Caching for Backbone's fetch method
Latest commit ccb333f Oct 24, 2015 @blainsmith blainsmith ugh

Backbone fetch cache


Build Status

A Backbone plugin to cache calls to Backbone.Model.prototype.fetch and Backbone.Collection.prototype.fetch in memory and localStorage.

Compatible with Backbone 1.0.0 and up.

How it works

This plugin intercepts calls to fetch and stores the results in a cache object (Backbone.fetchCache._cache). If fetch is called with { cache: true } in the options and the URL has already been cached the AJAX call will be skipped.

The local cache is persisted in localStorage if available for faster initial page loads.

The prefill option allows for models and collections to be filled with cache data just until the fetch operations are complete -- a nice way to make the app feel snappy on slower connections.

What's wrong with browser caching for AJAX responses? Nothing. This plugin is primarily for working with an API where you don't have control over response cache headers.


Add the script to the page after backbone.js has been included:

<script src="/path/to/backbone.js"></script>
<script src="/path/to/backbone.fetch-cache.js"></script>

or if you're using AMD, require the script as a module:


Note that the AMD module depends on underscore and backbone modules being defined as it lists them as dependencies. If you don't have these mapped, you can do it by adding the following to your require config:

  paths: {
    backbone: 'actual/path/to/backbone.js',
    underscore: 'actual/path/to/underscore.js'

If you are using CommonJS modules, install via npm:

npm install backbone-fetch-cache

then require it in your modules:

var fetchCache = require('backbone-fetch-cache');

A note on Zepto.js. This plugin uses jQuery.Deferred which is not included in Zepto. You'll need to add a third party implementation of jQuery.Deferred, e.g. Standalone-Deferred


#.fetch() options

The most used API hook for Backbone Fetch Cache is the Model and Collection #.fetch() method. Here are the options you can pass into that method to get behaviour particular to Backbone Fetch Cache:


Calls to modelInstance.fetch or collectionInstance.fetch will be fulfilled from the cache (if possible) when cache: true is set in the options hash:

myModel.fetch({ cache: true });
myCollection.fetch({ cache: true });


Cache values expire after 5 minutes by default. You can adjust this by passing expires: <seconds> to the fetch call. Set to false to never expire:

myModel.fetch({ cache: true, expires: 60000 });
myCollection.fetch({ cache: true, expires: 60000 });

// These will never expire
myModel.fetch({ cache: true, expires: false });
myCollection.fetch({ cache: true, expires: false });

prefill and prefillExpires

This option allows the model/collection to be populated from the cache immediately and then be updated once the call to fetch has completed. The initial cache hit calls the prefillSuccess callback and then the AJAX success/error callbacks are called as normal when the request is complete. This allows the page to render something immediately and then update it after the request completes. (Note: the prefillSuccess callback will not fire if the data is not found in the cache.)

  prefill: true,
  prefillSuccess: someCallback, // Fires when the cache hit happens
  success: anotherCallback // Fires after the AJAX call

  prefill: true,
  prefillSuccess: someCallback, // Fires when the cache hit happens
  success: anotherCallback // Fires after the AJAX call

prefill and prefillExpires options can be used with the promises interface like so (note: the progress event will not fire if the data is not found in the cache.):

var modelPromise = myModel.fetch({ prefill: true });
modelPromise.progress(someCallback); // Fires when the cache hit happens
modelPromise.done(anotherCallback); // Fires after the AJAX call

var collectionPromise = myModel.fetch({ prefill: true });
collectionPromise.progress(someCallback); // Fires when the cache hit happens
collectionPromise.done(anotherCallback); // Fires after the AJAX call

prefillExpires affects prefill in the following ways:

  1. If the cache doesn't hold the requested data, just fetch it (usual behaviour)
  2. If the cache holds an expired version of the requested data, just fetch it (usual behaviour)
  3. If the cache holds requested data that is neither expired nor prefill expired, just return it and don't do a fetch / prefill callback (usual cache behavior, unusual prefill behaviour)
  4. If the cache holds requested data that isn't expired but is prefill expired, use the prefill callback and do a fetch (usual prefill behaviour)
  prefill: true,
  prefillExpires: 2000,
  prefillSuccess: someCallback, // Fires when the cache hit happens
  success: anotherCallback // Fires after the AJAX call

  prefill: true,
  prefillExpires: 2000,
  prefillSuccess: someCallback, // Fires when the cache hit happens
  success: anotherCallback // Fires after the AJAX call


If you want to know when was the last (server) sync of a given key, you can use:


Explicitly fetching a cached item

You can explicitly fetch a cached item, without having to call the models/collection fetch. This might be useful for debugging and testing:


This will return the raw cache entity. Usually, you'd probably want to get the value, which is the model/collection data (attributes) itself:


Note that this method always gets the cache data, without validating it or checking if it expired.


By default the cache is persisted in localStorage (if available). Set Backbone.fetchCache.localStorage = false to disable this:

Backbone.fetchCache.localStorage = false;

Custom cache keys

By default the cache key is generated from the model's url property and the requests params:


This can be overridden with custom logic if required:

// Instance is a Backbone.Model or Backbone.Collection, options are passed
// through form the fetch call
Backbone.fetchCache.getCacheKey = function(instance, options) {
  return + ':' + instance.get('id');
  // => UserModel:1

You can also define a custom cache key function per model/collection

var MyModel = Backbone.Model.extend({
  getCacheKey: function(options) {
    return 'myModel:' + this.get('id');
  // => myModel:1


Cache Priority in localStorage

When setting items in localStorage, the browser may throw a QUOTA_EXCEEDED_ERR, meaning the store is full. Backbone.fetchCache tries to work around this problem by deleting what it considers the most stale item to make space for the new data. The staleness of data is determined by the sorting function priorityFn, which by default returns the oldest item.

The default is:

Backbone.fetchCache.priorityFn = function(a, b) {
  if (!a || !a.expires || !b || !b.expires) {
    return a;

  return a.expires - b.expires;

You can override this function with your own logic (in this case, returning the most recent item):

Backbone.fetchCache.priorityFn = function(a, b) {
  return b.expires - a.expires;


The sync event will be triggered on a server response which skips the cache, as well as a cache hit. A cachesync event is also triggered on Models and Collections, but only when a cache hit happens, not a server sync. This can be used if you need to differentiate between a server backed sync event and a cache backed event.

Automatic Cache Invalidation

The cache item for a particular call will be cleared when a create, update, patch or delete call is made to the server. The plugin tries to be intelligent about this by clearing a model's collection cache if the model has a .collection property.

To achieve this, the plugin overrides Backbone.Model.protoype.sync and then calls the original method. If you are planning to override sync on a particular model then you should keep this in mind and make sure that you do it before the plugin runs. Overriding Backbone.sync directly should work fine.

Manual Cache Invalidation

Sometimes you just need to clear a cached item manually. Backbone.fetchCache.clearItem() can be called safely from anywhere in your application. It will take your backbone Model or Collection, a function that returns the key String, or the key String itself. If you pass in a Model or Collection, the .getCacheKey() method will be checked before the url property.

// With Model
// With Function
Backbone.fetchCache.clearItem(function () {
  return someModel.url;
// With Key


You can run the tests by cloning the repo, installing the dependencies and running grunt jasmine:

$ npm install
$ grunt jasmine

The default grunt task runs tests and lints the code.

$ grunt


We will handle release versioning based on the changes. This will update package.json, bower.json, and also create a new git tag.

Once the version is bumped you can uglify the file so the version makes it into the uglified version.

$ grunt uglify

Now commit the changes, push to GitHub, and npm publish.