Hello world with Plone and Riot (Javascript frontent library)

I’m working on a somewhat weird experiment. My end goal is to have a user friendly (and mobile friendly) faceted search interface over the items of a collection.

Seen through the eyes of my recent experience with VueJS, the classic Plone frontend APIs, such as JQuery and Patternslib/Mockup seem outdated and hard to digest. Any dedicated frontend UI library will seem much friendlier.

My self-imposed requirements were:

To all of the above, after a short look at MithrilJS, it seems like the best match is Riot. For the backend I’ve installed plone.restapi and this will grant a JSON based access, from the Plone backend, to the frontend API library.

The first hurdle was figguring out how to load Riot in Plone. The Mismatched anonymous define() module: error is the new :q puzzle of our time. Simply trying to load the Riot library with a <script> tag is impossible, due to the now available AMD support in Plone. After much headscratching and reading some Plone related forum threads that made no sense, I’ve finally figured it out. The main problem is that I foolishly thought that just registering a new resource in the Resource Registries configlet, with the proper URL, would be enough for Plone to understand that it’s dealing with a requirejs compatible library. Even “manually” declaring, in the resource registration, that it exports “riot” as a module, didn’t help.

The solution is to register a simple ++resource++my/app.js file in the Resource Registries, with the following contents:

  paths: {
    'riot': ['//cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/riot/3.4.2/riot'],
    'tags': ['++resource++my/riot-tags']
  shim: {
    'tags': ['riot']

require(['riot', 'tags'], function(riot) {
  return {};

The above code does the following: first, we register two libraries: ‘riot’ and ‘tags’. Notice that, while they all point to a js file, they’re missing the .js extension. And last, there’s a simple function, integrated with the requirejs machinery, that triggers the riotjs tag mounting process. But what is that riot-tags, you’ll ask?

One thing I love about Vuejs (beyond its API simplicity) is the single-file components. The Riot tags (basically the equivalent of components) are single files (usually with a .tag extension) that can be compiled and automatically mounted in the full page DOM. Neat.

Now for that promised “hello world”: in my statics folder, I’ve created a new folder called “tags”. Inside, the simplest component,

  <h2>HTML text</h2>

    console.log('hello from script')

saved as hello-world.tag.

Next, compile the whole tags folder as a single js file, using the riot compiler (easily installed with npm -g install riot):

$ riot -m -w ./tags/ riot-tags.js

Run in the statics folder, this will create the riot-tags.js file, which will be further included as detailed above. The generated file is AMD compatible (the -m flag, and it watches the tags folder for changes.

And finally, in a Plone template, insert a simple <hello></hello> tag. Hello world, indeed.