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Backbone-Require-Boilerplate (BRB)

A Backbone.js and Require.js Boilerplate that promotes decoupling your JavaScript into modules, separating business logic from application logic using Collections/Models and Views, reusing your JavaScript between Desktop and Mobile Web versions while using a mobile framework (jQuery Mobile), including non-AMD Compatible Third Party Scripts in your project, optimizing all of your JavaScript (minify, concatenate, etc), and unit testing your JavaScript.

Backbone Logo RequireJS Logo


Getting Started

  1. Download and install Node.js
  2. Clone this repository using Git: git clone
  3. On the command line, type npm install nodemon -g to install the nodemon library globally. If it complains about user permissions type sudo npm install nodemon -g.
  4. If you have installed Grunt globally in the past, you will need to remove it first by typing npm uninstall -g grunt. If it complains about user permissions, type sudo npm uninstall -g grunt.
  5. Next, install the latest version of Grunt by typing npm install -g grunt-cli. If it complains about user permissions, type sudo npm install -g grunt-cli.
  6. Navigate to inside of the Backbone-Require-Boilerplate folder and type npm install
  7. Next, type nodemon (this will start your Node.js web server and restart the server any time you make a file change thanks to the wonderful nodemon library)
  8. To view the demo page, go to http://localhost:8001
  9. To view the Jasmine test suite page, go to http://localhost:8001/specRunner.html
  10. To view the Plato complexity report, go to http://localhost:8001/reports/
  11. Enjoy using Backbone, Lodash, Require.js, AMDClean.js, jQuery, jQueryUI, jQuery Mobile, Twitter Bootstrap, Jasmine, and Grunt (enjoyment optional)

Tour of the Boilerplate Files


HTML5 Boilerplate

Uses a large portion of the HTML5 Boilerplate HTML and CSS.


As you continue down the page to the first <script> tag, you will notice there is a local JavaScript variable, called production, that is used to communicate to your application whether you would like to load production or development CSS and JavaScript files.

BoilerplateMVC Helper Methods

To load our production/development CSS and JavaScript files, you can use the handy BoilerplateMVC helper methods included directly in our HTML page. Below are the available helper methods:

loadCSS(url, callback) - Asynchronously includes a CSS file to a page

loadJS(file, callback) - Asynchronously includes a JavaScript file to the page

loadFiles(production, obj, callback) - Calls the loadCSS() and loadJS() methods internally to asynchronously include our CSS and JavaScript files

Note: Require.js does not officially support loading CSS files, which is why we included the loadCSS() method to asynchronously include our CSS files.

Loading files asynchronously prevents our application files from blocking the loading of the UI and allows us the flexibilty to load different CSS/JavaScript files if a user is on a mobile/desktop device.

Since the Desktop/Mobile versions of the boilerplate point Require.js to two different files, including Require.js asynchronously with the loadJS method provides the flexibility to do that.

Mobile Detection Script

There is a simple JavaScript mobile browser detection script that stores different production/development CSS and JavaScript files within a local config object based on whether a user is using a mobile or desktop browser.

You do not need to use the provided JavaScript mobile detection script for your application. We provided it for convenience so that you could see an example of how to separate your Mobile and Desktop JavaScript logic using Require.js.

Production Mode

In production mode, your app's single minified and concatenated JavaScript file is loaded without Require.js using AMDClean.js. Your application's minfied common CSS file is also included.

Development Mode

In development mode, your app's non-minified JavaScript files are loaded using Require.js instead of AMDClean.js. Your application's non-minified common CSS file is also included.


This file includes your mobile AND desktop Require.js configurations.

If we look at our App's Require.js configurations, we will see the first thing being configured are the module paths. Setting paths allow you to define an alias name and file path for any module that you like.

Typically, you want to set a path for any module that will be listed as a dependency in more than one other module (eq. jQuery, Backbone). This saves you some typing, since you just have to list the alias name, and not the entire file path, when listing dependencies. After all of the file paths are set, you will find the Shim configuration (Added in Require.js 2.0).

