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If your team is on the lookout for an easy-to-use tool with a wide range of features, Storybook JS is the answer. It can help developers build faster and more efficiently by allowing them to create numerous UI components in isolation quickly.
This blog lets you dive deeper into the advantages, limitations, and practical applications of Storybook JS. So, let’s start!
What is Storybook?
Storybook is not just a frontend workshop. It’s a creative playground for building UI components and pages in glorious isolation! Used by thousands of teams worldwide, it’s the ultimate tool for UI development, testing, and documentation. The best part? It’s open-source and completely free!
It provides a sandbox for creating, visualizing, and documenting User Interface components and allows developers to see how the components will look and behave in different states, making it easier to catch and fix issues early in the development process. Storybook is used by front-end developers and designers to develop components faster, improve the quality of their code, and ensure a consistent look and feel throughout the application.
It facilitates the development of elusive states and edge cases without the requirement of running the entire application. It is incrementally adoptable and integrates with industry-standard tools.
5 Benefits of Using Storybook
Many front-end developers are now turning to Storybook for its wide range of benefits. But each organization will still need to plan the requirements of their project before using Storybook for their unique needs.
Here are some of its benefits:
Offers more durable UI components
Storybook lets developers quickly develop components in isolation and pages and track their use cases as stories. Verify hard-to-reach edge cases of UI. Use add-ons to mock everything a component needs—context, API requests, device features, etc.
Test UIs with less effort and no flakes
Easily documents UI components for your team to reuse
Storybook is the single source of truth for your UI. Stories index all your components and their various states, making it easy for your frontend developers to find and reuse existing UI patterns across multiple stories. Storybook also auto-generates documentation from those stories.
Shows how the UI works
Stories show how UIs actually work, not just a picture of how they’re supposed to work. That keeps everyone aligned on what’s currently in production. Publish Storybook to get sign-off from teammates. Or, you can embed them in Wikis, Markdown, and Figma to streamline collaboration.
Automate UI development workflows
Storybook is compatible with your continuous integration workflow. Add it as a CI step to automate user interface testing, review implementation with teammates, and get signoff from stakeholders.
4 Drawbacks of Using Storybook
Despite having a wide range of advantages, Storybook also has some drawbacks that developers should consider before using it.
Below are the limitations of creating projects using Storybook:
Lengthy initial setup
Initializing Storybook for a project can be time-consuming, especially for large and complex projects. It can be difficult to understand how everything fits together, and it needs time, focus, and effort to get the configuration just right.
While Storybook can integrate with many front-end frameworks and libraries, it may not be compatible with all tools and systems. If you are using a library or other frameworks that aren’t supported by Storybook, then you may have to look for an alternative.
Several resource requirements
Running Storybook can be resource-intensive, especially for large projects, and may require additional resources to maintain optimal performance. Additionally, making changes to components can take longer than expected due to the amount of work needed.
Adds another layer of complexity
While Storybook provides many benefits, it can also add another layer of complexity to the UI development process. It may be challenging to ensure that the components developed in Storybook match the behavior of the components in the final application.
How Storybook Helps Designers & Developers
The crux of the problem is that designers and developers use different tools. You end up having to pass information back and forth manually. And if something goes wrong, it can get complicated. Fortunately, Storybook solves this by providing a single source of truth about the design systems and UI—designers and developers both get to see the same thing.
With reusable components, developers and designers have a shared construct. Teams decompose a page into its constituent elements and create variations of each component to accommodate different UI states.
Developers use Storybook to develop UI components and capture their states as stories. In contrast, designers model these states as component variants in Figma. Storybook connects the two, making hand-offs much smoother.
The process starts with designers assembling a grid of variants, often referred to as a sticker sheet.
As a developer, your goal is to ensure that the coded UI matches the original design. Having designs and live UI side-by-side makes it much easier to build to spec.
Storybook’s Design Addon enables you to embed Figma files right into Storybook itself.
