We’ve all seen the annoying cookie notification which website owners are legally obliged to include on their sites. We can’t avoid them, so let’s have some fun with them.

Previously, for Canonical’s sites, the cookie notification was a shared CSS file and JavaScript file that we injected into the head of each site. This resulted in a cookie policy notification appearing at the bottom of the site.

Job done, I hear you say. But the styling of the notification was becoming dated and after the redesign of the Vanilla notification pattern we wanted to align them. So we decided to create a small service/component to serve cookie notifications in a consistent and more manageable way.

The JavaScript

We started by developing a small JavaScript function in ES6 that took an optional object to set two options: a custom notification message and an auto destroy timeout value in milliseconds.

To initialise the cookie notification component you simply add the following to your site’s footer.

var options = {
  'content': 'We use cookies to improve your experience. By your continued use of this site you accept such use.
 This notice will disappear by itself. To change your settings please see our policy.',
  'duration': 3000
}
ubuntu.cookiePolicy.setup(options);

 

The styling

We wanted to use Vanilla’s notification styling as the base for the cookie message. We could simply copy the SCSS or even the compiled CSS into the component and call it a day. But that would get out of date quickly.

To avoid this, we made Vanilla framework an npm dependency of the cookie project and include just the notification styling. Importantly, this gave us a version of Vanilla that we could use to indicate if the package needs to be updated and the effects of the update. We could also update the project’s styling simply by running npm update.

Serving the cookie notification

We decided to deliver this project with Bower as our package manager of choice, as we wanted to dictate the location that the Bower components are installed, which is defined in our .bowerrc file.

One tradeoff of using Bower as a package manager is that the built CSS and JS need to be committed into the GitHub repository. This is due to the way in which Bower installs packages: it effectivity clones the project into the components directory. Therefore the pull requests are not as clean but it can be worked around by mentioning which files to ignore in the pull request description.

This means we don’t need the target site or app to support Sass or ES6 compilation. Simply embed the built CSS and JS file into the head of the site or app.

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" media="screen" href="/bower-components/canonical-cookie-policy/build/css/cookie-policy.css" />
<script src="/bower-components/canonical-cookie-policy/build/js/cookie-policy.js"></script>

 

Conclusion

This process has helped to make our small components much more manageable, by splitting them into their own small project, giving them a home and a test HTML file which can run locally to see the development of component on its own.

We plan to continue to split out components into their own projects when it makes sense and delivers them in this fashion.