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ember-m3 Build Status

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This addon provides an alternative model implementation to DS.Model that is compatible with the rest of the ember-data ecosystem.


Ember-data users define their schemas via DS.Model classes which explicitly state what attributes and relationships they expect. Having many such classes each explicitly defining their schemas provides a lot of clarity and a pleasant environment for implementing standard object oriented principles.

However, it can be an issue in environments where the API responses are not easily known in advance, or where they are so varied as to require thousands of DS.Models which can be a burden both to developer ergonomics as well as runtime performance.

ember-m3 lets you use a single class for many API endpoints, inferring the schema from the payload and API-specific conventions.

For example, if your API returns responses like the following:

  "data": {
    "id": "isbn:9780439708180",
    "type": "com.example.bookstore.Book",
    "attributes": {
      "name": "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone",
      "author": "urn:Author:3",
      "chapters": [{
        "name": "The Boy Who Lived",
        "mentionedCharacters": ["urn:Character:harry"],
        "readerComments": [{
          "id": "urn:ReaderComment:1",
          "type": "com.example.bookstore.ReaderComment",
          "name": "Someone or Other",
          "body": "I have it on good authority that this is part of a book of some kind",
  "included": [{
    "id": "urn:author:3",
    "type": "com.example.bookstore.Author",
    "attributes": {
      "name": "JK Rowling",

You could support it with the following schema:

// app/services/m3-schema.js
// generated via `ember generate service m3-schema`
import DefaultSchema from 'ember-m3/services/m3-schema';

const BookstoreRegExp = /^com\.example\.bookstore\.*/;
const ISBNRegExp = /^isbn:.*/;
const URNRegExp = /^urn:(\w+):(.*)/;

export default class MySchema extends DefaultSchema {
  includesModel(modelName) {
    return BookstoreRegExp.test(modelName);

  computeAttributeReference(key, value, modelName, schemaInterface) {
    if (!value) {

    let match;

    if (ISBNRegExp.test(value)) {
      return {
        id: value,
        type: 'com.example.bookstore.Book',
    } else if ((match = URNRegExp.exec(value))) {
      return {
        id: match[2],
        type: `com.example.bookstore.${match[1]}`,

  computeNestedModel(key, value, modelName, schemaInterface) {
    if (value && typeof value === 'object') {
      return {
        type: value.type,
        attributes: value,

Notice that in this case, the schema doesn't specify anything model-specific and would work whether the API returns 3 different kinds of models or 3,000.

Model-specific information is still needed to handle cases that cannot be generally inferred from the payload (such as distinguishing Date fields). See the Schema section for details.


The benefits of using ember-m3 over DS.Model are:

  • handle dynamic schemas whose structure is not known in advance
  • handle relationship references at arbitrary points in the payload seamlessly (eg relationship references within POJO attributes)
  • limit the payload size of schema information by inferring as much as possible from the structure of the payload itself
  • more easily query arbitrary URLs, especially when the types of the returned models are not known in advance

The trade-offs made for this include:

  • Having only one model class prevents the use of some OOP patterns: You can't add computed properties to only one model for instance, and will need to rely on a different pattern of helpers and utility functions
  • Inferring the schema from the payload can make the client side code less clear as is often the case in "static" vs. "dynamic" tradeoffs


  • ember install ember-m3


The existing store API works as expected. findRecord, queryRecord &c., will build a URL using the -ember-m3 adapter and create a record for the returned response using MegamorphicModel. Note that the actual name queried will be passed to the adapter so you can build URLs correctly.

For example

store.findRecord('', 'isbn:9780439708180');

Results in an adapter call

import MegamorphicModel from 'ember-m3/model';

findRecord(store, modelClass, id, snapshot) {
  modelClass === MegamorphicModel;
  snapshot.modelName === '';
  id === 'isbn:9780439708180';

ember-m3 does not define an -ember-m3 adapter but you can define one in your app. Otherwise the default adapter lookup rules are followed (ie your application adapter will be used).


ember-m3 also adds store.queryURL. This is helpful for one-off endpoints or endpoints where the type returned is not known and you just want a thin wrapper around the API response that knows how to look up relationships.

store.queryURL(url, options);

Return Value

Returns a promise that will resolve to

  1. A MegamorphicModel if the primary data of the normalized response is a resource.
  2. A RecordArray of MegamorphicModels if the primary data of the normalized response is an array of resources.

