Review the required tooling and instructions for setting up a local development environment.
It is also recommended to review the Component Basics tutorial to understand the fundamentals of client-side libraries and AEM.
If you successfully completed the previous chapter, you can reuse the project and skip the steps for checking out the starter project.
Check out the base-line code that the tutorial builds on:
Check out the
tutorial/client-side-libraries-start branch from GitHub
$ cd aem-guides-wknd
$ git checkout tutorial/client-side-libraries-start
Deploy code base to a local AEM instance using your Maven skills:
$ mvn clean install -PautoInstallSinglePackage
If using AEM 6.5 or 6.4, append the
classic profile to any Maven commands.
$ mvn clean install -PautoInstallSinglePackage -Pclassic
You can always view the finished code on GitHub or check out the code locally by switching to the branch
ui.frontend module and a webpack development server for dedicated front-end development.
In this chapter, you add some baseline styles for the WKND site and the Article Page Template to bring the implementation closer to the UI design mockups. You use an advanced front-end workflow to integrate a webpack project into an AEM client library.
Article Page with baseline styles applied
More information about using Client-Side Libraries can be found here.
Client-side libraries do have some limitations. Most notably is a limited support for popular front-end languages like Sass, LESS, and TypeScript. In the tutorial, let’s look at how the ui.frontend module can help solve this.
Next let’s explore the organization of clientlibs generated by the AEM Project Archetype.
High-level diagram Client-side Library organization and page inclusion
Using VSCode or other IDE open up the ui.apps module.
Expand the path
/apps/wknd/clientlibs to view the clientlibs generated by the archetype.
In the below section, these clientlibs are reviewed in greater details.
The following table summarizes the client libraries. More details about including Client Libraries can be found here.
|embeds Core Component client libs
|Generates the CSS necessary for Layout Mode to work.
|Mobile/Tablet breakpoints can be configured here
|Contains site-specific theme for the WKND Site
|Generated by the
|Embeds any third-party dependencies
|Generated by the
clientlib-dependencies are ignored from source control. This is by design, since these are generated at build time by the
Next, update the base styles defined in the ui.frontend module. The files in the
ui.frontend module generate the
clientlib-dependecies libraries that contain the Site theme and any third-party dependencies.
Client-side libraries do not support more advanced languages like Sass or TypeScript. There are several open-source tools like NPM and webpack that accelerate and optimize front-end development. The goal of the ui.frontend module is to be able to use these tools to manage most front-end source files.
Open up the ui.frontend module and navigate to
Open the file
main.scss is the entry point to the Sass files in the
ui.frontend module. It includes the
_variables.scss file, which contains a series of brand variables to be used throughout different Sass files in the project. The
_base.scss file is also included and defines some basic styles for HTML elements. A regular expression includes the styles for individual components styles under
src/main/webpack/components. Another regular expression includes the files under
Inspect the file
main.ts. It includes
main.scss and a regular expression to collect any
.ts files in the project. This entry point is used by the webpack configuration files as the entry point for the entire
Inspect the files beneath
These files styles for global elements in the template, like the Header, Footer and main content container. The CSS rules in these files target different HTML elements
footer. These HTML elements were defined by policies in the previous chapter Pages and Templates.
components folder under
src/main/webpack and inspect the files.
Each file maps to a Core Component like the Accordion Component. Each Core Component is built with Block Element Modifier or BEM notation to make it easier to target specific CSS classes with style rules. The files beneath
/components have been stubbed out by the AEM Project Archetype with the different BEM rules for each component.
Download the WKND Base Styles wknd-base-styles-src-v3.zip and unzip the file.
To accelerate the tutorial, several Sass files that implement the WKND brand based on Core Components and the structure of the Article Page Template is provided.
Overwrite the contents of
ui.frontend/src with files from the previous step. The contents of the zip should overwrite the following folders:
Inspect the changed files to see details of the WKND style implementation.
A key integration piece built into the ui.frontend module, aem-clientlib-generator takes the compiled CSS and JS artifacts from a webpack/npm project and transforms them into AEM client-side libraries.
