Quick Overview about HTMX

kirill ibrahim
3 min readApr 8, 2024

What is HTMX?

HTMX facilitates AJAX calls behind the scenes without the need for developers to manually write JavaScript code on the frontend. Here's how HTMX achieves this:

1. Extension of HTML Markup:

HTMX extends the HTML markup language by introducing new attributes that developers can add to HTML elements. These attributes define the behavior of elements in response to user actions or other events.

2. Handling AJAX Requests:

HTMX attributes, when added to HTML elements, define actions to be taken when specific events occur. For example, HTMX attributes can specify that an AJAX request should be sent when a form is submitted or when a certain element is clicked.
The following Example for official docs:

<script src="https://unpkg.com/htmx.org@1.9.11"></script>
<!-- have a button POST a click via AJAX -->
<button hx-post="/clicked" hx-swap="outerHTML">
Click Me
</button>

The hx-post and hx-swap attributes on this button tell htmx:

“When a user clicks on this button, issue an AJAX request to /clicked, and replace the entire button with the HTML response”

3. Automatic DOM Updating:

After sending an AJAX request, HTMX automatically handles the response from the backend. It ensures that the frontend UI (Document Object Model or DOM) is updated with the data received from the server without the need for explicit JavaScript code.

4. Integration with Backend:

HTMX relies on the backend to prepare and send HTML code snippets or documents in response to AJAX requests. Instead of exchanging JSON data between the frontend and backend, HTMX transmits HTML code, which is then directly rendered on the frontend.

5. Control over DOM Manipulation:

Developers can use HTMX attributes to control where and how the response HTML code should be inserted into the DOM. This allows for precise manipulation of the frontend UI based on the data received from the backend.

In summary, HTMX simplifies frontend development by allowing developers to define AJAX behavior directly within HTML markup using special attributes. This approach eliminates the need for writing JavaScript code to handle AJAX requests and updates the frontend UI seamlessly based on backend responses.

Why HTMX might not be the best fit for a project?

Here are some reasons inferred from the text:

1. Complexity of Web Interfaces:

In scenarios where web interfaces are highly complex and require extensive interactivity (e.g., applications like Dashboard), HTMX may not be the ideal solution. Such projects might benefit more from libraries or frameworks like React or Angular.

2. Maintenance Considerations for Multiple Clients:

If a backend serves multiple clients, such as both a web frontend and a mobile app, maintaining separate API endpoints to accommodate different data formats (HTML for HTMX and JSON for the mobile app) could become cumbersome.

3. Specificity of Use Case:

HTMX's strengths lie in scenarios where the frontend code structure can remain relatively simple. Projects with hyper-interactive interfaces may find more value in other libraries or frameworks.

4. Limitation to Full-Stack Applications:

HTMX requires a backend that can generate and serve HTML snippets or documents, which may limit its use to full-stack applications. This dependency on the backend's ability to provide HTML data could be seen as a constraint in certain scenarios.

While these points suggest situations where HTMX might not be the optimal choice, it's important to note that this doesn't imply HTMX is "not great." Instead, it highlights the importance of evaluating the specific requirements and constraints of a project to determine the most suitable technology stack.

Conclusion:

Why we should not be impressed by any new technology without taking a deep look at it:
HTMX offers a simplified approach to frontend development by seamlessly integrating AJAX functionality into HTML markup. While it presents significant advantages in streamlining code and reducing the need for manual JavaScript coding, its suitability depends on the specific requirements of each project. Developers should carefully consider factors such as the complexity of web interfaces, maintenance considerations for multiple clients, and the specificity of the use case before deciding whether HTMX is the optimal choice. Ultimately, by evaluating these factors thoughtfully, developers can leverage HTMX effectively to enhance their front-end development workflows.

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kirill ibrahim

I am a Web Front-End Engineer with 8 years of commercial experience working in various web-related roles. https://kirillibrahim.work/ My Twitter: @IbraKirill