CSS-in-JS with Emotion

What is CSS-in-JS?

CSS-in-JS is a styling technique where JavaScript is used to style components. When this JavaScript is parsed, CSS is generated (usually as an <style> element) and attached to the DOM. It allows you to abstract CSS to the component level, using JavaScript to describe styles in a declarative and maintainable way.

This method is very common in the ecosystem of some client-side libraries, such as React. So we decided to discuss how to use CSS-in-JS in Aurelia.

Why EmotionJS?

There are multiple implementations of CSS-in-JS concept in the form of libraries, but few of them are framework-agnostic, so we chose EmotionJS

Emotion, as described on its site, says:

Emotion is a performant and flexible CSS-in-JS library. Building on many other CSS-in-JS libraries, it allows you to style apps quickly with string or object styles. It has a predictable composition to avoid specificity issues with CSS. With source maps and labels, Emotion has a great developer experience and great performance with heavy caching in production.

EmotionJS & Aurelia 2 integration

To integrate EmotionJS and Aurelia, Follow the steps below: Add EmotionJS framework-agnostic version to your project with the following command

npm i emotion --save

Define a custom attribute and name it Emotion, just like the following code

import { inject } from "aurelia";
import { css, cache } from 'emotion'
export class EmotionCustomAttribute {
    constructor(private element: Element) {
    attached() {
        if (this.isInShadow(this.element))
            cache.sheet.container = this.element.getRootNode() as HTMLElement;
            cache.sheet.container = document.head;
    private isInShadow(element: Element): boolean {
        return element.getRootNode() instanceof ShadowRoot;

What is isInShadow? This method helps us to find out if our HTMLElement is inside of a shadow-root or not.

Why does shadow-root matter? Because Aurelia 2 supports ShadowDOM, we need to style those HTMLElements inside a shadow via the emotion library.

What is cache.sheet.container? The emotion library uses container configuration to inject styles into specific DOM. To support shadow-root, we should inject our styles into the shadow block but for global styles document.head is good.

Why did we choose attached? Detecting ShadowDOM mode for an HTMLElement is possible via this life-cycle method.

Now, Register the new Emotion custom attribute in your main.ts file.

import Aurelia from 'aurelia';
import { MyApp } from './my-app';
import { EmotionCustomAttribute } from './emotion-attr';

Add an object in your view model and call it cssObject.

export class MyApp {
  public message = 'Hello World!';
  private color = 'white'
  public cssObject = {
    backgroundColor: 'hotpink !important',
    '&:hover': {
      color: this.color

Go to your view and add emotion custom attribute to an HTML tag.

<div class="message" emotion.bind="cssObject">${message}</div>

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