The straw-man proposal for Imperative Shadow DOM distribution API. The context is:

[Update] This proposal was posted here.

Declarative API and Imperative API should be exclusively used in each shadow tree

Mixing declarative API and imperative API would be troublesome and can be the cause of confusions for web developers. We can invent complex rules, however, no one wants to remember complex rules. Also, supporting both in the same shadow tree would make a browser engine complex, which I don't want.

Thus, we don't allow mixing declarative API and imperative API in the same shadow tree. Web developers have to show their opt-in to use imperative API for each shadow tree.

A shadow root has an associated slotting. Web developers can set shadow root's slotting to manual by specifying it in attachShadow:

const sr = attachShadow({ mode: ..., (optional) slotting: 'manual' })

The manual means "we support only imperative APIs for the shadow tree". The default is "we support only declarative API for the shadow tree".

Imperative Slotting API

In addition to assigned nodes, which is already defined in DOM Standard, a slot has an associated manually-assigned-nodes (ordered list). Unless stated otherwise, it is empty.

A slot gets new API, called assign (tentative name).

Basically, slot.assign(sequence<Node> nodes) sets the slot's manually-assigned-nodes to nodes. See the later section for details.

manually-assigned-nodes is an internal field. It is write-only. Users cannot read the value directly.

Changes to HTML Standard


partial interface HTMLSlotElement {
  void assign(sequence<Node> nodes)

slot.assign(sequence<Node> nodes) runs the following steps:

  1. Set the slot's manually-assigned-nodes to nodes.
  2. Run assign slotables for a tree with slot’s tree.

step 2 is required because we have to re-calculate assigned nodes of every slots in the tree at this timing.

Note: The detail is explained later, however, it would be worth noting that manually-assigned-nodes is not used as assigned nodes as is. You can think that slot.assign(sequence<Node> nodes) tell the engine candidate nodes from where assigned nodes are constructed.

Changes to DOM Standard


ShadowRootInit {
   (optional) sloting: 'manual'|'auto' //  (if omitted, it is 'auto');
} Finding slots and slotables

To find a slot need to be updated. Other steps don't need to be updated from the standard's perspective, I think, thanks to well-factored each steps.

To find a slot for a given slotable slotable and an optional open flag (unset unless stated otherwise), run these steps:

  1. If slotable’s parent is null, then return null.

  2. Let shadow be slotable’s parent’s shadow root.

  3. If shadow is null, then return null.

  4. If the open flag is set and shadow’s mode is not "open", then return null.

  5. [New Step] If shadow's slotting is manual, return the first slot in shadow’s tree whose manually-assigned-nodes includes slotable, if any, and null otherwise.

  6. Otherwise, return the first slot in shadow’s tree whose name is slotable’s name, if any, and null otherwise. (<= No change)

Note: This change implies:

  • manually-assigned-nodes is used only when a slot is in a shadow tree whose slotting is manual.

  • manually-assigned-nodes is not used when a slot is in a shadow tree whose slotting is auto.

    Web developers can call slot.assign(...) for such a slot, however, it is a sort of no-op, at least until the slot is moved to another shadow tree with 'manual', where manually-assigned-nodes might have a meaning (but it is unlikely).

  • If the same node is set to manually-assigned-nodes of more than one slots, the first slot in tree-order takes that node. The slot's location in the tree matters, as declarative API does so.


Example 1: How imperative slotting API works in slotting=manual.

├──/shadowroot (slotting=manual)
│   ├── slot1
│   └── slot2
├── A
└── B
// '==' means ArrayEquals.
assert(slot1.assignedNodes() == []);
assert(slot2.assignedNodes() == []);


assert(slot2.assignedNodes() == [A]);

slot2.assign([B, A]); // The order doesn't matter.

assert(slot2.assignedNodes() == [A, B]);


assert(slot1.assignedNodes() == [A]);
assert(slot2.assignedNodes() == [B]);

slot1.assign([A, A, A, host]); // We don't throw an exepction here.

assert(slot1.assignedNodes() == [A]);
assert(slot2.assignedNodes() == [B]);


assert(slot1.assignedNodes() == []);
assert(slot2.assignedNodes() == [A, B]);


assert(slot1.assignedNodes() == []);
assert(slot2.assignedNodes() == []);

Example 1: Imperative slotting API doesn't have any effect in a shadow root with slotting=auto.

├──/shadowroot (slotting=auto) (default)
│   ├── slot1 name=slot1
│   └── slot2 name=slot2
├── A slot=slot1
└── B slot=slot2
assert(slot1.assignedNodes() == [A]);
assert(slot2.assignedNodes() == [B]);

slot1.assign([A, B]); // This doesn't have any effect because this shadow tree's slotting is auto

assert(slot1.assignedNodes() == [A]);
assert(slot2.assignedNodes() == [B]);

Open Questions

  • Should we reset manually-assigned-nodes at some timings? e.g. when a slot is connected / or disconnected.

    The current proposal never resets manually-assigned-nodes. This rule is easy to remember. That would cover the most use cases, I think.

  • Using sequence<Node> would be a right choice in slot.assign, given that the order doesn't matter?

    If WebIDL has a better type, like Set<Node>, we should use it.