The Shim configuration allows you to easily include non-AMD compatible JavaScript files with Require.js (a separate library such as Use.js was previously needed for this). This is very important, because Backbone versions > 0.5.3 no longer support AMD (meaning you will get an error if you try to use both Require.js and the latest version of Backbone). This configuration is a much better solution than manually editing non-AMD compatible JavaScript files to make sure the code is wrapped in a define method. Require.js creator James Burke previously maintained AMD compatible forks of both Backbone.js and Underscore.js because of this exact reason.

   shim: {

      // Backbone
      "backbone": {

         // Depends on underscore/lodash and jQuery
         "deps": ["underscore", "jquery"],

         // Exports the global window.Backbone object
         "exports": "Backbone"



The Shim configuration also takes the place for the old Require.js order plugin. Within the Shim configuration, you can list files and their dependency tree. An example is jQuery plugins being dependent on jQuery:

   shim: {

      // Twitter Bootstrap plugins depend on jQuery
      "bootstrap": ["jquery"]


You do not need a shim configuration for jQuery or lodash because they do not have any dependencies.


MobileInit.js is only used if a mobile browser is detected.

The require method is used to asynchronously include all of the files/dependencies passed into the first parameter (jQuery, Backbone, Lodash, mobileRouter, etc) into the page.

After all of those files are included on the page, two internal jQuery Mobile properties are turned off to allow Backbone.js to handle all of the routing.

   // Prevents all anchor click handling
   $.mobile.linkBindingEnabled = false;

   // Disabling this will prevent jQuery Mobile from handling hash changes
   $.mobile.hashListeningEnabled = false;

Finally, a new router instance is instantiated to allow you to use Backbone's routing mechanism (keep reading below for more clarification).

You don't need to instantiate a new router instance if you aren't using a Backbone Router class.


DesktopInit.js is only used if a desktop browser is detected.

This file is the exact same as MobileInit.js, except it has a few different dependencies (Twitter Bootstrap instead of jQuery Mobile, etc)


MobileRouter.js is where you can include mobile specific scripts that you do not want included in your desktop application. This file starts with a define method that lists jquery, backbone, and View.js as dependencies. Keep in mind that jQuery and Backbone had already been previously loaded in mobile.js, but Require.js is smart enough not to load dependencies more than once.

It is best practice to list out all of your dependencies for every file, regardless of whether or not they expose global objects and are already included in the page. This is also especially important for the Require.js optimizer (which needs to determine which files depend on which other files).

If your dependencies do not expose global objects, then it is absolutely mandatory to list it as a dependency, since Require.js does not allow global variables (meaning your modules are private and cannot be accessed by other modules or code without explicitly listing them as dependencies).

The rest of the file is a pretty standard Backbone.js Router class:

There is currently only one route listed (which gets called if there is no hash tag on the url), but feel free to create more for your application.

You must keep the Backbone.history.start() method call, since this is what triggers Backbone to start reacting to hashchange events.

When your default route is invoked, a new View instance is created, which calls the render method immediately to append the header template to the page.


DesktopRouter.js has the exact same code as MobileRouter.js. The difference is this is where you can include desktop specific scripts that you do not want included in your mobile web application.


View.js will be used by both the mobile and desktop versions of your application. It starts with a define method that lists all of its dependencies.

The rest of the file is a pretty standard Backbone.js View class:

Backbone.js View's have a one-to-one relationship with DOM elements, and a View's DOM element is listed in the el property. After the el property is set, the View's model attribute is set to a new instance of the Model returned by Model.js (which was listed at the top as a dependency). Next, the View's render method is called within the View's constructor, aka initialize() method, and the View's template property is set and appended to the page using the Underscore.js template method ported to Lodash.

If you have read all of the documentation up until this point, you will most likely have already noticed that lodash is being used instead of Underscore.js. Apart from having a bit better cross-browser performance and stability than Underscore.js, lodash also provides a custom build process. Although I have provided a version of lodash that has all of the Underscore.js methods you would expect, you can download a custom build and swap that in. Also, it doesn't hurt that Lodash creator, John-David Dalton, is an absolute performance and API consistency maniac =)

Next, you will find an events object. Here is where all of your View DOM event handlers associated with the HTML element referenced by your View's el property should be stored. Keep in mind that Backbone is using the jQuery delegate method, so it expects a selector that is within your View's el property. I did not include any events by default, so you will have to fill those in yourself. Below is an example of having an events object with one event handler that calls a View's someMethod() method when an element with a class name of someElement is clicked.

