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In this tutorial we'll learn how to use Geddy by creating a simple todo manager applciation. We will create two applications one using scaffolding and one using resources. See the finished version.

In this tutorial we'll cover:

  • Creating a Geddy application
  • Learning how to use the Geddy executable
  • Using Geddy models
  • How views in Geddy work
  • How to use controllers to tie everything together


If you haven't already, install Node on your machine.

Next, install Geddy from NPM, this will also install Jake:

$ [sudo] npm install -g geddy

We need to install it globally (-g) so we can use geddy generators or start the server. More on this later. Note: installing packages globally may require super-user access.

Using the Geddy command

Now that we have Geddy installed we need to learn how to use its command from the CLI. There are a few commands and options that help with the development process of creating applications using Geddy. Here we will go over what each of them do. Note if no arguments are given Geddy will start up the server if it's a Geddy application, otherwise it will show the help dialog.


  • --environment, -e: Environment to use
  • --port, -p: Port to connect server to
  • --workers, -w: Number of workers to use (default: 1)
  • --debug, -d: Sets the log level to output debug messages to console
  • --jade, -j: When generating views, use Jade templates(Default: EJS)
  • --handle, -H: When generating views, use Handlebars templates(Default: EJS)
  • --mustache, -m: When generating views, use Mustache templates(Default: EJS)
  • --version, -v: Output the version of Geddy installed
  • --help, -h: Output the list of commands and options


  • app <name>: Create a new Geddy application
  • resource <name> [model attributes]: Create a new Geddy resource. Resources include a model, controller and a route
  • scaffold <name> [model attributes]: Creates a new Geddy scaffolding. Scaffolding includes everything Resources have as well as views
  • secret: Generate a new application secret in `config/environment`
  • controller <name>: Generate a new controller including an index view and a route
  • model <name> [model attributes]: Generate a new model
  • console: opens a console in the context of geddy

How to use Geddy commands

Each of Geddy's commands(app, resource, controller, etc.) take a command or set of commands(excluding secret and console). Here we'll learn how to use those commands.

  • app takes a single argument being the name you'd like, then it will generate a base application. If no name is given the command will fail.
  • secret doesn't take any arguments, it will find your config/environment file and create a new secret in it deleting any other secret.
  • controller takes a single argument being a name. It will create a new controller, a route and an index view. If you also include the options --jade, --handle or --mustache you can substitute the template language to your liking.
  • model takes one or more arguments, the first being a name and the others being a set of model properties. We won't go over model properties right now but you can learn about them in the next section. This will create a new model including the model properties given.
  • resource takes one or more arguments, the first being a name and the others being a set of model properties. This will create a controller, a model including the given model properties and a resource route.
  • scaffold takes one or more arguments, the first being a name and the others being a set of model properties. Scaffolding includes a controller, a model including the given model properties as well as a default model adapter a resource route and will create all views. If you also include the options --jade, --handle or --mustache you can substitute the template language to your liking.
  • console doesn't take any arguments, it will start a geddy console.

Model properties

There are a three commands(resource, model and scaffold) that also include model property arguments. This is a list seperated by spaces that include the property, its type and an optional default setting. Below are some examples of how they are used in the commands.

$ geddy scaffold user name:string

The example above will create our normal scaffolding and include a name property of type string. If no type is given it will default to string.

$ geddy scaffold user name:default

This example creates scaffolding but includes name as the default property that will be used when displaying the content in the views. In this example the property name is given the type string because no type was given, you could of also writte name:string:default, or you could've used a different type of course. The default setting also includes an alias called def. If no default property is given Geddy will use id as the display property.

$ geddy scaffold user name:default id:int

This time we used name type string as the default property. We also overwrote the included id property with a different type (by default it's a string).

Note: an ID property will always be created.

With scaffolding

This will be a short tutorial as scaffolding will do almost everything for us, I won't go into detail on what it does as it will be covered in exstensive detail in the resources tutorial. The source for this tutorial can be found here.

First we'll create our application, this will create a base so we can start on.

$ geddy app todo_app

Let's spend some time reviewing what geddy did. The previous command created a lot. During the tutorial we will edit and review some of this files, but we'll briefly explain what they are now so you get familiar with the base application.

