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Rene Rubalcava
Rene Rubalcava

Posted on • Originally published at

Building a simple app in Dojo

I've been thinking about how I could demonstrate building a basic Dojo application beyond a hello world app or a Todo app. There are some really good samples in the dojo/examples repo. Then I came across this react application for searching for emojis and who doesn't have to search for emojis regularly, so I knew I found my demo. It also helps that the dojo template on Code Sandbox now uses TSX/JSX as the default.

Because the dojo template app uses JSX by default, it made this sample almost a complete one to one of the react sample. I won't go into detail of this application line by line, but I do want to cover some core concepts it shows.

Get Meta

Meta in Dojo is meta information about your widget. Pretty meta right?

When you build Dojo widgets, you never touch the output HTML of your application. There is no widget method to get a reference to the DOM. This prevents you from inadvertently changing a DOM element that is referenced by Dojos virtual DOM engine, which would be bad. So don't get too crazy here. But there are valid reasons for wanting to access a DOM node in your application. In the case of my emoji application, I am using a small library called clipboardjs to let me copy emojis to my clipboard from my application. This library requires I pass a DOM node it will use to copy data to the clipboard.

You can get this information in Dojo is via a meta. Dojo provides some metas out of the box for you, like Dimensions, Animations, Intersection, and more. You can implement your own custom meta to access DOM nodes using @dojo/framework/widget-core/meta/Base.

// src/widgets/ElementMeta.ts
import { Base as MetaBase } from "@dojo/framework/widget-core/meta/Base";

class ElementMeta extends MetaBase {
  get(key: string): Element {
    const node = this.getNode(key);
    return node as Element;

export default ElementMeta;
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The meta implements a get() method that will get the DOM node via a given key and return that DOM node. Now in my application, where I use clipboardjs, I can use my meta in combination with the this.meta() method of the Widget to get a referenced DOM node.

// src/widgets/EmojiResultsRow.tsx
import { tsx } from "@dojo/framework/widget-core/tsx";
import { WidgetBase } from "@dojo/framework/widget-core/WidgetBase";

import * as css from "./styles/EmojiResultsRow.m.css";

import ElementMeta from "./ElementMeta";
import * as Clipboard from "clipboard";

export interface EmojiResultsRowProperties {
  title: string;
  symbol: string;

export class EmojiResultsRow extends WidgetBase<EmojiResultsRowProperties> {
  clipboard: Clipboard = null;

  onAttach() {
    // use my meta to get a DOM node
    const element = this.meta(ElementMeta).get(;
    this.clipboard = new Clipboard(element);
  onDetach() {

  protected render() {
    const { title, symbol } =;
    const codePointHex = symbol.codePointAt(0).toString(16);
    const src = `//${codePointHex}.png`;
    // provide a `key` property to my widget element to
    // reference with my meta
    return (
        classes={[css.root, "copy-to-clipboard"]}
        <img alt={title} src={src} />
        <span classes={[css.title]}>{title}</span>
        <span classes={[]}>Click to copy emoji</span>

export default EmojiResultsRow;
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Now I am able to use my custom meta to get a DOM node created by my widget. This makes access to output DOM nodes flexible, but also protects me from shooting myself in the foot unintentionally. If I break my DOM, it is totally my fault now.

Core Widgets

Dojo provides a suite of widgets you can use for your own applications. This includes items like TimePicker, Select and layout widgets. For my application, I'm interested in having an input that I can use for search. Every time I update the input element, I want to filter the list of emojis shown in my application. So I'm going to wrap a TextInput widget so I can manage some local state and pass the value of the input to a filter method.

// src/widgets/SearchInput.tsx
export class SearchInput extends WidgetBase<SearchInputProperties> {
  @watch() private searchValue = "";

  private onChange(value) {
    if (!value) {
    this.searchValue = value;
    const { handleChange } =;

  protected render() {
    return (
      <div classes={[css.root]}>
            placeholder="Search for emoji"
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Yes, I could have used a regular <input type="text" /> here, but the TextInput is very convenient as it already has an onInput method I can use that passes the value of the input directly, and not an event I would need to do which, because I am lazy, I can really appreciate. Then I would need to use a keyup event, and maybe do some handling for different keys to on whether I want to get my value and why hassle with all that when Dojo provides a nice way to do it already.

I am also taking advantage of the @watch decorator to manage local state in my widget. I talked about this method in more detail here. This makes it very simple to manage the value of my input at all times.

You can see the full application in action here.

You can see that building applications in Dojo provides some safety and flexibility for you to piece together everything you need to build solid, and awesome applications. Dojo isn't just a toolkit anymore, it's a full blown framework and has a lot to offer!

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