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You now have a button that's basically functional. But it's stuck using the existing text color for both pressed and unpressed states. What if you want to get a little flashier?

Shadow DOM helps prevent users from styling your element's internals by accident. To allow users to style your component, you can use custom CSS properties. Polymer provides a custom CSS property implementation inspired by the CSS Custom Properties for Cascading Variables specification.

You apply a custom property inside your element using the var function.

background-color: var(--my-custom-property, defaultValue);

Where --my-custom-property is a custom property name, always starting with two dashes (--), and defaultValue is an (optional) CSS value that's used if the custom property isn't set.

Edit your element's <style> tag and replace the fill and stroke values with custom properties:

icon-toggle.html: Before

  <style>
    /* local styles go here */
    :host {
      display: inline-block;
    }
    iron-icon {
      fill: rgba(0,0,0,0);
      stroke: currentcolor;
    }
    :host([pressed]) iron-icon {
      fill: currentcolor;
    }
  </style>

icon-toggle.html: After

  <style>
    /* local styles go here */
    :host {
      display: inline-block;
    }
    iron-icon {
      fill: var(--icon-toggle-color, rgba(0,0,0,0));
      stroke: var(--icon-toggle-outline-color, currentcolor);
    }
    :host([pressed]) iron-icon {
      fill: var(--icon-toggle-pressed-color, currentcolor);
    }
  </style>

Because of the default values, you can still style the <icon-toggle> just by setting color, but now you have other options.

From the demo folder, open up demo-element.html and set the new properties.

demo-element.html: Before

    <style>
      :host {
        font-family: sans-serif;
      }
    </style>

demo-element.html: After

    <style>
      :host {
        font-family: sans-serif;
        --icon-toggle-color: lightgrey;
        --icon-toggle-outline-color: black;
        --icon-toggle-pressed-color: red;
      }
    </style>

Run the demo again to get colorful.

Demo showing
icon toggles with star and heart icons. Pressed icons are red.

That's it — your element is finished. You've created an element that has a basic UI, API, and custom styling properties.

If you have any trouble getting the element working, check out the finished version.

If you'd like to learn a little more about custom properties, read on.

Frequently you want to define custom property values at the document level, to set a theme for an entire application, for example. Because custom properties aren't built into most browsers yet, you need to use a special custom-style tag to define custom properties outside of a Polymer element. Try adding the following code inside the <head> tag of your index.html file:

<custom-style>
  <style>
    /* Define a document-wide default—will not override a :host rule in  */
    html {
      --icon-toggle-outline-color: red;
    }
    /* Override the value specified in demo-element */
    demo-element {
      --icon-toggle-pressed-color: blue;
    }
    /* This rule does not work! */
    body {
      --icon-toggle-color: purple;
    }
  </style>
</custom-style>

Key information:

  • The demo-element selector matches the demo-element element, and has a higher specificity than the html rule inside demo-element, so it overrides the values there.

  • Custom properties can only be defined in rule-sets that match the html selector or a Polymer custom element. This is a limitation of the Polymer implementation of custom properties.

Run the demo again, and you'll notice that the pressed buttons are now blue, but the main color and outline color haven't changed.

The --icon-toggle-color property doesn't get set because it can't be applied to the body tag. Try moving this rule into the demo-element block to see it applied.

The html rule-set creates a document-wide default value for --icon-toggle-outline-color. But this value is overridden by the corresponding rule inside the demo-element element. To see this default value at work, comment out the corresponding rule in demo-element.html:

demo-element.html

    <style>
      :host {
        font-family: sans-serif;
        --icon-toggle-color: lightgrey;
        /* --icon-toggle-outline-color: black; */
        --icon-toggle-pressed-color: red;
      }
    </style>

Finally, note that to match a selector in the custom-style, the element must be in the document scope—for example, in index.html, not inside another element's shadow DOM. For example, these rules do not work inside the custom-style:

    iron-icon {
      --iron-icon-width: 40px;
      --iron-icon-height: 40px;
    }

That's because the iron-icon elements on the page are inside another element's shadow DOM. However, since custom properties inherit down the tree, you can set these properties at the document level to set the size for all iron-icon elements on the page:

    html {
      --iron-icon-width: 40px;
      --iron-icon-height: 40px;
    }

For more information, see the documentation on custom CSS properties.

Or review the previous section:

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