   // View Event Handlers
   events: {
      "click .someElement": "someMethod"

I am also declaring a render method within the View. Backbone expects you to override the render method with your own functionality, so that is what I did. All my render method does is append the View's template to the page.

You do not need to use Underscore.js templates. In fact, you don't need to use templates at all. I just included them so you would understand how to use them.

Finally, I am returning the View class.


This file includes a template that is included via the Require.js text plugin. Templates are typically a useful way for you to update your View (the DOM) if a Model attribute changes. They are also useful when you have a lot of HTML and JavaScript that you need to fit together, and instead of concatenating HTML strings inside of your JavaScript, templates provide a cleaner solution. Look at Underscore's documentation to read more about the syntax of Underscore.js templates.


Model.js is used by both the mobile and desktop versions of your application. It starts with a define method that lists jquery and backbone as dependencies.

The rest of the file is a pretty standard Backbone.js Model class.

Like other Backbone.js classes, there is an initialize() method that acts as the Model's constructor function. There is also a defaults object that allows you to set default Model properties if you wish.

Finally, The Backbone.js validate method is provided for you. This method is called any time an attribute of the model is set. Keep in mind that all model attributes will be validated (once set), even if a different model attribute is being set/validated. This does not make much sense to me, so if you prefer only the Model attributes that are currently being saved/set to be validated, then use the validateAll option provided by Backbone.validateAll.

Finally, a new Model class is returned.


Collection.js is used by both the mobile and desktop versions of your application. It starts with a define method that lists jquery, backbone, and UserModel.js as dependencies.

The rest of the file is a pretty standard Backbone.js Collection class that is used to store all of your Backbone Models. The Collection model property is set to indicate that all Models that will be within this Collection class will be of type Model (the dependency that is passed into the file).

Finally, a new Collection class is returned.


This file is ready made for you to have your entire project optimized using Grunt.js, the Require.js Optimizer and AMDClean.js.

Grunt.js is a JavaScript command line task runner that allows you to easily automate common development tasks such as code linting, minification, and unit testing.

Running the Jasmine Tasks with Grunt has not been implemented yet.

AMDClean.js a build tool, created by Greg Franko, that converts AMD code to standard JavaScript. AMDClean is meant for small to medium sized projects that use one concatenated/minified JavaScript file. If you don't need some of the advanced features that Require.js provides (lazy loading, etc) then AMDClean.js will greatly reduces your applications file size.

Backbone-Require-Boilerplate sets you up to use Require.js in development and AMDClean.js in production. By default, Backbone-Require-Boilerplate is in development mode, so if you want to try out the production build, read the production instructions below.

Production Build Instructions

Navigate to the root directory of the Backbone-Require-Boilerplate folder and type grunt and wait a few seconds for the build to complete.

If you are on a Windows machine, you will have to type grunt.cmd

Once the script has finished, you will see that both DesktopInit.min.js and MobileInit.min.js, and the mobile.min.css and desktop.min.css files will be created/updated.

Next, update the production local variable inside of index.html to be true.

And that's it! If you have any questions just create in an issue on Github.


This file is the starting point to your Jasmine test suite and outputs the results of your Jasmine tests.


This file contains all of your Jasmine unit tests. Only seven tests are provided, with unit tests provided for Views, Models, Collections, and Routers (Mobile and Desktop). I'd write more, but why spoil your fun? Read through the tests and use them as examples to write your own.

The entire file is wrapped in an AMD define method, with all external module (file) dependencies listed. The Jasmine tests should be self explanatory (BDD tests are supposed to describe an app's functionality and make sense to non-techy folk as well), but if you have any questions, just file an issue and I'll respond as quickly as I can.


What libraries have you included?