The raw API response is normalized via the -ember-m3 serializer. M3 does not define such a serializer but you can add one to your app if your API requires normalization to JSON API.


  • url The URL path to query. The -ember-m3 adapter is consulted for its host and namespace properties.

    • When url is an absolute URL, (eg or a network-path reference (eg //books), the adapter's host and namespace properties are ignored.
    • When url is an absolute path reference (eg /books) it is prefixed with the adapter's host and/or namespace if they are present.
    • When url is a relative path reference it is prefixed with the adapter's host and/or namespace, whichever is present. It is an error to call queryURL when url is a relative path reference and the adapter specifies neither host nor namespace.
  • options additional options. All are optional, as is the options object itself.

    • options.method defaults to GET. The HTTP method to use.

    • options.params defaults to null. The parameters to include, either in the URL (for GET requests) or request body (for others).

    • options.cacheKey defaults to null. A string to uniquely identify this request. null or undefined indicates the result should not be cached. It is passed to serializer.normalizeResponse as the id parameter, but the serializer is free to ignore it.

    • options.reload defaults to false. If true, make a request even if an entry was found under cacheKey. Do not resolve the returned promise until that request completes.

    • options.backgroundReload defaults to false. If true, make a request even if an entry was found under cacheKey. If true and a cached entry was found, resolve the returned promise immediately with the cached entry and update the store when the request completes.


When cacheKey is provided, the response is cached under cacheKey.

If the response contains an model with an id, that model will be cached under that id as well as under the cacheKey. The entry under the model's id and under the cacheKey will point to the same model. Changes to the model will be reflected in both the models retrieved by cacheKey and the models retreived by the model's id.

Using cacheKey with queryURL can be useful to show, eg dashboard data or any other data that changes over time.

Consider the following:

store.queryURL('/newsfeed/latest', { cacheKey: 'newsfeed.latest', backgroundReload: true });

In this example, the first time the user visits a route that makes this query, the promise will wait to resolve until the request completes. The second time the request is made the promise will resolve immediately with the cached values while loading fresh values in the background.

Note that what is actually cached is the result: ie either a MegamorphicModel or, more likely, a RecordArray of MegamorphicModels.

It is possible to do the same thing in stock Ember Data by making a DS.Model class to wrap your search results and querying via:

// app/models/news-feed.js
import DS from 'ember-data';
export DS.Model.extend({
  feedItems: DS.hasMany('feed-item'),

// somewhere, presumably in a route
store.findRecord('news-feed', 'latest', { backgroundReload: true });

As with ember-m3 generally, similar functionality is provided without the need to create models and relationships within your app code.

Cache Eviction

Because models (or RecordArrays of models are cached) the cache can be emptied automatically when the models are unloaded. In the case of RecordArrays of models, the entire cache entry is evicted if any of the member models is unloaded.

Manual Cache Insertion

In cases where we need to manually insert into the cache, we can use cacheURL. As an example, we may need to compute a secondary cache key once we receive response from our API.

store.queryURL('/foo', { cacheKey }).then(result => {
  const secondaryCacheKey = computeSecondaryCacheKey(result);
  store.cacheURL(secondaryCacheKey, result);

When we unload the model, we will evict both the initial cacheKey as well as secondaryCacheKey.

store.queryURL('/foo', { cacheKey: 'foo' }).then(result => {
  store.cacheURL('bar', result);

  // Cache conceptually looks like: { foo: ..., bar: ...' }
  // Cache is now empty


You have to register a schema to tell ember-m3 what types it should be enabled for, as well as information that cannot be inferred from the response payload. You can think of the schema as a service that represents the same information, more or less, as all of your DS.Model files.

What is a schema

When modeling a payload it is necessary to know what properties of the payload are attributes that should be accessible to the application & templates, what properties are relationships that should look up other models, and what properties should be ignored.

DS.Model achieves this by enumerating the attributes and relationships on a DS.Model subclass inside your app/models directory.

By contrast ember-m3 relies on application-wide conventions to know the difference between attributes and relationships and otherwise reports all properties returned by the API as accessible to the application.

For APIs with many models, the ember-m3 approach can produce a substantially smaller application. Similarly the approach uses fewer classes which reduces the runtime cost of relationships.


Schema is a service registered from app/services/m3-schema.js. For convenience you can extend a default schema from ember-m3/services/schema. The schema should have following properties.

