The History of Polymer – Comic Version

Photo by Aman Shrivastava on Unsplash

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DOM

In 2004 a committee produces something called the DOM, which was a browser spec.
It was thought of as inadequate, and there wasn’t much you could do.

Frameworks:

But wait! This is a chance to re-invent! Coders love that!
A succession of frameworks emerged, each competing to re-invent DOM better than the others, with bolt-on JS. There were many. Each, was of course, ‘the best’ especially compared to the other choices. Developers love that.

Some figured “Heh, since we’re re-inventing, we may as well throw in the kitchen sink.” So some of these frameworks got pretty fat. “We’ll run your app, but first it has to download 700k of minified js.”

Web Components, and Polymer

Years later, the chrome team somehow observed all this crazy activity and said “Hey, since everyone agrees the DOM sucks, why don’t we just fix it?” The web component spec emerged, not even sure by who, but google’s chrome team was all over it.

“Hey, this is a good spec, let’s implement it in our browser, and we can write polyfills for other browsers that aren’t ready yet. Then we can write a helper library to implement stuff like getters and setters, for this new spec to consume. We can call it Polymer. It will be more of anti-framework than a framework. Use the platform!”

The chrome team guessed that first Polymer would help, but eventually it almost would go away, as browsers implemented more and more of the spec as core browser functionality.

Frameworks Respond

“Oh great, now there’s no need for a re-invention of the DOM wheel any more!” said no authors of bolt-on frameworks, anywhere.

Even more new frameworks emerged, just in case developers needed more design approaches to evaluate, and more apps to be written in future abandon-ware.

Polymer Captures Massive Market Share

Many years and 2 major versions later, Polymer emerged as a prominent alternative to the other, fatter, do-more-better frameworks. Polymer captures over 1% of the front end market by January 2018, some believe!

Most developers refuse to mention Polymer as an alternative, because “It’s too hard, too low level, you have to know javascript”
Developers hate that.

Youtube and a few other google products were re-written in Polymer.

And that’s the end of Polymer’s short history. For now.