  • Backbone, Require, Grunt, Lodash, AMDClean, jQuery, jQueryUI, jQuery Mobile, Twitter Bootstrap, and Jasmine (w/the jasmine-jquery plugin)

What Require.js plugins are you using?

  • Just the Require.js text plugin, since it provides an easy way to keep templates in their own folders (instead of just embedding them in your html files). I was previously using Use.js to load non-AMD compatible scripts, but Require.js 2.0 now provides this functionality.

Why are you not using the Require.js Internationalization plugin?

  • I found that when I built using the Require.js Optimizer, only one lang-locale could be included per optimized file. That would mean, that if you had to support 10 different langs/locales, you would need 20 different optimized builds (Desktop and Mobile). If I am mistaken about this, please let me know, and I will update the Boilerplate with the Internationalization plugin. A solution for including localized text is in the roadmap and will be included in a future release of the project.

Why are you using Grunt for the build?

  • Grunt comes jam packed with features and plugins to help improve project automation tasks. Although the main job of Grunt (within Backbone-Require-Boilerplate) is to run the Require.js optimizer, it is also for other tasks such as JSHinting your code.

What Grunt plugins are you using?

  • The boilerplate uses the grunt-contrib-requirejs plugin to run the Require.js optimizer and the grunt-contrib-jshint plugin to automate JSHint code quality checking. Both plugins are maintained by the core Grunt team.

What Grunt tasks can I use?

  • The boilerplate provides test, build, and default tasks.

  • The test task will only JSHint your code for quality. You can run the test task by typing grunt test.

  • The build task will concatenate and minify your Desktop/Mobile JavaScript and CSS files using the Require.js optimizer. You can run the build task by typing grunt build.

  • The default task will run both the test and build tasks. You can run the default task by typing grunt.

Why are you using the @import tag to include CSS files within desktop.css and mobile.css?

  • When creating production builds, Require.js inlines all of the CSS files included via @import tags. This means that we can easily include all of our CSS files within one file and not have any performance concerns when our app get's released to the production. In development mode, we aren't as concerned with performance.

Do I have to manage different Require.js configuration settings for the Grunt build, Jasmine tests, and Mobile/Desktop applications?

  • No! All of the Require.js configurations are in one place (config.js) and are reused in the different portions of our app that require it.

Do I have to use everything the boilerplate gives me?

-No! Feel free to update the boilerplate to fit the needs of your application. Certain things that you might not want/need include templates, mobile and desktop versions, jQuery Mobile, etc. Also check out other boilerplate projects within the BoilerplateMVC project that may fit your needs better (i.e. BRB Lite).

Do I need a web server to test the boilerplate?

-Yep, because the Require.js text plugin dynamically pulls in template files via ajax (which is not allowed with the File:// local extension. Luckily for you I have provided an easy to use Node.js web server for convenience.

Why did you not include a package manager such as Bower, Volo, or Jam?

-I ultimately decided against including a package manager. I agree that using a package manager for this boilerplate is the ultimate solution, but the JS package management space is in a state of flux. A browser package management solution has not been adopted by the community yet. Obviously, this may change.

Can I contribute to this project?

-Please do! I am learning just like you. If you want to contribute, please send pull requests to the dev branch.

Change Log

1.7.0 - January 26, 2014

  • Replaced Almond.js with AMDClean.js.
  • Added Plato code complexity support
  • Updated to Twitter Bootstrap 3, jQuery Mobile 1.4, Require.js 2.1.10, Backbone.js 1.1.0, and Lodash 2.4.1

1.6.0 - May 22, 2013

  • Changed Require configuration in both config.js and Gruntfile.js to use baseUrl: 'js/app' instead of baseUrl: 'js'.
  • This eliminates the need to create shortcuts to folders in app directory, and aligns BRB more properly with MRB.

1.5.0 - April 17, 2013

  • All Require.js configurations are now stored in one place (config.js) instead of three. This removes the pain of managing different desktop, mobile, and jasmine configurations. You can see the improved logic inside of index.html, specRunner.html, and the Grunt build.
  • The Jasmine Test Runner logic was simplified by removing testInit.js and all shim configuration settings for Jasmine. The Jasmine library is now being included directly before Require.js, which guarantees that it will be on the page before any specs are run.