  • includesModel(modelName) Whether or not ember-m3 should handle this modelName. It's fine to just return true here but this hook allows ember-m3 to work alongside DS.Model.

  • computeAttributeReference(key, value, modelName, schemaInterface) A function that determines whether an attribute is a reference. If it is not, return null or undefined. Otherwise return an object with properties:

    • id The id of the referenced model (either m3 or DS.Model)
    • type The type of the referenced model (either m3 or DS.Model),

    null is also a valid type in which case id will be looked up in a global cache.

    Note that attribute references are all treated as synchronous. There is no ember-m3 analogue to DS.Model async relationships.

  • computeNestedModel(key, value, modelName, schemaInterface) Whether value should be treated as a nested model. Useful for deeply nested references, eg with the following data:

      id: 1,
      type: '',
      attributes: {
        bestChapter: {
          number: 7,
          characterPOV: 'urn:character:2'

    We would want model.get('bestChapter.characterPOV') to return the character model with id 2, but this requires that the bestChapter attribute is treated as a nested m3 model and not a simple object.

    If value is a nested model, computeNestedModel must return an object with the properties id, type and attributes. It is fine for this to simply treat all objects as nested models (be careful with transforms; you may want to explicitly check value.constructor). eg

    computeNestedModel(key, value, modelName, schemaInterface) {
      if(value && value.constructor === Object) {
        return {
          type: value.type,
          attributes: value,
  • setAttribute(modelName, attrName, value, schemaInterface) A function that can be used to update the record-data with raw value instead of resolved value. schemaInterface.setAttr(key,value) should be invoked inside the function to set the value. If this function is not provided, m3 will set value as is.


    setAttribute(modelName, attrName, value, schemaInterface) {
      // Check if the value is resolved as model
      // update attribute record-data with id information.
      if (value && value.constructor && value.constructor.isModel) {
        schemaInterface.setAttr(attrName, value.get('id'));
  • computeAttributes(keys, modelName) Compute the actual attribute names, default just return the array passed in. This is useful if you need to "decode/encode" your attribute names in a certain form, e.g., add a prefix when serializing.

  • models an object containing type-specific information that cannot be inferred from the payload. The models property has the form:

      models: {
        myModelName: {
          attributes: [],
          defaults: {
            attributeName: 'defaultValue',
          aliases: {
            aliasName: 'attributeName',
          transforms: {
            attributeName: transformFunctionn /* value */

    The keys to models are the types of your models, as they exist in your normalized payload.

    • attributes A list of whitelisted attributes. It is recommended to omit this unless you explicitly want to prevent unknown properties returned in the API payload from being read. If present, it is an array of strings that list whitelisted attributes. Reads of non-whitelisted properties will return undefined.

    • defaults An object whose key-value pairs map attribute names to default values. Reads of properties not included in the API will return the default value instead, if it is specified in the schema.

    • aliases Alternate names for payload attributes. Aliases are read-only, ie equivalent to Ember.computed.reads and not Ember.computed.alias

    • transforms An object whose key-value pairs map attribute names to functions that transform their values. This is useful to handle attributes that should be treated as Dates instead of strings, for instance.

      function dateTransform(value) {
        if (!value) { return; }
        return new Date(Date.parse());
        models: {
          '': {
            transforms: {
              publishDate: dateTransform,

Serializer / Adapter

ember-m3 will use the -ember-m3 adapter to make queries via findRecord, queryRecord, queryURL &c. Responses will be normalized via the -ember-m3 serializer.

ember-m3 provides neither an adapter nor a serializer. If your app does not define an -ember-m3 adapter, the normal lookup rules are followed and your application adapter is used instead

It is perfectly fine to use your application adapter and serializer. However, if you have an app that uses both m3 models as well as DS.Models you may want to have different request headers, serialization or normalization for your m3 models. The -ember-m3 adapter and serializer are the appropriate places for this.

Alternative Patterns

If you are converting an application that uses DS.Models (perhaps because it has a very large number of them and ember-m3 can help with performance) you may have some patterns in your model classes beyond schema specification.

There are no particular requirements around refactoring these except that when you only have a single class for your models you won't be able to use typical object-oriented patterns.

The following are simply recommendations for common patterns.


