What Google Polymer Means for You

The Story of Google Polymer

Google Polymer has seen an overhaul recently, which changes the way that it performs and the way that it uses system resources. Polymer, at its core, is the equivalent of an SDK for the internet, which assists with web application development through the use of Web Components, a new standard. Web Components allows for the creation of custom tags and elements for websites. The entire purpose of Polymer, and its design methodology, is to extend the elements that already exist on the web in order to help build stronger, more functional, web components.

Developing with Polymer

The Elements of Polymer are divided into a number of groups:

  • Iron Elements – These are basic elements with a little bit of extra functionality.
  • Paper Elements – These are Material Design elements for use with interfacing and UX across platforms Google utilizes.
  • Google Web Components – These are special elements which work with Google APIs, including some of their major services such as Feed, Maps, and YouTube.
  • Gold Elements – Gold Elements e-commerce elements. This is going to include format validation and elements for the input of customer and payment information.
  • Neon Elements – Primarily for special effects and animation.
  • Platinum Elements – Primarily for push notifications and offline use.
  • Molecules – These are wrappers which can be used for 3rd party libraries.

The last three, Molecules, Platinum Elements, and Neon Elements are, as of now, not yet available. They are still in development.

Installation is not too difficult. Polymer Elements all build on and assist each other and, thus, you will benefit from the use of a dependencies manager which will help install everything all at once. Bower is a good choice for this.

The Good Side of Polymer

There are some great things about using Polymer, for example:

  • Custom elements – The custom elements provided by Polymer allow you to create new tags and elements which are treated the same way that all other elements on the page are. Therefore, you can access properties from any JavaScript library or code.
  • Elements are cross compatible with other custom element libraries – Including X-Tag from Mozilla. These elements are compatible with any browsers.

Concerns about Polymer

There are a few things which bear mentioning during the discussion of Polymer. Here are a few of the things you will need to keep in mind:

  • Polymer is relatively new – How does this affect you? Simple. There is not a lot of documentation which is available. The best-practices have yet to be established, especially for large projects and applications.
  • Multiple versions – The fact that Polymer is new, again, plays a role here. Since Polymer is still being developed, there can be issues with dependency and versions are constantly popping up and changing.
  • Error reporting – Error reporting for Polymer just isn’t there yet. It can be difficult to even figure out where certain errors are popping up from.
  • Mobile issues – Performance on mobile devices can be spotty. The library and polyfills can take an eternity to download. Functionality can be lost between desktop and mobile platforms as well.

Moving Forward

Polymer is a great platform and a great design methodology. The issue, however, is that it is largely untested. The fact that it is still being heavily developed means that it is not as reliable as, perhaps, it should be. With that being said, it is definitely worth a look and worthy of further testing for developers.