1.4.0 - April 6, 2013

A huge thank you to Nick Pack for helping to implement Grunt in this release

  • Added Grunt.js support run the Require.js optimization build.
  • Updated the loadJS() and loadCSS() methods and removed the HTML5 DOMContentLoaded event
  • Updated all libraries to the latest versions.

1.3.0 - December 31, 2012

  • Updated the loadCSS() method to now support an array of arguments

  • Removed the loadRequireJS() method

  • Added the loadJS() method (supports an array of arguments)

  • Added a new production local variable inside of index.html to easily turn on and off production/development mode

  • Production mode no longer includes Require.js (This was accidentally being included along with Almond.js) #14

  • The common CSS file is now being included after all libraries/application files have been loaded. This allows you to easily override 3rd party CSS rules (Bootstrap, jQuery Mobile, etc) #14

1.2.0 - December 1, 2012

Special thanks to Mark Simon - This release would not have happened without him

  • Added jQuery Mobile support

  • Added jQueryUI support

  • Upgraded all libs to their latest versions

  • Included a Node.js server for convenience in testing BRB

  • Removed the add/remove users example and reverted this project back to just a boilerplate

  • Added Desktop and Mobile Router Jasmine tests

  • Added the Require.js text plugin back in (since I now figured out how to use it with Jasmine)

1.1.0 - October 19, 2012

  • Upgraded to Require.js 2.1.1

  • Upgraded to r.js 2.1.1

  • Upgraded to almond.js 0.2.0

  • Upgraded to Lodash 0.8.2

  • Upgraded to jQuery 1.8.2

1.0.0 - September 19, 2012

  • Added Almond.js to the production build process.

Thanks to James Burke for helping with the updated build script!

0.9.0 - September 2, 2012

  • Complete rewrite of the Boilerplate example. The example now illustrates how to make a simple add/remove user table with Backbone Collections, Models, and Views.

  • Upgraded to Lodash 0.6.1

  • Upgraded to jQuery 1.8.1

  • Added Backbone.validateAll

0.8.0 - August 22, 2012

  • Added Project Nickname: BRB - Seriously how did I not see that before.

  • Added Jasmine Unit Tests! Two unit tests were added for both Views and Models.

  • BREAKING CHANGE: The Require.js text plugin was removed, and an inline html template was used instead.

  • Upgraded to Lodash 0.5.2

0.7.0 - August 10, 2012

0.6.0 - June 13, 2012

  • Upgraded to Require.js 2.0.2 and r.js 2.0.2 documentation

  • Upgraded to Lodash 0.3.1

0.5.0 - June 5, 2012

  • All modules now return a class instead of an instance
  • The self variable has been removed from all modules (scoping issue)
  • The Require.js Optimizer build file ( has been simplified by adding a mainConfigFile option that points to the desktop main file. Keep in mind that all of your mobile and desktop shims and paths need to be in desktopInit.js

0.4.0 - June 1, 2012

  • Upgraded to Require.js 2.0.1 and r.js 2.0.1
  • Added anotherView.js to demonstrate how to extend Backbone.js Views/Classes
  • Upgraded model.js to now return a Model instance instead of a Model Class
  • Updated documentation

0.3.0 - June 1, 2012

  • Upgraded to Lodash 0.2.2
  • Removed the Lodash Shim configuration (not needed because Lodash is AMD compatible)
  • Updated documentation

0.2.0 - May 29, 2012

  • Upgraded to Require.js 2.0, text.js 2.0, and r.js 2.0.
  • Removed Use.js because Require.js 2.0 now includes this functionality (using the Shim configuration)
  • Replaced all the minified JavaScript files with unminified/documented JavaScript files (you can minify these files using the Require.js Optimizer script provided)

0.1.0 - May 24, 2012

  • Initial Backbone-Require-Boilerplate release. Added source code and documentation.



Copyright (c) 2012 Greg Franko
Licensed under the MIT license.