Holochain Open Dev Reusable Modules Toggle darkmode

Frontend: Using a UI Module

Each frontend module is packaged as an NPM package and has (at least) these exports: some types, a client, a store, some elements and its context.

All of these exports are designed so that you can import and use whatever makes more sense for your use case. Pick carefully the layer at which you import the objects.

All the examples here use the @holochain-open-dev/profiles module, but any other module that follows this pattern will basically have the same kind of exports available for you to use.


These are typescript types that replicate the rust structs and types used by the zome at the backend layer.

Its usage is very straightforward:

import { Profile, SearchAgentInput } from "@holochain-open-dev/profiles";


A client is a typescript class that wraps the AppAgentWebsocket from @holochain/client and exposes the function calls that are available in the zome.


A store is a typescript class that maintains the shared state for the elements exported by this module. This shared state is crucial in order to have cool optimizations, like skipping zome calls because we already have the necessary information, or updating all the elements at once reacting to a signal that came from the zome.

After exploring different state management alternatives, like redux or mobx, we settled on svelte's stores as the base engine to build the stores.

Svelte's stores are actually a really simple and framework agnostic state management layer. They expose a simple .subscribe() method that can be plugged into an element to get automatic updates and rerenders when the underlying data changes. You can read more about them here.

This is a sample of using the ProfilesStore without any UI framework:

import { ProfilesStore } from "@holochain-open-dev/profiles";

const appAgentClient = createClient();

const store = new ProfilesStore(appAgentClient, config);

store.allProfiles.subscribe((allProfiles) => console.log(allProfiles));

The store constructor usually accepts a AppAgentClient object that allows for usage of the module in both native Holochain and Holo contexts. It can also accept module wide configuration, that will be read by any of the components of the module and may affect their behaviour.


All the elements exported by the frontend modules are Custom Elements, which means that they can be used in any UI framework because the browser itself can handle them. This means that you can use your favourite framework or web-based tooling, and still import and use the elements from the modules.

The modules are really careful to be application agnostic: they don't define any routes, or global CSS, or use any globally defined objects. This means that you'll be able to import them without interfering with the rest of your application.

Most elements are built using lit and follow the open-wc pattern. But any other technology that exports Custom Elements will work just fine.

See how to integrate the elements in each frontend framework here.

To include elements into your app you import them like this:

import "@holochain-open-dev/profiles/elements/profile-prompt.js";
import "@holochain-open-dev/profiles/elements/list-profiles.js";


As our elements are not just presentational, but hey also make calls to the backend by themselves via the store, we need a way to define and configure the store outside the elements, and then pass it down to the elements so that they can use it. Inspired by other frontend frameworks (React or Svelte), we use the context pattern as a way to inject the stores to the elements themselves.

In summary, the context pattern consists of defining a <*-context> (e.g. <profiles-context>) element that contains the store object, and that must be wrapping all the elements that need the store. When each element starts, it fires an event which gets captured by the closest <*-context> element, and it injects the store to the requesting element.

Each module exports its own <*-context> element, which knows how to provide the store to the elements from that same module. You just need to set its store property to the store object you have initialized,

To define the <*-context> element you can just import it:

// This can be placed in the index.js, at the top level of your web-app.
import "@holochain-open-dev/profiles/elements/profiles-context.js";

And then in your html:

<profiles-context .store=${profilesStore}>

Here, every framework has a different style of passing a property down to the component, but they all will work fine. See Integration with Frameworks for examples of integrations in each of the frontend frameworks.

As you may have guessed, context providers can be nested inside each other, to provide multiple contexts to elements that could need them:

<profiles-context .store=${profilesStore}>
  <invitations-context .store=${someOtherStore}>

Go here to read more about the library we use.

If you only need one component, you don't have to use the context pattern at all. You can just pass the store as a property to that component directly:

<list-profiles .store=${profilesStore}></list-profiles>