Clay Components

Components are reusable, configurable, self-contained bits of the web.

Components in Clay consist of templates, styles, JavaScript models (data handling) and controllers (client-side functionality), as well as schema.yml files that define how they're edited with Kiln. General information on components is available in the Amphora docs, so this section will limit itself to discussing the requirements needed to edit components in Kiln.


Kiln assumes that every component has a Handlebars template, and that it uses data-uri to reference the URI of the component instance. For regular components that live in the <body> of a page, you must use a single root tag (which cannot be <a>) that contains data-uri:

<div data-uri="{{ default _ref _self}}" class="{{ componentVariation }}">
<!-- stuff inside the component, including elements and <style> tags -->

For components that live in the <head> of the page, templates are handled a little differently. As <meta> tags cannot contain child elements (almost all <head> components consist of <meta> tags), you must use an html comment at the beginning of your component:

<!-- data-uri="{{ default _ref _self}}" -->
<meta name="something" content="something else" />
<meta name="another thing" content="another bit of data" />

The root element of <body> components may include other attributes, such as data-editable or data-placeholder (more on those in Editing Components), and must be relatively positioned so the Component Selectors can display correctly.


Templates must be precompiled and added to window.kiln.componentTemplates for Kiln to re-render components after saving.

Model and Controller

Models (model.js) and controllers (client.js or controller.js) are two types of JavaScript files your components may contain (a third — upgrade.js — is only used in Amphora). Models allow components to perform logic on their data before saving and rendering, while controllers add client-side functionality to components. Both are optional.

Controllers are never run in edit mode, as they have the potential to interfere with Kiln. This means that certain embeds (which rely on 3rd party JavaScript) may need styling in edit mode. You may take advantage of the .kiln-edit-mode class on the <body> tag for this purpose.

Models are called when components save and re-render themselves. Both the save() and render() methods are optional, as many components require either one or the other. They both have the same function signature, and may return objects (the component data) or promises (that resolve to the component data). = (uri, data, locals) => {
// do some logic, then return the data that should save into the db
module.exports.render = (uri, data, locals) => {
// do some logic, then return the data that should be sent to handlebars

If in doubt, use the save() method, as it only runs when data is saved. Calling the render() method (every time a component renders) to do slow or intensive logic will slow down your component for end-users.

Models must be compiled and added to window.kiln.componentModels for Kiln to call them when saving and re-rendering components.


Schemas (or schemata, for pedants like myself) are the main connective tissue between components and Kiln. They define what kinds of fields components have, as well as how those fields are grouped. They also provide _description text for the components' Info Modals, _version for upgrading data programmatically, _allowBookmarks for easy duplication across pages, and _confirmRemoval for extra peace-of-mind on components like ads.

Schemas for components that are currently on the page are automatically parsed by Amphora and added to the page when Kiln loads. Schemas for other components are added when those components are added.

Styles and Style Variations

By convention (and especially if you use claycli), component styles go in a styleguides/ folder in the root of your Clay installation. This folder may contain folders for each site you're hosting, as well as a _default folder. When rendering, components will be loaded with styles from the site-specific styleguide of the site you're serving them on, falling back to the _default styles if those do not exist. For example, (when serving the article component on Clay will check if styleguides/nymag/components/article.css exists, and if not it will attempt to load styleguides/_default/components/article.css.

If you want to reuse the same component in different contexts, you may do so by adding additional css files to your site (and/or _default) styleguides. These "variations" are defined with the convention component-name_variation-name.css, and live alongside the regular component-name.css files. Once you've added one or more variations to a component, a "Component Variation" tab will appear in that component's Settings allowing users to pick which variation they'd like to use for that instance of the component. Picking "None" or "Default" will set the component to use the default (component-name.css) styles instead of a variation.