Use the schema defaults feature to replace constant values in your DS.Model classes. For example:

// app/models/my-model.js
export DS.Model.extend({
  myConstant: 24601,

// convert to

// app/initializers/schema-initializer.js
  models: {
    'my-model': {
      defaults: {
        myConstant: 24601,


Use the schema aliases feature to replace use of Ember.computed.reads. You can likely do this also to replace the use of Ember.computed.alias as quite often they can be read only.

// app/models/my-model.js
export DS.Model.extend({
  name: DS.attr(),
  aliasName: Ember.computed.reads('name'),

// convert to

// app/initializers/schema-initializer.js
  models: {
    'my-model': {
      aliases: {
        aliasName: 'name',

Random UI State or other non-attr non-relationship properties

Let's say you are converting the following Museum model:

// models/museum.js
export DS.Model.extend({
  name: DS.attr(),

And that for Bad Reasons™ you discover that your team has been stashing a custom object on the museum describing some ad-hoc state (maybe for the ui?):

Ember.set(museum, 'retrofit', retrofitState);

Let's say this state has a formal class:

const RetrofitState = Ember.Object.extend({
  statusText: Ember.computed('statusCode', function() {
    let code = this.get('statusCode');

    switch (code) {
      case 0:
        return 'Not started';
      case 1:
        return 'In Progress';
      case 2:
        return 'Incomplete, on hold';
      case 3:
        return 'Completed';
        return 'Unknown';

While you should not store local-state/ui-state (e.g. any state not part of the schema) on records, you can make this pattern temporarily work with M3 by doing a Bad Thing™ and giving the class constructor a static isModel flag:

RetrofitState.isModel = true; // THIS COMES WITH CONSEQUENCES

This is not without consequences. Setting this flag makes M3 treat this object as a resolvedValue, meaning that it will be included as an attribute when snapshot.eachAttribute is called by a serializer. This is very likely not what you want and very likely will cause "spooky action at a distance" bugs for others on your team (like suddenly sending serialized information about retrofits to the API).

Before saving these records, you would need to carefully scrub it by deleting this and any other local properties off of it, or you would need to ensure that the serializer did not serialize this attribute. This will be tedious, annoying and brittle, but that is the sacrifice paid for such Bad Things™.

Ultimately, you should refactor your application away from this Bad Practice™ to pass these separate objects alongside each other, for instance by wrapping them in an hash like the following:

let museumRetrofit = {

Other Computed Properties

More involved computed properites can be converted to either utility functions (if used within JavaScript) or helper functions (if used in templates).

For properties used in both templates and elsewhere (eg components) a convenient pattern is to define a helper that exports both.

// app/models/my-model.js
export DS.Model.extend({
  name: DS.attr('string'),
  sillyName: Ember.computed('name', function() {
    return `silly ${this.get('name')}`;
{{! some-template.hbs }}
{{my-component name=model.sillyName}}
// app/routes/index.js
let sn = model.get('sillyName');

Coverted to

// app/helpers/silly-name.js
export function getSillyName(model) {
  if (!model) {
  return `silly ${model.get('name')}`;

function sillyNameHelper(positionalArgs) {
  if (positionalArgs.length < 1) {

  return getSillyName(positionalArgs[0]);

export default Ember.Helper.helper(sillyNameHelper);
{{! some-template.hbs }}
{{silly-name model}}
{{my-component name=(silly-name model)}}
// app/routes/index.js
import { getSillyName } from '../helpers/silly-name';

// ...
let sn = getSillyName(model);


ember-m3 does not impose any particular requirements with saving models. If your endpoints cannot reliably be determined via snapshot.modelName it is recommended to add support for adapterOptions.url in your adapter. For example:

// app/adapters/-ember-m3.js
import ApplicationAdapter from './application';
export default ApplicationAdapter.extend({
  findRecord(store, type, id, snapshot) {
    let adapterOptions = snapshot.adapterOptions || {};
    let url = adapterOptions.url;
    if (!url) {
      url = this.buildURL(snapshot.modelName, id, snapshot, 'findRecord');

    return this.ajax(url, 'GET');

  // &c.

// somewhere else, perhaps in a route'', 1, { url: '/book/from/surprising/endpoint' });


  • ember@^2.12.0
  • ember-data@~2.14.10



  • git clone <repository-url> this repository
  • cd ember-m3
  • yarn install

Running Tests

  • yarn run test (Runs ember try:each to test your addon against multiple Ember versions)
  • ember test
  • ember test --server


  • ember build

For more information on using ember-cli, visit