Skip to content

A javascript single page application (SPA) driver for REST API payload management.


Notifications You must be signed in to change notification settings


Repository files navigation


Build Status npm version Bower version MIT Licensed

Payload.js is a javascript single page application (SPA) driver that allows you to automate and manage REST API requests and render Handlebars templates or raw HTML from the response data. It also allows you to render Handlebars templates with expressions populated by data in memory, and includes a pub/sub, or publish/subscribe, API for managing custom events.

When DOM objects imbued with Payload.js's selectors are activated, a call to Payload.apiRequest() is performed, which involves making an XHR request and/or rendering a template. Payload.js also contains rendered template/response caching and an extensions API as additional means of integration.

Table of Contents


Payload.js can be cloned or downloaded directly from GitHub, installed from NPM, or installed from Bower.

Install from NPM

$ npm install payloadjs --save

Install from Bower

$ bower install payloadjs --save


Note: Handlebars is not required if you choose to only work with raw XHR responses, e.g. HTML returned directly from an API request.


Payload.js automatically binds to HTML elements based on the following selectors:

  • Links (activated on click)
    • a[data-selector]
    • a[data-url]
    • button[data-selector]
    • button[data-url]
  • Forms (activated on submit)
    • form[data-selector]
    • form[data-url]

Payload.js selectors can also contain the data-auto-load attribute to cause them to be automatically invoked on page/template load. Selectors are used to invoke API calls and/or render templates when they receive an appropriate trigger event or they are called directly with Payload.apiRequest().


The most useful feature of Payload.js is its intuitive HTML5 API. It can be used out of the box with little to no configuration and interacted with entirely from HTML. This makes Payload.js accessible to the non-javascript-savvy developer.

<button data-url="/api/endpoint"
    Button text

Payload.js Initialization Options

Option Type Default Description
apiAccessToken string '' Supply an access token for your application and it will be added as the Authorization request header for all XHR requests.
apiAfterRender function $.noop Invoked just after rendering a template.
apiBeforeRender function $.noop Invoked just before rendering a template.
apiCallback function $.noop Called during API request handling before XHR requests (but after loading a template if no XHR request is required). See API Callback Params for more information about the arguments.
apiOnClick function function() { return true; } Invoked on API link activation; if it returns a false value, Payload.js will skip performing an API request.
apiOnSubmit function function() { return true; } Invoked on API form submission; if it returns a false value, Payload.js will skip performing an API request.
apiResponseParent string '' If set, unserialized XHR response objects will use the specified property as the parent key for response data (e.g. if all API responses contain {"response": {}}).
context object or string 'body' Payload.js will only monitor events on the given DOM object or selector string.
dataNamespace string '' If set, Payload will look for data-[dataNamespace]- attributes instead of data- attributes. This can be used to prevent data- attribute naming conflicts.
debug boolean false If true, outputs useful debugging information to the console.
loadingDefault boolean true If true, sets the default behavior for all XHR requests to clear the $target element and show the loadingHtml within it. If false, the $target element's content will not be cleared until updated by the $api response. This can be overridden for any API request using the data-loading attribute.
loadingHtml string <small>Loading...</small> The default HTML to insert into API $target if the loading flag for the request is true.
partials object Handlebars.partials The namespace containing precompiled Handlebars partials.
subscribers array [] List of events and callback functions to pass to Payload.addSubscribers method. These subscribers are initialized upon the call.
templates object Handlebars.templates The namespace containing precompiled Handlebars templates.
timeout number 0 Timeout value, in milliseconds, before XHR requests are aborted. This can be overridden for any API request using the data-timeout attribute. If set to 0, no timeout will occur.
xhrAlways function $.noop Called after each XHR request, regardless of success/failure.
xhrBeforeSend function $.noop Called before each XHR request.
xhrDone function $.noop Called after each successful XHR request.
xhrFail function $.noop Called after each failed XHR request.

Primary Methods

  • deliver(options) - Used to initialize the initial options to Payload.js and start monitoring the Payload.js context for events; see Payload.js Options.
  • apiRequest($origin) - Automatically called when a selector is activated. May also be called explicitly by passing in a jQuery object with the proper data attributes. See API Request Handling for more information about this method.
  • triggerAutoLoad($element) - Perform an API request on any DOM nodes containing the attribute data-auto-load. If $element is given, perform an API request on the given jQuery object instead of on the Payload.js $context.
  • publish(eventName, arguments) - Publish a Payload.js. Any arguments given will pass through to the event handlers subscribed to the event named.
  • subscribe(eventName, function) - Subscribe to a Payload.js event. When the specified event is published the function provided will be invoked and passed event-specific arguments.
  • unsubscribe(eventName, function) - Stop subscribing to a Payload.js event.
  • addSubscribers(subscribers) - Subscribe multiple functions to an array of events: subscribers={events: [], methods: []}.
  • clearCache(type, key) - Based on the type, the cached "response" data will be cleared for the given key. If no type is specified all caches are cleared. If a type is specified but no key, then all items within that type of cache are cleared.

