HowTo Components – howto-checkbox


A <howto-checkbox> represents a boolean option in a form. The most common type of checkbox is a dual-type which allows the user to toggle between two choices -- checked and unchecked.

The element attempts to self apply the attributes role="checkbox" and tabindex="0" when it is first created. The role attribute helps assistive technology like a screen reader tell the user what kind of control this is. The tabindex attribute opts the element into the tab order, making it keyboard focusable and operable. To learn more about these two topics, check out What can ARIA do? and Using tabindex.

When the checkbox is checked, it adds a checked boolean attribute, and sets a corresponding checked property to true. In addition, the element sets an aria-checked attribute to either "true" or "false", depending on its state. Clicking on the checkbox with a mouse, or space bar, toggles these checked states.

The checkbox also supports a disabled state. If either the disabled property is set to true or the disabled attribute is applied, the checkbox sets aria-disabled="true", removes the tabindex attribute, and returns focus to the document if the checkbox is the current activeElement.

The checkbox is paired with a howto-label element to ensure it has an accessible name.



View live demo on GitHub

Example usage

  howto-checkbox {
    vertical-align: middle;
  howto-label {
    vertical-align: middle;
    display: inline-block;
    font-weight: bold;
    font-family: sans-serif;
    font-size: 20px;
    margin-left: 8px;

<howto-checkbox id="join-checkbox"></howto-checkbox>
<howto-label for="join-checkbox">Join Newsletter</howto-label>


(function() {

Define key codes to help with handling keyboard events.

  const KEYCODE = {
    SPACE: 32,

Cloning contents from a <template> element is more performant than using innerHTML because it avoids additional HTML parse costs.

  const template = document.createElement('template');

  template.innerHTML = `
      :host {
        display: inline-block;
        background: url('../images/unchecked-checkbox.svg') no-repeat;
        background-size: contain;
        width: 24px;
        height: 24px;
      :host([hidden]) {
        display: none;
      :host([checked]) {
        background: url('../images/checked-checkbox.svg') no-repeat;
        background-size: contain;
      :host([disabled]) {
          url('../images/unchecked-checkbox-disabled.svg') no-repeat;
        background-size: contain;
      :host([checked][disabled]) {
          url('../images/checked-checkbox-disabled.svg') no-repeat;
        background-size: contain;

  class HowToCheckbox extends HTMLElement {
    static get observedAttributes() {
      return ['checked', 'disabled'];

The element's constructor is run anytime a new instance is created. Instances are created either by parsing HTML, calling document.createElement('howto-checkbox'), or calling new HowToCheckbox(); The constructor is a good place to create shadow DOM, though you should avoid touching any attributes or light DOM children as they may not be available yet.

    constructor() {
      this.attachShadow({mode: 'open'});

connectedCallback() fires when the element is inserted into the DOM. It's a good place to set the initial role, tabindex, internal state, and install event listeners.

    connectedCallback() {
      if (!this.hasAttribute('role'))
        this.setAttribute('role', 'checkbox');
      if (!this.hasAttribute('tabindex'))
        this.setAttribute('tabindex', 0);

A user may set a property on an instance of an element, before its prototype has been connected to this class. The _upgradeProperty() method will check for any instance properties and run them through the proper class setters. See the lazy properties section for more details.


      this.addEventListener('keyup', this._onKeyUp);
      this.addEventListener('click', this._onClick);

    _upgradeProperty(prop) {
      if (this.hasOwnProperty(prop)) {
        let value = this[prop];
        delete this[prop];
        this[prop] = value;

disconnectedCallback() fires when the element is removed from the DOM. It's a good place to do clean up work like releasing references and removing event listeners.

    disconnectedCallback() {
      this.removeEventListener('keyup', this._onKeyUp);
      this.removeEventListener('click', this._onClick);

Properties and their corresponding attributes should mirror one another. The property setter for checked handles truthy/falsy values and reflects those to the state of the attribute. See the avoid reentrancy section for more details.

    set checked(value) {
      const isChecked = Boolean(value);
      if (isChecked)
        this.setAttribute('checked', '');

    get checked() {
      return this.hasAttribute('checked');

    set disabled(value) {
      const isDisabled = Boolean(value);
      if (isDisabled)
        this.setAttribute('disabled', '');

    get disabled() {
      return this.hasAttribute('disabled');

attributeChangedCallback() is called when any of the attributes in the observedAttributes array are changed. It's a good place to handle side effects, like setting ARIA attributes.

    attributeChangedCallback(name, oldValue, newValue) {
      const hasValue = newValue !== null;
      switch (name) {
        case 'checked':
          this.setAttribute('aria-checked', hasValue);
        case 'disabled':
          this.setAttribute('aria-disabled', hasValue);

The tabindex attribute does not provide a way to fully remove focusability from an element. Elements with tabindex=-1 can still be focused with a mouse or by calling focus(). To make sure an element is disabled and not focusable, remove the tabindex attribute.

          if (hasValue) {

If the focus is currently on this element, unfocus it by calling the HTMLElement.blur() method

          } else {
            this.setAttribute('tabindex', '0');

    _onKeyUp(event) {

Don’t handle modifier shortcuts typically used by assistive technology.

      if (event.altKey)

      switch (event.keyCode) {
        case KEYCODE.SPACE:

Any other key press is ignored and passed back to the browser.


    _onClick(event) {

_toggleChecked() calls the checked setter and flips its state. Because _toggleChecked() is only caused by a user action, it will also dispatch a change event. This event bubbles in order to mimic the native behavior of <input type=checkbox>.

    _toggleChecked() {
      if (this.disabled)
      this.checked = !this.checked;
      this.dispatchEvent(new CustomEvent('change', {
        detail: {
          checked: this.checked,
        bubbles: true,

  customElements.define('howto-checkbox', HowToCheckbox);