These are live files that you can inspect. If the designer pushes any changes, you’ll see them right away.
Similarly, the Storybook Connect plugin will allow designers to embed live stories within Figma. This makes it easier for them to update the designs to match what’s live in production.
How to Install Storybook and Write Stories
Use the Storybook CLI to install it in a single command. Run this inside your existing project’s root directory:
npx storybook@latest init
Note: storybook init is not made for empty projects. It needs to be installed into a project that is already set up with a framework so that it will work.
Depending on your framework, first, build your app and then check that everything works by running:
npm run storybook
It will start Storybook locally and output the address. Depending on your system configuration, it will automatically open the address in a new browser tab, and you’ll be greeted by a welcome screen.
To kick things off, go ahead and create a “stories” directory within your components folder. You can also check out the installation guides for Create React App and Storybook installation guides for more info.
default export that contains:
- component – the component itself
- title – how to group or categorize the component in the Storybook sidebar
- tags – to automatically generate documentation for our components
- excludeStories- additional information required by the story but should not be rendered in Storybook
- argTypes – specify the args behavior in each story
Catch accessibility issues
Accessibility tests refer to the practice of auditing the rendered DOM with automated tools against a set of heuristics based on WCAG rules and other industry-accepted best practices. They act as the first line of QA to catch blatant accessibility violations ensuring that an application is usable for as many people as possible, including people with disabilities such as vision impairment, hearing problems, and cognitive conditions.
Storybook includes an official accessibility addon.
Run the following command to install the addon:
yarn add –dev @storybook/addon-a11y
Then, update your Storybook configuration file to enable it:
Automate tests with the test runner
With Storybook’s play function, we were able to sidestep our problem, allowing us to interact with our UI and quickly check how it responds if we update our tasks—keeping the UI consistent with no extra manual effort.
Run the following command to install it:
yarn add –dev @storybook/test-runner
Next, update your package.json scripts and add a new test task:
Finally, with your Storybook running, open up a new terminal window and run the following command:
yarn test-storybook –watch
Integrations / Addons
Storybook provides a wide range of add-ons that can be used to extend its functionality and improve the testing and debugging process. For example, the “storybook-addon-jest” add-on allows developers to run Jest tests within Storybook, and the “storybook-addon-chromatic” add-on allows developers to test the components in different environments and devices.
Check here the popular addons and a guide on how to install them.
Publish Storybook to a shared workspace for sign-off
Before you ship, you’ll want to invite designers to review the UI to ensure it’s correct and get that sweet “LGTM—Ship it!” comment. GitHub acts as a cloud-based workspace where assigned reviewers can leave comments and approve Pull Requests for your code. Chromatic, by the Storybook team, offers a similar service but for your UI. It helps you gather UI feedback by publishing your Storybook.
Chromatic integrates into your CI pipeline. It automatically publishes your Storybook when a Pull Request is created. You can then assign reviewers who can comment and request tweaks on changes that aren’t quite right. Think of it as a code review but for your UI.
When reviewing development with designers, publish your Storybook to a shared workspace like Chromatic. That gives your team an up-to-date reference point where they can leave comments, get feedback, and assign reviewers.
Storybook is a powerful tool for React, React Native, Vue, Angular, Svelte, and many other frameworks. It has a thriving developer community and a wealth of add-ons. This introduction scratches the surface of what’s possible and how productive it is to build durable UIs. Providing a centralized environment for developing and testing UI components, Storybook streamlines the development process, reducing the time and effort needed to develop high-quality components.
Dive deeper into their helpful resources:
- Official Storybook documentation has API documentation, community links, and the addon gallery.
- UI Testing Playbook highlights workflow best practices used by high-velocity teams at Twilio, Adobe, Peloton, and Shopify.
- Visual Testing Handbook, a free 31-page ebook, dives deep into using Storybook to test components visually.
Need to Hire UI/UX Designers for Your Project?
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