backbone.js Getting started with backbone.js Example of Using Backbone (Primarily Backbone.Model)


Backbone.js is made up of four separate components: Collections, Models, Routers, and Views. Each of these serve different purposes:

  • Model - represents a single data object, but adds additional functionalities not provided by native JavaScript objects, such as an event system and a more convenient way to retrieve and send data to a remote server

  • Collection - represents a set or "collection" of Models and provides functionalities to manage its models.

  • View - represents a single part of the user interface; each View wraps an HTML DOM element, and provides structure for working with that element as well as convenience features like simple event binding.

  • Router - enables a "single page application" by allowing an application to trigger different logic (e.g. show different pages) in response to the URL changes.

Create your own flavors

Before we look at how to use each of these components, let's first take a quick look at Backbone's class system. To create a new sub-class of a Backbone class, you simply call the extend method of the original class, and pass it the instance properties and (static) class properties as objects:

const MyModelClass = Backbone.Model.extend({
    instanceMethod: function() { console.log('Instance method!'); },
}, {
    staticMethod: function() { console.log('Static method!'); },

Just as with any other class system, instance methods can be called on instances (objects) of the class, while static methods are called directly on the class itself (the constructor):

var myInstance = new MyModelClass();

// Call an instance method on our instance
myInstance.instanceMethod(); // logs "Instance method!"

// Call a static method on our class
MyModelClass.staticMethod(); // logs "Static method!"

Using a class

Now, let's look at a quick example of how you can use each class. We'll start with a Model of a book.

const Book = Backbone.Model.extend({
    idAttribute: 'isbn',
    urlRoot: '/book'

Let's break down what just happened there. First, we created a Book subclass of Model, and we gave it two instance properties.

  • idAttribute tells Backbone to use the "isbn" attribute of the model as its ID when performing AJAX operations.
  • urlRoot, tells Backbone to look for book data on

Now let's create an instance of a book, and get its data from the server:

var huckleberryFinn = new Book({ isbn: '0486403491' });
    // the Backbone way
    success: (model, response, options) => {
       console.log(model.get('name')); // logs "Huckleberry Finn"
}).done(() => console.log('the jQuery promise way'));

When we created a new Book we passed it an object, and Backbone uses this object as the initial "attributes" (the data) of the Model. Because Backbone knows the idAttribute is isbn, it knows that the URL for our new Book is /book/0486403491. When we tell it to fetch, Backbone will use jQuery to make an AJAX request for the book's data. fetch returns a promise (just like $.ajax), which you can use to trigger actions once the fetch has completed.

Attributes can be accessed or modified by using the get or set methods:

huckleberryFinn.get('numberOfPages'); // returns 64

huckleberryFinn.set('numberOfPages', 1); // changes numberOfPages to 1

Models also have an event system that you can use to react when things happen to a Model. For instance, to log a message whenever the numberOfPages changes, you could do:

huckleberryFinn.on('change:numberOfPages', () => console.log('Page change!'));

For a more detailed introduction to the other Backbone classes, view their individual documentation pages.