The AEM Project Archetype automatically sets up this integration. Next, explore how it works.
Open a command-line terminal and install the ui.frontend module using the
npm install command:
$ cd ~/code/aem-guides-wknd/ui.frontend
$ npm install
npm install run is needed only once, like after a new clone or generation of the project.
Start the webpack dev server in watch mode by running the following command:
$ npm run watch
This compiles the source files from the
ui.frontend module and syncs the changes with AEM at http://localhost:4502
http://admin:admin@localhost:4502 > OK
http://admin:admin@localhost:4502 > OK
npm run watch ultimately populates the clientlib-site and clientlib-dependencies in the ui.apps module which is then synced automatically with AEM.
There is also a
npm run prod profile which minifies the JS and CSS. This is the standard compilation whenever the webpack build is triggered via Maven. More details about the ui.frontend module can be found here.
Inspect the file
ui.frontend/dist/clientlib-site/site.css. This is the compiled CSS based on the Sass source files.
Inspect the file
ui.frontend/clientlib.config.js. This is the configuration file for an npm plugin, aem-clientlib-generator that transforms the contents of
/dist into a client library and moves it to the
Inspect the file
site.css in the ui.apps module at
ui.apps/src/main/content/jcr_root/apps/wknd/clientlibs/clientlib-site/css/site.css. This should be an identical copy of the
site.css file from the ui.frontend module. Now that it is in ui.apps module it can be deployed to AEM.
Since clientlib-site is compiled during build time, using either npm, or maven, it can be safely ignored from source control in the ui.apps module. Inspect the
.gitignore file beneath ui.apps.
Open the LA Skatepark article in AEM at: http://localhost:4502/editor.html/content/wknd/us/en/magazine/guide-la-skateparks.html.
You should now see the updated styles for the article. You may need to do a hard refresh to clear any CSS files cached by the browser.
It’s starting to look a lot closer to the mockups!
The steps performed above to build and deploy the ui.frontend code to AEM is executed automatically when a Maven build is triggered from the root of the project
mvn clean install -PautoInstallSinglePackage.
Next, make a small change in the
ui.frontend module to see the
npm run watch automatically deploy the styles to the local AEM instance.
ui.frontend module open the file:
$brand-primary color variable:
//== Brand Colors
Save the changes.
Return to the browser and refresh the AEM page to see the updates:
Revert the change to the
$brand-primary color and stop the webpack build using the command
The use of the ui.frontend module may not be necessary for all projects. The ui.frontend module adds additional complexity and if there is not a need/desire to use some of these advanced front-end tools (Sass, webpack, npm…) it may not be needed.
Next, let’s review how the clientlibs are referenced in the AEM Page. A common best practice in web development is to include CSS in the HTML Header
Browse to the Article Page template at http://localhost:4502/editor.html/conf/wknd/settings/wcm/templates/article-page/structure.html
Click the Page Information icon and in the menu select Page Policy to open the Page Policy dialog.
Page Information > Page Policy
Notice that the categories for
It is also possible to reference the
wknd.dependencies from the page component directly, using the
Navigate to the LA Skateparks page created using the Article Page Template: http://localhost:4502/editor.html/content/wknd/us/en/magazine/guide-la-skateparks.html.
Click the Page Information icon and in the menu select View As Published to open the article page outside of the AEM Editor.
View the Page source of http://localhost:4502/content/wknd/us/en/magazine/guide-la-skateparks.html?wcmmode=disabled and you should be able to see the following clientlib references in the
<link rel="stylesheet" href="/etc.clientlibs/wknd/clientlibs/clientlib-dependencies.lc-d41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e-lc.min.css" type="text/css">
<link rel="stylesheet" href="/etc.clientlibs/wknd/clientlibs/clientlib-site.lc-78fb9cea4c3a2cc17edce2c2b32631e2-lc.min.css" type="text/css">
Notice that the clientlibs are using the proxy
/etc.clientlibs endpoint. You should also see that the following clientlib includes at the bottom of the page:
For AEM 6.5/6.4 the client-side libraries are not automatically minified. See the documentation on the HTML Library Manager to enable minification (recommended).
