Building a carousel from scratch using Vue.js

Instead of going through a complex third-party library docs, I tried to figure out how to build a "multi-card" carousel from scratch.

For the final code, check my GitHub repo.

If you want to see a real-world example, I used the logic of this approach (inspired by a Thin Tran's tutorial) in one of my recent projects:

1. Understanding the structure

This is the underling structure of the demo above:

But let's see how it actually works:

Though in this .gif every step has an animated transition, this is just to make it easier to visualize all 4 steps:

  1. Translate the .inner wrapper.
  2. Extract the first item.
  3. Paste it to the tail.
  4. Move .inner back to its original position.

In the actual implementation, only step #1 will be animated. The others will happen instantly. This is what give us the impression of an infinite/continuous navigation loop. Can't you see it? Stick with me ๐Ÿ˜‰

Note: there's currently a bug regarding embedded code blocks in DEV ๐Ÿž If the code sample doesn't match its explanation, try reloading the page or read it here. I promise it'll pay off.

2. Building the carousel structure

Let's start with this basic component:

This is exactly the structure from section 1. The .carousel container is the frame within which the cards will move.

3. Adding styles


  • Line 5: With a fixed width we are sure new items will be appended outside of the carousel's visible area. But if you have enough cards, you can make it as width as you want.
  • Line 6: Using the property overflow: hidden; will allow us to crop those elements that go outside of .carousel.
  • Line 10: Prevents inline-block elements (or inline-flex, in our case) from wrapping once the parent space has been filled. See white-space.

Expected result:

4. Translating the .inner wrapper (step 1)


  • Line 22: The $refs property let you access your template refs. scrollWith give us the width of an element, even if it's partially hidden due to overflow.
  • Line 24: This will dynamically set our carousel "step", which is the distance we need to translate our .inner element every time the "next" or "prev" buttons are pressed. Having this, you don't even need to specify the width of your .card elements (as long as they're all the same size).
  • Line 27-35: To move the cards we'll be translating the whole .inner wrapper, manipulating its transform property.
  • Line 44: transform is the property we want to animate.

Expected result:

5. Shifting the cards[] array (steps 2 and 3)


  • Line 7: afterTransition() takes a callback as an argument that's going to be executed after a transition in .inner occurs.
  • Line 8: The Array.prototype.shift() method take the first element out of the array and returns it.
  • Line 9: The Array.prototype.push() method inserts an element to the end of the array.
  • Line 14-17: We define the event listener callback: listener(). It will call our actual callback and then remove itself when executed.
  • Line 18: We add the event listener.

I encourage you to implement the prev() method. Hint: check this MDN entry on Array operations.

6. Moving .inner back to its original position (step 4)


  • Line 9: It resets .inner's position after shifting the cards[] array, counteracting the additional translation caused by the latter.
  • Line 17: We set transition to none so the reset happens instantly.

Expected result:

7. Final tunings

At this point, our carousel just works. But there are a few bugs:

  • Bug 1: Calling next() too often results in non-transitioned navigation. Same for prev().

We need to find a way to disable those methods during the CSS transitions. We'll be using a data property transitioning to track this state.

  • Bug 2: Unlike what happens with next(), when we call prev() the previous card doesn't slide-in. It just appears instantly.

If you watched carefully, our current implementation still differs from the structure proposed at the beginning of this tutorial. In the former the .inner's left side and the .carousel's left side aligns. In the latter the .inner's left side starts outside the .carousel's boundaries: the difference is the space that occupies a single card.

So let's keep our .inner always translated one step to the left.


  • Lines 12 and 19: Every time we execute moveRight() or moveLeft() we are reseting all the transform values for .inner. Therefore it becomes necessary to add that additional translateX(-${this.step}), which is the position we want all other transformations occur from.

8. Conclusion

And that's it. What a trip, huh? ๐Ÿ˜… No wonder why this is a common question in technical interviews. But now you know how to โ€•or another way toโ€• build your own "multi-card" carousel.

Again, here is the full code. I hope you found it useful, and feel free to share your thoughts/improvements in the comments.

Thanks for reading!