  • app/controllers: contains the base controller and the main controller. All controllers will go in this folder
  • app/views/layouts/application.html.ejs: layout used by default by all the views
  • app/views/main/index.html.ejs: main view displayed when you visit the root of your web application
  • config/development.js: configuration for the development environment
  • config/environment.js: configuration for all your environments
  • config/init.js: this is where you write code that will be run only once your app starts.
  • config/production.js: configuration for the production environment
  • config/router.js: contains route settings. It has some examples and you can learn more about routes from the Wiki.
  • public/: contains static assets that will be served directly by geddy's server
  • public/css/: Geddy uses twitter bootstrap. These are referenced by the layout file (application.html.ejs)
  • public/img/: contains a few images used by twitter bootstrap. Your images will usually go here as well
  • public/js/: bootstrap and jquery scripts

Now from your app's root simply start geddy

$ cd todo_app 
$ geddy

Then open your browser to localhost:4000, and you'll find the hello world page.

So now we want to create a scaffold to manage our todo items. We will create a title and status property so that we have some attributes to use.

$ geddy scaffold todo title:default status

We are almost done. Now you have to restart geddy

$ geddy

Open your browser to localhost:4000/todos and you'll get a list of the todos which should be empty. Go ahead and look around, you can create show edit and delete todo items. We're going to make a few changes though.

The first thing we'll do is to add some validation to our Todo model. So open 'app/models/todo.js' in your editor and add the following lines anywhere inside the constructor function

var Todo = function () {
  // Add this inside the constructor function
  this.validatesLength('title', {min: 5});

  this.validatesWithFunction('status', function (status) {
    return status == 'open' || status == 'done';
Todo = geddy.model.register('Todo', Todo);

Here we are making it so the title property is required and have a minumum of 5 characters. We also made it so the status acts like a boolean attribute but uses custom names instead of true/false. We should also change our edit and add views to limit the options, but we will do it as part of the resources tutorial, for now we will leave the views the way they are.

Now that we've made the needed changes, restart Geddy to update our model changes. Go and play with the app again, create a todo item, try to edit and test the validation rules. We've got a good todo application running and didn't really have to do much. Scaffolding is very good when you need something simple to get you started. To learn more about controllers and views keep reading and follow the resources tutorial.

Without scaffolding

Let's start by using the geddy executable to generate a basic app-structure.

$ geddy app todo_app

Now let's try out our new application by running geddy from your application's root

$ cd todo_app 
$ geddy

Your app should be running on port 4000. Visit http://localhost:4000 in your browser to see your app.

Optional: check out your app on a mobile phone

  • point your mobile phone's browser to your computer on port 4000
  • OR open up your favorite phone simulator and go to http://localhost:4000
  • OR resize your browser to at most 480px wide


Now, let's get started building our To Do list manager. First, we'll need to generate the todo resource. We do this using the geddy executable as well:

$ geddy resource todo title:string status

What did that do?

  • It generated a todo model including the given model properties
  • It generated a todos controller
  • It created a todos view directory. Please note the folder is empty since resource won't generate any views for you.
  • It generated these routes from a resource route:
    • /todos (GET)
    • /todos (POST)
    • /todos/add (GET)
    • /todos/:id/edit (GET)
    • /todos/:id (GET)
    • /todos/:id (PUT)
    • /todos/:id (DELETE)


To start creating our views, create a few files in app/views/todos, those being:

  • _form.html.ejs
  • add.html.ejs
  • edit.html.ejs
  • index.html.ejs
  • show.html.ejs

We won't go into to much detail here, as it should be pretty self explanatory but I'll go through some things.

