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Developer Challenge: Can You Recreate this Web Component?by@michaelsalim
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Developer Challenge: Can You Recreate this Web Component?

by Michael SalimJanuary 21st, 2022
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This is a pagination component from GitHub. It needs to be able to navigate to first and last pages easily. It also needs to handle any number of pages. GitHub doesn't show dots between 1 and 3 above, but they show pages 1 to 7. This is where it starts to get tricky because of the size of the page size. It's definitely not an ordeal, but it probably took me a good hour when I originally estimated to finish this within a few minutes. I hope this is detailed enough to make you wish you had these on *$DAY_JOB*!
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Here's the challenge:

Re-create this pagination component from GitHub


Some problems look hard but turn out to be easy. Then you look at one that seems easy but it turns out to be a hard problem. This is one of the latter.

It's definitely not an ordeal, but it probably took me a good hour when I originally estimated to finish this within a few minutes.


Now, before you say "This is easy! You're just a bad programmer", I encourage you to try to recreate it!


Go to this page and scroll to the very bottom for reference. Make sure you test various scenarios.

Here's some:


  • Go to the first page

  • Last page

  • In the middle of the page

  • At page 2-6

  • When there are not many pages (Eg: A total of 10 pages)

  • On lower screen resolution (mobile)


Need more time? Don't worry I'll wait.

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Ok, let's explore the requirements. I hope this is detailed enough to make you wish you had these on $DAY_JOB!

Exploring the Requirements

There are 2 crucial points for this component:

  • Able to navigate to first and the last page

  • Able to navigate to the adjacent pages easily


On its own, it's not a big deal. But once you account for responsive design, it's not as straightforward.


So let's divide it per screen size.

1. Mobile

When we don't have enough space to put anything, GitHub simply shows 2 buttons.

Simple, let's move on to the next size.

2. Tablet

Here's where it starts to get tricky.

When you're on the first page, show the first and the last page - along with the "Previous" and "Next" button.

But if we're on a different page then we'll want to indicate that.

What if we're somewhere in the middle? Notice the difference? GitHub doesn't show dots between 1 and 3 above. However, they show dots between 1 and 7.

3. Desktop

Starting from the first page:

Notice that the first five pages and the last two are shown


Let's try page 5:

Page 1 to 7 is now shown. That makes sense because the 2 pages around our current page seems to be shown.

Combining the fact that the first five pages are shown, this adds up.

Sure enough, we follow the same trend.


Now, let's move to page 7.

As expected, now we've lost pages 3-4. Page 5-9 is shown because we're on page 7.


Some things not mentioned:


  • Previous and Next button becomes disabled when no page to paginate.

  • It needs to handle any number of pages.


Here are 2 additional cases to refer to:

Tablet Size


Desktop Size



Didn't expect that many requirements did ya? Maybe you did — I for sure didn't.


So why did this take me much longer than expected to make?

1. Unclear Scope

If you tried to re-create this component without looking at the requirements I laid out, you might be surprised at how many cases there are to handle.


The unclear scope is a big issue that leads to a mismatch in development time and expectation. Most of you probably had an experience of being asked "How long do you think this will take?".


And if you've experienced enough of those, you'll know to estimate a number and multiply that by at least 1.5. So for a feature that you think might take a week, you'll say one and a half week — Maybe even two!


The more detailed a piece of work is, the better you'll be able to estimate. A vague task like "Re-create X feature" is bound to go beyond your estimate no matter how simple it is.

2. The number of different cases to handle

"Less is better" — Somebody


When I started on this component, my mindset was to create the component with as few parts as possible. Many developers like to shorten and use "smart" ways to code as they get better at programming.


This can be syntactic sugar, clever tricks or little-known facts of a certain language. If you know Functional Programming, you know what I mean!


At some point in my career, I did similarly. I had fun figuring out how to write something clever. But that often increases the complexity of your code.


Most importantly, less !== better.


Simple is better. And less oftentimes does not equal to simple.


Source: Twitter


Some of you might be tempted to create a single elegant function to handle all the cases. In this example, however, it might be much simpler and readable to handle each case on its own <i>if</i> statement.


Although if you manage to solve this problem elegantly, let me know through e-mail or twitter! I'd love to see it.

End result

I originally set out to do this for Recall's task explorer page. Here's how it looks in the end. Not too bad!

Pagination component demo on https://recalllab.com


Final thought: This component might be a good test for a technical interview.

What do you think?