Consuming a RESTful Web Service with Backbone.js :: Learn how to retrieve web page data with Backbone.js.
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This guide walks you through writing a simple Backbone client that consumes a Spring MVC-based RESTful web service.

What you will build

You will build a Backbone client that consumes a Spring-based RESTful web service. Specifically, the client will consume the service created in Building a RESTful Web Service with CORS.

The Backbone client will be accessed by opening the index.html file in your browser, and will consume the service accepting requests at:

The service will respond with a JSON representation of a greeting:

{"id":1,"content":"Hello, World!"}

The client will render the ID and content into the DOM.

You can customize the greeting with an optional query string in the url:


The code will send a parameter to the REST endpoint and render a custom greeting into the DOM.

What you’ll need

  • About 15 minutes

  • A favorite text editor

  • A modern web browser

  • An internet connection

  • Node.js and Git pre-installed

  • Bower installed as a global node.js JavaScript package

Create bower configuration files

First, create a bower control file, .bowerrc. This file tells bower where to put the JavaScript dependencies. The .bowerrc file should be located at the root of the project ({project_id}/initial) and formatted as JSON:



From a command prompt at the root of the project, run bower init. This will create a bower.json file that describes each JavaScript package required by the project. Bower will ask for several bits of information such as a project name, license, etc. If in doubt, just press Enter to accept the defaults.

Next, use bower to install Backbone (since we’re using JavaScript modules, we’ll use the AMD version of Backbone), jQuery and Lodash (an alternative to Underscore), and an AMD module loader such as curl.js. From the command prompt, type:

bower install --save backbone-amd#~1
bower install --save jquery#~2
bower install --save lodash#~1
bower install --save curl#~0.8

Bower will install these packages into the directory we listed in .bowerrc. Since we specified the --save option, bower will store the package information in the bower.json file.

When done, the bower.json file should have a "dependencies" object property that lists "backbone-amd", "jquery", "lodash", and "curl" as property names and their semver information as values:



Create a Backbone Model

Backbone consumes data from a RESTful web services via models and collections. First, you’ll create a Backbone model that represents the data you want to consume from the REST service.



The model extends Backbone’s base Model, and sets the model’s urlRoot to the REST service at Note that it also passes its id field as a url query parameter. This is used to customize the greeting using the query string, as mentioned above (e.g. http://localhost:8080/?User)

Create a Backbone View

Next, you’ll create a Backbone view to render the data in your HelloModel.



The view extends Backbone’s base View. The initialize method will be called when the view is instantiated. It uses Underscore to compile a template that will be used to render the model data, saving the compiled template in this.template.

Backbone automatically wraps the view’s root DOM Node (which will be provided when instantiating the view) in jQuery and makes it available as this.$el. The render method renders the compiled template, passing the model data, and then uses jQuery’s html() method to insert the rendered output into the DOM.

Create a Controller



This controller instantiates a HelloModel, and then invokes its fetch method to fetch data from the REST service and populate the model’s data fields. Then it instantiates a HelloView, passing the DOM Node where it should render, and the model. The view will automatically render the model using its compiled template.

Create a boot script

Next, create the boot script, run.js:



This script configures the AMD loader: curl.config(). The main configuration property tells curl.js where to find the application’s main module, which will be fetched and evaluated automatically. The packages config object tells curl.js where to find modules in our application’s packages or in third-party packages.

Create the Application Page

Now that you have a model, view, and controller, you’ll create the HTML page that will load the client into the user’s web browser:



The script element will load curl.js and then load an application boot script named "run.js". The boot script will initialize and configure an AMD module environment and then start the client-side application code.

<script data-curl-run="run.js" src="lib/curl/src/curl.js"></script>

Next is the HTML template that your view uses to render the model data. Note that we use a script tag, with the type text/html. This tells the browser not to try to execute the script tag as JavaScript. It has an id so that it can be easily referenced from the view and compiled.

<script type="text/html" id="hello-template">
    <p>The ID is <%= id %></p>
    <p>The content is <%= content %></p>

Finally, there is the root DOM Node of the view. The view will render the model data, using the template, into this node:

<div class="hello">

Run the client

To run the client, you’ll need to serve it from a web server to your browser. The Spring Boot CLI (Command Line Interface) includes an embedded Tomcat server, which offers a simple approach to serving web content. See Building an Application with Spring Boot for more information about installing and using the CLI.

In order to serve static content from Spring Boot’s embedded Tomcat server, you’ll also need to create a minimal amount of web application code so that Spring Boot knows to start Tomcat. The following app.groovy script is sufficient for letting Spring Boot know that you want to run Tomcat:



You can now run the app using the Spring Boot CLI:

spring run app.groovy

Once the app starts, open http://localhost:8080 in your browser, where you see:

Model data retrieved from the REST service is rendered into the DOM.

The ID value will increment each time you refresh the page.


Congratulations! You’ve just developed a Backbone client that consumes a Spring-based RESTful web service.