First we'll create the _form.html.ejs partial template, this will hold all the form data for edit and add actions .

  var isUpdate = params.action == 'edit'
    , formTitle = isUpdate ? 'Update this To Do Item' : 'Create a new To Do Item'
    , action = isUpdate ? todoPath( + '?_method=PUT' : todosPath
    , deleteAction = isUpdate ? todoPath( + '?_method=DELETE' : ''
    , btnText = isUpdate ? 'Update' : 'Add'
    , doneSelectAttributes = isUpdate && todo.status === 'done' ? "selected=true" : ''
    , openSelectAttributes = isUpdate && todo.status === 'open' ? "selected=true" : ''
    , titleValue = isUpdate ? todo.title : ''
    , errors = params.errors;
<form id="todo-form" class="form-horizontal" action="<%= action %>" method="POST">
    <legend><%= formTitle %></legend>
    <div class="control-group">
      <label for="title" class="control-label">Title</label>
      <div class="controls">
        <%- contentTag('input', titleValue, {type:'text', class:'span6', placeholder:'enter title', name:'title'}) %>
        <%  if (errors) { %>
          <% for (var p in errors) { %>
            <div><%=  errors[p];  %></div>
          <% } %>
        <% } %>
    <% if (isUpdate) { %>
      <div class="control-group">
        <label for="status" class="control-label">Status</label>
        <div class="controls">
          <select name="status" class="span6">
            <option <%=openSelectAttributes%>>open</option>
            <option <%=doneSelectAttributes%>>done</option>
    <% } %>
    <div class="form-actions">
      <%- contentTag('input', btnText, {type: 'submit', class: 'btn btn-primary'}) %>
      <% if (isUpdate) { %>
        <%- contentTag('button', 'Remove', {type: 'submit', formaction: deleteAction, formmethod: 'POST', class: 'btn btn-danger'}) %>
      <% } %>

Here we created a couple variables so we can tell if it's for a edit or add action, then if we have any errors we dislay them. Also we are using a couple view helpers (contentTag) which are helpful with dealing with assets, links, etc. You can read more about our view helpers here.

Now that we've created a base for our add and edit actions, we'll do them now. They're simple they just use the _form partial. Add the following code to add.html.ejs

<div class="hero-unit">
  <%= partial('_form', {params: params}); %>

The edit view is slightly different because we will need to pass the todo object to the partial. Modify app/views/todos/edit.html.ejs with the following code:

<div class="hero-unit">
  <%= partial('_form', {params: params, todo: todo}); %>

Now that we have views that will create todo items let's add a simple show.html.ejs just so we can test everything end to end. In the following code I just loop through the params.

<div class="hero-unit">
  <%- linkTo('Edit this todo', editTodoPath(, {class: 'btn pull-right'}); %>
  <% for (var p in todo) { %>
    <li><%= p + ': ' + params[p]; %></li>
  <% } %>

Finally we need to create the index action to link everything together.

<div class="hero-unit">
  <h2>To Do List</h2>
  <%- linkTo('Create a new To Do', addTodoPath, {class: 'btn pull-right'}) %>
<% if (todos && todos.length) { %>
  <% for (var i in todos) { %>
  <div class="row todo-item">
    <div class="span8">
        <h3><%- linkTo(todos[i].title, todoPath(todos[i].id)) %></h3>
    <div class="span4"><h3><i class="icon-list-alt"></i><%= todos[i].status; %></h3></div>
  <% } %>
<% } %>

For the index action we just have a link to add new items, and a list of all the items, with a link to each of their edit paths. If you notice we're using special helpers here, that create links to the path specified.


We're ready to start in on modeling our data. Geddy provides us with some pretty cool tools to do this:

  • Validation
  • Typed Data
  • Instance Methods
  • Static Methods

These tools should look somewhat familiar to anyone who's used an ORM-system like Ruby's ActiveRecord, or DataMapper.

Go ahead and open up app/models/todo.js. Read through the commented out code there for some ideas on what you can do with models. We'll be writing our model from scratch for this tutorial, so let's leave that commented out.

So, minus the commented out code, you should have a file that looks like this:

var Todo = function () {

      title: {type: 'string'}
    , status: {type: 'string'}


Todo = geddy.model.register('Todo', Todo);

The defineProperties method takes any number of properties to be added to the model. The keys in the object will be added as properties on the model. The values are just objects that describe the properties. When we ran the scaffold command it created these for us. But we want to change it so they are all `required`. To learn more, check out the readme.

There's also a more detailed validation API. While we're here, let's add some validation as well. The final code should look like this:

var Todo = function () {

      title: {type: 'string'}
    , status: {type: 'string'}
  this.validatesLength('title', {min: 5});

  this.validatesWithFunction('status', function (status) {
    return status == 'open' || status == 'done';

Todo = geddy.model.register('Todo', Todo);

For the title property, we made sure that the property is always present and we made sure that the title property is a minimum of 5 characters long.