Learn how to implement individual styles and reuse Core Components using Experience Manager’s Style System. Developing with the Style System covers using the Style System to extend Core Components with brand-specific CSS and advanced policy configurations of the Template Editor.
View the finished code on GitHub or review and deploy the code locally at on the Git branch
In the previous couple of exercises several Sass files in the ui.frontend module were updated and through a build process, ultimately see that these changes reflected in AEM. Next let’s look at a technique that uses a webpack-dev-server to rapidly develop the front-end styles against static HTML.
This technique is handy if most the styles and front-end code is performed by a dedicated Front-End developer who may not have easy access to an AEM environment. This technique also allows the FED to make modifications directly to the HTML, which can then be handed off to an AEM developer to implement as components.
Copy the page source of the LA skatepark article page at http://localhost:4502/content/wknd/us/en/magazine/guide-la-skateparks.html?wcmmode=disabled.
Reopen your IDE. Paste the copied markup from AEM into the
index.html in the ui.frontend module beneath
Edit the copied markup and remove any references to clientlib-site and clientlib-dependencies:
<!-- remove -->
<link rel="stylesheet" href="/etc.clientlibs/wknd/clientlibs/clientlib-dependencies.css" type="text/css">
<link rel="stylesheet" href="/etc.clientlibs/wknd/clientlibs/clientlib-site.css" type="text/css">
Remove these references because the webpack dev server generates these artifacts automatically.
Start the webpack dev server from a new terminal by running the following command from within the ui.frontend module:
$ cd ~/code/aem-guides-wknd/ui.frontend/
$ npm start
> firstname.lastname@example.org start code/aem-guides-wknd/ui.frontend
> webpack-dev-server --open --config ./webpack.dev.js
This should open a new browser window at http://localhost:8080/ with static markup.
Edit the file
src/main/webpack/site/_variables.scss file. Replace the
$text-color rule with the following:
- $text-color: $black;
+ $text-color: $pink;
Save the changes.
You should automatically see the changes automatically reflected in the browser on http://localhost:8080.
/aem-guides-wknd.ui.frontend/webpack.dev.js file. This contains the webpack configuration used to start the webpack-dev-server. It proxies the paths
/etc.clientlibs from a locally running instance of AEM. This is how the images, and other clientlibs (not managed by the ui.frontend code) are made available.
The image src of the static markup points to a live image component on a local AEM instance. Images appear broken if the path to the image changes, if AEM is not started, or if the browser has not logged into the local AEM instance. If handing off to an external resource, it’s also possible to replace the images with static references.
You can stop the webpack server from the command line by typing
At a high level, the
aemfedis designed to listen to file changes within the ui.apps module and automatically sync them directly to a running AEM instance. Based on the changes, a local browser automatically refreshes, thus speeding up front-end development. It is also built to work with Sling Log tracer to automatically display any server-side errors directly in the terminal.
If you are doing much work within the ui.apps module, modifying HTL scripts, and creating custom components, aemfed can be a powerful tool to use. Full documentation can be found here.
Using different methods of categories and embeds to include multiple client libraries it can be cumbersome to troubleshoot. AEM exposes several tools to help with this. One of the most important tools is Rebuild Client Libraries which forces AEM to recompile any LESS files and generate the CSS.
Dump Libs - Lists the client libraries registered in the AEM instance.
Test Output - allows a user to see the expected HTML output of clientlib includes based on category.
Libraries Dependencies validation - highlights any dependencies or embedded categories that cannot be found.
Rebuild Client Libraries - allows a user to force AEM to rebuild the client libraries or invalidate the cache of client libraries. This tool is effective when developing with LESS as this can force AEM to recompile the generated CSS. In general, it is more effective to Invalidate Caches and then perform a page refresh versus rebuilding the libraries.