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Oleg Proskurin
Oleg Proskurin

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Unleash the Power of Popover API in Web Development

In the realm of web development, the shift towards more interactive and dynamic interfaces is undeniable. The need for elements like dropdown menus, tooltips, and popovers that offer a seamless user experience has grown exponentially. However, creating these elements manually can be a challenging and intricate task, especially when modern accessibility requirements come into play. In the past, developers had to rely on various UI Kits to implement this functionality in their projects. But these kits came with their own set of limitations.

Fortunately, with the advent of the new Popover API, creating such user interfaces and adjusting their styles and behavior has become significantly simpler. This article aims to delve into the core of this breakthrough in web development, providing a comprehensive guide to utilizing the Popover API effectively.

Understanding the Popover API

The Popover API provides a standard, consistent, and flexible mechanism to display popover content on top of other page content. This content can be controlled either declaratively using HTML attributes or via JavaScript, offering developers a high degree of flexibility.

Modal vs Non-modal Popovers

Popovers created using the Popover API are always non-modal, meaning that the rest of the page can be interacted with while the popover is being displayed. If developers wish to create a modal popover that requires explicit user interaction to close, they would need to use a tag.

Basic Syntax and Usage

To create a basic popover with a toggle button using the Popover API, developers can use the following code:

<button popovertarget\="popoverId"\>Toggle the popover</button\>  
<div id\="popoverId" popover\="auto"\>  
Popover content  
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In the above code, the popover attribute turns an element into a popover element and takes a popover state ("auto" or "manual") as its value. The popovertarget attribute turns a button or input element into a popover control button and takes the ID of the popover element to control as its value.

Controlling Popovers with JavaScript

While the Popover API offers a set of HTML attributes to control popovers, it also offers a JavaScript API for the same purpose. For instance, the HTMLElement.togglePopover() method can be used to toggle a popover element between shown and hidden states.

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Events and CSS Features

The Popover API also introduces new events and CSS features to aid in styling and controlling popovers. The beforetoggle and toggle events, for instance, fire on popovers when their state changes. The ::backdrop pseudo-element allows developers to add effects to the page content behind the popover(s), and the :popover-open pseudo-class matches a popover element only when it is in the showing state.

Delving Into HTML Attributes

There are several HTML attributes associated with the Popover API that developers should be aware of. These include the popover, popovertarget, and popovertargetaction attributes. The popover attribute is a global attribute that turns an element into a popover element, while the popovertarget attribute turns a button or input element into a popover control button.

The popovertargetaction can accept "show" or "hide" values. This is a handy way to add popover controls with the only HTML means.

Understanding the Interfaces

The Popover API introduces the ToggleEvent interface, which represents an event notifying the user when a popover element's state toggles between showing and hidden. This interface is used for the beforetoggle and toggle events, which fire on popovers when their state changes.

Extending Other Interfaces

In addition to introducing new interfaces, the Popover API also extends existing interfaces with new properties and methods. For instance, the HTMLElement.popover property gets and sets an element's popover state via JavaScript, and reflects the value of the popover global HTML attribute. Similarly, the HTMLElement.hidePopover(), HTMLElement.showPopover(), and HTMLElement.togglePopover() methods are used to hide, show, and toggle a popover element, respectively.

Exploring Browser Support

Despite its potential, it's important to note that the Popover API is not yet fully supported across all browsers. As of now, most major browsers, including the latest version of Safari Mobile (17.1), support it. Developers can check the current state of browser compatibility on


The advent of the Popover API marks a significant milestone in web development. It simplifies the creation of interactive elements, making web applications more dynamic and user-friendly. Developers can now create and adjust the styles and behavior of popovers with ease, enabling them to focus more on their core application logic. As the Popover API continues to evolve, it's expected to play an even greater role in shaping the future of web development.

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