For the status property, we used a function to validate that the property is always set to either open or done.

For more information about Geddy's Models, you can check out the Model wiki page.


Now that we've set up our todo model, we need to define a way to store it. To keep our models persistance agnostic, Geddy uses model-adapters. By default it will store objects in memory using the memory model adapter. You can change the default memoryAdapter in config/development.js.

defaultAdapter: 'memory'

Now we've got a place to store our todo's. This is in your application's memory, so it will disappear when you restart the server.

Optional: use mongo for persistence

Install a mongodb server if you haven't already and $ [sudo] npm install [-g] mongodb-wrapper to install the required mongodb-wrapper and set defaultAdapter = 'mongo' in config/development.js instead of the memory adapter. You will also have to specify the db configuration db: { mongo: { dbname: 'model_test' }. For more information see the Model API reference


Controllers sit between the views and models. They are also the entry point of our code. When a user gets a page a function in a controller, also called a controller acton, will get invoked. The controller will usually interact with the model and pass it to the view. The pattern isn't as black and white, but for the purpose of the tutorial, let's move on to actually write some controller actions.

Saving todos

To save a todo we need to edit the create action in app/controllers/todos.js. It's not doing much at the momment so lets modify it a little bit.

this.create = function (req, resp, params) {
  var self = this
    , todo = geddy.model.Todo.create({title:params.title, status:'open'});, data) {
    if (err) {
      params.errors = err;
    } else {

First, we create a new instance of the Todo model with geddy.model.Todo.create, passing in the title that our form will post up to us, and setting up the default status.

Then we call we call the save method. Internally, save does two things. It validates the model based on the rules we defined earlier. This is similar to calling todo.isValid(). If the model was valid, it will delegate to the model adapter configured previously to actually persist the model. If either step fails, you will get an error collection as the first parameter of the function and we redirect the user back to the /todos/add route. Otherwise we redirect to the controller's default action self.redirect({controller:});.

Listing all todos

Now that we we can create To Do items, we should probably list them somewhere. Lets change the index action in the todos controller.

Open up /app/controllers/todos.js again and replace the current implementaton with the following code.

this.index = function (req, resp, params) {
  var self = this;

  geddy.model.Todo.all(function(err, todos) {
    self.respond({params: params, todos: todos});

This part is a bit simpler and it follows a similar pattern. Instead of calling create in geddy.model.Todo this time we simply call all and we pass the data back to the view for rendering

Now that we can can load todo items you can test it by starting up Geddy and going to localhost:4000/todos and you can view the list of items.

Showing a todo

Now that we have our index action working as expected, we should work on the show controller action to display todo details. = function (req, resp, params) {
  var self = this;

  geddy.model.Todo.load(, function(err, todo) {
    self.respond({params: params, todo: todo});

Now we have a working show action in the controller to load items.

Updating a todo

Alright, now that we can view our todos let's edit the update and edit actions in the todos controller. They should look something like this:

this.edit = function (req, resp, params) {
  var self = this;

  geddy.model.Todo.load(, function(err, todo) {
    self.respond({params: params, todo: todo});

this.update = function (req, resp, params) {
  var self = this;

  geddy.model.Todo.load(, function(err, todo) {
    todo.updateAttributes(params);, data) {
      if (err) {
        params.errors = err;
      } else {

Deleting a todo

The delete is really simple specially now that you're familiar with the pattern. This time you will have to call remove passing the id of the todo you want to delete. We will leave the details as an excercise. Remember that you can always compare your solution to the final version.


Check these urls out in your browser:

  • GET: localhost:4000/todos.json
  • GET: localhost:4000/todos/:id.json
  • POST: localhost:4000/todos
  • PUT: localhost:4000/todos/:id


At this point you should have a working To Do List app!

If you want to explore a little more, here are some other things you could do:

  • Change the Main#index route to point to the Todos#index action (hint, check out config/router.js)
  • Add some logging with geddy.log
  • Configure mongo, riak or postgress and use it instead of the memory modelAdapter. See how easy it's to switch