Helper Methods

  • merge(options) - Allows you to merge or extend the current Payload.js options with new options via the given object.
  • serializeObject($form) - Serializes form data into an object, automatically creating arrays for form fields containing the same name.
  • debug(m) - Allows you to pass in a single method as a string with the subsequent parameters being that method's arguments, OR pass in an object containing keys as method names and values as method arguments (single argument or array of multiple arguments).

API Request Handling

Once a selector has been activated, Payload.js performs any API calls requested and renders the template specified. Your app can interact with Payload.js via various callback methods and by "subscribing" to API events. Upon completion of rendering a template, Payload.js will call Payload.triggerAutoLoad($target).

When performing an API request Payload.js will also manage showing and hiding loading indicators. If the "data-loading" attribute is set to "true" (or the "loadingDefault" option is true) the "$target" element will be cleared and have the "loadingHtml" inserted. Otherwise Payload.js will look for an element with the attribute data-role set to loading and call on it.

API Request Flow

Note that DOM objects must either perform an API call by having api.url set (see the API Object and HTML attributes) or specifying a template to load.

  1. Subscribe to events with the beforeRender namespace to modify any data before the view is rendered.
  2. Invoke apiCallback method set in Payload.js options (see API Callback Params).
  3. If no API URL was specified or a cached view was used, publish the API events and trigger auto-load.
  4. Show any configured loading indicators.
  5. Perform the XHR. 1. Failures will invoke the xhrFail callback option. 1. The xhrAlways callback option always gets called on XHR completion. 1. The xhrDone callback is invoked upon a successful XHR.
  6. If a template selector is defined, render the template into the specified location. If api.loading was set, the loading element will quickly fade out first. The xhrDone callback option is invoked, API events are published, and triggerAutoLoad($target) is called.
  7. Cache the XHR response if requested.

API Callback Params

When invoking events or invoking callbacks for apiCallback, apiBeforeRender, and apiAfterRender, a params argument is passed to the handler. It contains the following properties:

  • $origin - The jQuery object the Payload.js API originated on.
  • $target - The jQuery object pointed to by $origin's [data-selector] attribute.
  • api - The API object described in API Object and HTML Attributes.

If the API call involves making a XHR request the following additional attributes are abilable on the "params" object:

  • response - API response
  • status - jQuery status result
  • jqXHR - jQuery XHR response object
  • html - template HTML (undefined until HTML is rendered)
  • api - The API object described in API Object and HTML Attributes.

API Object and HTML Attributes

The API object defined below is passed within the API params to the various callback methods. The various options are controlled through HTML data- attributes on the $origin object, which points to a $target object for template rendering.

  • href - The href attribute value from $origin; for reference and for use with an external routing component
  • url - $origin data-url or action (form) attribute; Used as API URL if set
  • method - $origin data-method or method attribute; HTTP method to use in API call (default: 'get')
  • cacheRequest - $origin data-cache-request attribute; if true flag XHR request to be cached
  • cacheResponse - $origin data-cache-response attribute; if true use cached response from Payload.js
  • type - jQuery XHR request type (default: 'json')
  • selector - $origin data-selector attribute; jQuery selector for the API $target that a template will be loaded into
  • template - $origin "data-template" attribute; name of the Handlebars template to load into the location specified by data-selector(overridesdata-partial` if also set)
  • partial - $origin data-partial attribute; name of the Handlebars partial template to load into the location specified by data-selector
  • events - $origin data-publish attribute; space-separated list of events to have published to Payload.js subscribers
  • requestData - combination of JSON serialized form data and any JSON-encoded values within $origin data-form attribute
  • templateData - See Template Data below
  • loading - $origin data-loading attribute; if "true" (or the loadingDefault option is true) the $target element will be cleared and have the loadingHtml from Payload.js options inserted during API request handling.

Template Data

Every Handlebars template always has the following data available:

  • app - Any custom application data contained in Payload.appData
  • request - href, url, method, and cacheKey for the API call
  • view - A dictionary of all data-* attributes from $origin

Payload.js Object Properties

  • options - Current set of options (see Payload.js Options)
  • appData - Object for storing arbitrary application data; provided as app within template data
  • cache - Object containing response cache; available for external component cache