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Closures once sat obscurely in functional languages until languages such as JavaScript and Ruby brought them into the mainstream. Likewise, transformations have been buried in frameworks that are alien to the average developer, and the popularity of the transformation approach has been married to the fate of XSLT.

This is unfortunate because transformations are more about a new way of thinking than about any particular technology. They enable a powerful separation of content and logic from presentation, and the usefulness of this separation is important in a number of ways. As we move into the post-PC era, transformations provide one part of the answer to serving websites across a wide array of form factors.

Furthermore, the separation enabled by transformations enhances productivity and accelerates the iteration cycle for visual design teams. Meanwhile, for developers who rearrange DOM objects via JavaScript or jQuery, transformations are a new lens on their current workflow, and they open up new doors to optimizing tasks, such as server-side transformation.

In an industry that has no shortage of new ideas, sometimes the most useful thing is to connect new concepts with old ones to make them more digestible. That is what this article has tried to do with transformations. Hopefully, we’ve demonstrated the power of thinking in transformations, showing its relevance to anyone who works with HTML.


While designing APIs for live extensions, I decided to follow the following rules:

Live extensions should be declared in JavaScript.

  1. I strongly believe that everything that somehow changes the behavior of an element should be presented in a JavaScript file. (Note that better-dom inserts a new CSS rule behind the scenes, but this includes only implementation details).

APIs should be simple to use.

  1. No tricky file formats or new HTML elements: only a small amount of knowledge related to the constructor and event handlers is required to start developing a live extension (thus, the barrier to entry should be low).

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