Efficient JavaScript development in a Java world
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Efficient JavaScript development in a Java world

Node.js is not always a possibility. This is a JavaScript setup that works in an all-Java environment, and it shows that good JavaScript toolchains are possible even without Node.js.

Hopefully this will make your JavaScript development a whole lot easier when there's only Java all around.

The Toolchain

This is an opinionated sample setup of a Java project which uses:

Test Coverage

Test coverage is useful for finding untested parts of a codebase. We have included Saga, which is a great Java-based test coverage tool for JavaScript. Saga generates test coverage reports in both HTML and LCOV format. The latter is named total-coverage.dat and can be read by Sonar (the file might need to be renamed first). Both files can be found in the target/coverage folder after a build.


When developing the best way to run the tests is with:

mvn jasmine:bdd

The tests are also run during the build, just try it with:

mvn clean test


The code is minified by using the requirejs-maven-plugin. The plugin uses r.js with the buildconfig specified in buildconfig.js.

The minified code uses Almond instead of Require.js, as a full AMD loader is not needed for the minified code. Almond is also created by James Burke, the creator of Require.js, and is a minimal AMD API implementation with a minified and gzipped size of about 1 kilobyte.

The minified JavaScript code is put in the build folder in the target. To ensure that everything is working, open the index.html in the build folder in the browser. We only need to include app.js when the code is minified, i.e.

<script type="text/javascript" src="app.js"></script>

Index file and cache busting

This setup has a very simplified handling of the index file. It basically just serves the JavaScript non-minified using Require.js when the system property env is set to development, e.g. to see it up and running:

$ mvn jetty:run -Denv=development

Otherwise it serves the minified JavaScript file, which includes timestamp for cache busting, which is put in when the file is packaged into a war, e.g. to see it up and running:

$ mvn jetty:run-war


To easily include templates we use a Require.js Hogan plugin and a RequireJS Handlebars Plugin. Each project would in most cases only use one template engine, so when you have chosen which one to use, just remove the other one.

Lets say we create the following Mustache file, foo.mustache:

<div class="foo">

We can then load it using the hgn command:

// this will load the "foo.mustache" file using the Hogan plugin
require(['hgn!foo'], function(foo) {
    // the plugin returns the `render()` method of the `Hogan.Template`

    var markup = foo({
        title : 'Hello!',
        names : ['world', 'foo bar', 'lorem ipsum']


During optimization the templates will be pre-compiled and stored as pure JavaScript for better performance.


This setup contains an example of an initial setup of a Backbone.js application, which solves some of the regular Backbone.js troubles people run into. It should be quite simple to remove Backbone, but keep the rest of the setup.

Memory leaks

Most Backbone.js applications have memory leaks because of events. If you have code like this you might have problems:

var UserView = Backbone.View.extend({
    initialize: function() {
        this.model.on("change", this.render, this);
    render: function() {
        // ...

When you show and then remove this view from the DOM, it's easy to forget to remove the bound events on the model. And if you forget to do that it's quite likely that your views won't be garbage collected, which leads to memory leaks.

You find a potential solution in eventBinder.js, which is used by destroy in view.js.

Now, instead of using on, you would use bindTo:

var UserView = Backbone.View.extend({
    initialize: function() {
        this.bindTo(model, "change", this.render, this);
    render: function() {
        // ...

When calling destroy on the view, the event is automatically removed.

It is also important to recursively destroy subviews. This is automatically done by destroy when addSubView is used on these subviews, e.g.

renderUserDetails: function() {
  var userDetailView = new UserDetailView({ el: el });

Templates for views

There are many ways to solve views in Backbone. As already explained, we use Hogan.js with a Require.js plugin, which enable us to add templates as follows:

define(['base/view', 'hgn!modules/user/user'], function(View, userTemplate) {

    var UserView = View.extend({

        template: userTemplate,

        render: function() {


    return UserView;


You'll find renderTemplate in view.js.


The JSHint config can be found in jshint-options.js. You can find all the potential options in the JSHint docs. The settings default to breaking the build on any JSHint errors. If you want to be more lenient, you can choose how many errors to allow via the JSHINT_MERCY value.

Created by

This toolchain has been set up by @kjbekkelund and @hinderberg. However, we owe an enourmous amount of gratitude for the amazing work of the developers of the code used in this toolchain. You make the Java world far more bearable.

Unless otherwise noted, the code in this repo is in the public domain.