Web Components Guide

Lifecycle Reference

Custom Elements have several "well known" method names which are called periodically through the life cycle of the element, and let you observe when an element changes in various ways. When you define these on your class the browser will call these on your behalf as various things happen to the element. Aside from constructor() (which is a native part of JavaScript itself) each lifecycle callback is suffixed with Callback, to make it easier to see that the browser will call this method for you.


The constructor is a native part of the JavaScript language. It exists for any class, and a Custom Element is no different. Because Custom Elements must always extend from HTMLElement (or another tags constructor, for example HTMLDialogElement), it always has a "super class", and so the first thing it must do is call super():

class MyElement extends HTMLElement {
  constructor() {

Typically constructor gets called when you instantiate a class with new (e.g. new MyElement()). HTML Elements will throw an error if you try to instantiate them like this though, instead if you want to create one you have to use the document.createElement factory method.

Whenever an already defined element is created, its constructor will be called. So that means:

When an element gets defined, any matching tags that are already in the HTML document will have their constructor called.

What is constructor good for?

Because the constructor() is typically called before the element has any attributes or sometimes any inner HTML, it's not a great idea to query an element to see if it has attributes, or query its DOM. Instead, the constructor() is the best place to initialize private internal state.

In general, work should probably be deferred to connectedCallback() as much as possible.

If the constructor() throws an error for any reason, then the browser cannot "upgrade" the element to your class, and so instead of inheriting from your class, the element will fall back to being an HTMLUnknownElement.


The connectedCallback() is a "well known" method. It doesn't exist as part of native JavaScript classes, instead it's something that the browser knows about just within the context of custom Elements.

When the browser attaches an element to the DOM tree, if it has a connectedCallback(), then that will be called. So that means:

What is connectedCallback good for?

The connectedCallback is called as soon as the element is attached to a document, and so the elements .ownerDocument property will be available (usually that will point to the global document object).

This may occur before an element has any children appended to it, so you should be careful not expect an element to have children during a connectedCallback call. This means you might want to avoid using APIs like querySelector.

Instead use this function to initialize itself, render any ShadowDOM and add global event listeners.

If your element depends heavily on its children existing, consider adding a MutationObserver in the connectedCallback to track when your elements children change.


Just like connectedCallback(), disconnectedCallback() is a "well known" method. It doesn't exist as part of native JavaScript classes, instead it's something that the browser knows about just within the context of custom Elements.

What is disconnectedCallback good for?

disconnectedCallback() is sort of like the opposite of connectedCallback(). Anything that you do in connectedCallback() should be undone in disconnectedCallback(). This means if you have called addEventListener in your connectedCallback() you'll need call removeEventListener in the disconnectedCallback().


The attributeChangedCallback() is a "well known" method. It doesn't exist as part of native JavaScript classes, instead it's something that the browser knows about just within the context of custom Elements.

What is attributeChangedCallback good for?

On its own, attributeChangedCallback() won't do anything. It gets called whenever an observed attribute changes value. Observed attributes are attributes a class declares that it would like to observe, through the static observedAttributes property:

class MyElement extends HTMLElement {
  static observedAttributes = ["my-attribute", "other-attribute"]
  // ^ declare you'd like to observe "my-attribute" and "other-attribute"

  attributeChangedCallback(name, oldValue, newValue) {
    if (name === "my-attribute") {
      console.log("my-attribute changed!")
    } else if (name === "other-attribute") {
      console.log("other-attribute changed!")

When a document is parsed all the attributes which are observed will result in a call to attributeChangedCallback(). This can happen before the element is connected and connectedCallback has been called, so avoid relying on the element being connected during this time.

The attributeChangedCallback() will be called whenever setAttribute, removeAttribute, toggleAttribute are called if they are changing an observed attribute.

Attributes are also nodes that can be constructed with document.createAttribute(), which returns an Attr object. This Attr object can then be applied to the element via .setAttributeNode(). This will also result in the attributeChangedCallback() being called if it's an observed attribute. An Attr object also has a .value property; changing that will also call attributeChangedCallback().

It's worth noting that even if the new value is the same as the old value, calling setAttribute or changing the .value on an Attr will result in the attributeChangedCallback() being called. In other words, it's possible for attributeChangedCallback to be called when oldValue === newValue. In most cases this really won't matter much, and in some cases this is very helpful; but sometimes this can bite, especially if you have non-idempotent code inside your attributeChangedCallback. Try to make sure operations inside attributeChangedCallback are idempotent, or perhaps consider adding a check to make sure oldValue !== newValue before performing operations which may be sensitive to this.


The adoptedCallback() is another well known method gets called when your element moves from one document to another (such as an iframe). It's rare that this happens, and so for the most part you can skip implementing this, but it can be useful especially if you have event listeners on the document or window, which will change when the adoptedCallback() is called.


Here's a quick summary showing how each of the lifecycle elements get called during some typical code:

  class extends HTMLElement {
    static observedAttributes = ["some-attr"]

const el = document.createElement("my-element")
// browser calls `el.constructor()`

el.setAttribute("some-attr", "some-value")
// browser calls `el.attributeChangedCallback('some-attr', null, 'some-value')`

el.setAttribute("other-attr", "some-value")
// (nothing called)

// browser calls `el.connectedCallback()`

// browser calls `disconnectedCallback()`

// browser calls `connectedCallback()`

// browser calls `disconnectedCallback()`
// browser calls `connectedCallback()`

// browser calls `disconnectedCallback()`
// browser calls `adoptedCallback()`
// browser calls `connectedCallback()`