Components Basics

In order to create a new component you need to define a module and use one of the available component types:

  • Surface.Component - A stateless component.
  • Surface.LiveComponent - A live stateful component.
  • Surface.LiveView - A wrapper component around Phoenix.LiveView.
  • Surface.MacroComponent - A low-level component which is responsible for translating its own content at compile time.

Note: For simpler, stateless components that don't require advanced features like contexts, you can also define them as function components as described in the phoenix docs. If you prefer, you can use ~F instead of ~H for a full Surface experience. Keep in mind that some static validations provided by Surface may not available when using function components.

Types available

When declaring a property and/or data, you can define the type of the assign using one of the following types:

:any, :css_class, :list, :event, :generator, :boolean, :string, :time, :date, :datetime, :naive_datetime, :number, :integer, :decimal, :map, :fun, :atom, :module, :changeset, :form, :keyword, :struct, :tuple, :pid, :port, :reference, :bitstring, :range, :mapset, :regex, :uri and :path.

Note: Currently, some of the types above work just as annotations and don't have any practical use aside from documentation. If the type you need is not in that list, you can safely use :any instead. However, some other types like :css_class, :list and :event are handled differently, i.e. there are extra rules and behaviours applied to them.

Hello, I'm a component!
# Defining the component

defmodule Hello do
  use Surface.Component

  def render(assigns) do
    Hello, I'm a component!

# Using the component

defmodule Example do
  use Surface.Component

  def render(assigns) do
    <Hello />

Colocated templates

In case you want to isolate all templating code into a separate file, you can create a .sface file using the same base name in the same directory of the related component or liveview. For instance:

├── example.ex
├── example.sface
├── hello.ex
└── hello.sface

This way you can remove the implemented render/1 altogether. Any defined assign or function will be available in the new template.

Note: Unlike EEX templates, which can be used with any kind of text file, Surface's templates already extend HTML. Therefore, they are named simply as *.sface instead of *.html.sface.

Using aliases

Since a component is just a module, it can injected using either its full name or a valid alias.

Using full module name:


Using aliases:

alias MyProject.Components.MyButton
alias MyProject.Components.MyLink, as: Link

def render(assigns) do

The component API

Surface provides built-in functions that should be used to declare the essential building blocks of any component:

  • prop - Defines a property for the component.

  • data - Defines a data assign for a stateful LiveComponent or LiveView. The set of all data assigns represents the state of the component/view.

  • slot - Defines a placeholder (slot) that can be filled up with custom content.

All values declared using any of the above functions will be merged into the components assigns and will be available inside the template using the @ prefix.

Having everything explicitly declared brings a lot of benefits since all information provided can be used later for introspection allowing Surface to provide:

  • Syntactic sugar on attributes definition - e.g. CSS style classes.
  • Improved API for events - automatically setting phx-target.
  • Compile-time checking - validations of required properties, incompatible slots, etc.
  • Integration with editor/tools - for warnings/errors, syntax highlighting, jump-to-definition, auto-completion and more.
  • Docs generation - see the Button component below.

Let's take a look at how a component can be defined using Surface's API.

defmodule Button do
  use Surface.Component

  @doc "The type (color) of the button"
  prop type, :string, values: ["primary", "success", "info"]

  @doc "The Button is expanded (full-width)"
  prop expanded, :boolean, default: false

  @doc "Triggers on click"
  prop click, :event

  @doc "Triggers on focus"
  prop focus, :event

  @doc "The content of the button"
  slot default, required: true


The public API of the Button above can be automatically generated, including all information about properties, slots and events, divided by group in each individual tab as follows:

Name Description Type Values Default
type The type (color) of the button.

:string primary, success, info
expanded The Button is expanded (full-width).

:boolean false

Public vs private

Using property and slot defines the public API of the component as their values are initialized outside the component. Assigns declared as data are considered private since they can only be accessed inside the component's scope.

It's important to keep that distinction in mind when designing a new component. Remember that users need to be able to easily identify the public interface so they can properly interact with the component. The recommendation is to have everything explicitly declared and well documented using Surface's component API.