  Clicks: {count}
</button>

Updates to count will automatically refresh DOM elements using it. There is no need to manually manage subscriptions or change detection like in Angular or React.

Svelte also provides built-in directives like:

  • $: for reacting to state changes.
  • # and : for binding DOM elements to variables.
  • {#await} for awaiting promises and showing pending/error states.

And more that accelerate reactivity with minimal code.

Components

Components are the building blocks of Svelte apps. They are standalone units of interface logic written as .svelte files.

For example, we can have a component Table.svelte like:

<script>
  export let data;
  export let columns;
</script>

<table>
  <!-- render table -->
</table>

And use it from another component:

<script>
  import Table from './Table.svelte';

  let myData = [/** some data **/];
</script>

<Table {data} {columns}/>

Components allow encapsulating logic with data flow explicitly passed in as props. Custom elements can also be created using svelte:options.

Transitions

SvelteJS provides built-in animation and transition support. For example, we can fade elements in and out:

{#if visible}
  <div transition:fade>
    Fades in and out
  </div>  
{/if}

Transitions can be applied on elements using the transition directive. Many prebuilt transitions like fade, slide, scale, blur etc. are available.

Custom CSS transitions can also be created:

/* For <div transition:custom> */
.custom-enter-from {
  transform: translateX(-10px);
  opacity: 0;
}

.custom-enter-to {
  transform: translateX(0);
  opacity: 1;
}

This allows declaring transitions alongside component logic elegantly.

Stores

For shared state management, Svelte provides stores which are writable observables. Components can subscribe to stores and the store value is synced reactively.

For example:

// counter.js
import { writable } from 'svelte/store';

export const count = writable(0);

Components can then import and subscribe to the store:

<script>
  import { count } from './counter.js';

  const unsubscribe = count.subscribe(value => {
    /* reacts when count changes */ 
  });
</script>

Current count: {$count}

Stores provide a straightforward way to share state between components.

Comparison with Other Frameworks

FrameworkBundle SizeLearning CurvePerformanceDocumentation
SvelteVery SmallLowerVery HighGood
ReactLargeMediumHighExcellent
VueMediumLowerHighExcellent
AngularVery LargeHigherMediumExcellent
Svelte vs Other Frameworks

Svelte delivers great performance via its novel compilation approach. Its learning curve is reasonable with template syntax familiar for web developers. Production readiness lags behind more mature solutions like React or Vue currently. But it offers an innovative new take on building UIs.

When to Use Svelte?

Svelte is well suited for:

  • Apps where startup time and performance are critical like dashboards.
  • Building component libraries or design systems.
  • Beginner developers looking for a simpler reactive framework.
  • Teams that prefer vanilla JS tooling over complex build setups.
  • Smaller apps where bundle size is important.

Its compilation model delivers the best efficiency for such use cases. More complex apps may prefer the maturity of React or Angular currently. But Svelte offers an interesting alternative UI framework worth exploring.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main advantages of using Svelte?

Svelte generates highly optimized vanilla JS code leading to smaller bundle sizes and faster performance. It also features a reactive declarative syntax that is easy to get started with.

How does Svelte achieve better performance?

During compile time, Svelte converts components into plain JavaScript removing the need for a runtime framework. This avoids the overhead of a virtual DOM layer etc.

Is Svelte production-ready?

Svelte is being used in production by some sites, but may not yet have the maturity, third-party ecosystem and long-term support compared to alternatives like React or Vue.

Does Svelte have good documentation?

The Svelte documentation site explains key concepts well with examples. But being a newer framework, it lacks the breadth of docs, tutorials and Q&As found for more established options.

What are the limitations of using Svelte?

Immaturity compared to older solutions, weaker TypeScript support, smaller community and third-party library availability are some limitations as of today.

Conclusion

Svelte brings a unique compiler based approach that results in faster and smaller web apps compared to traditional JavaScript frameworks. Its reactive declarative syntax and inbuilt transitions provide a more intuitive development experience. While not yet as feature rich or battle-tested as alternatives, Svelte delivers on its performance and size promises. It will appeal to teams looking for efficiency gains and a lightweight framework.

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