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knockout.unobtrusiveBindingProvider is an unobtrusive, convention-based binding provider for Knockout JS that enables a clean separation of HTML and Knockout databindings.

As Knockout traverses the DOM, the unobtrusiveBindingProvider analyses each HTML element and:

  1. Using the id, name (for <input> or <select> tags), each class name or member: (for virtual elements; see below), attempts to map to a member of the current $data object; and

  2. Determines what binding should be used, based on the HTML element and the type of the member:

    HTML element Member type/Observable's underlying type Binding
    * Number, String text
    * Boolean visible
    * Object with
    * Array foreach
    * Function click
    input Number, String value
    input[type="checkbox|radio"] Boolean checked
    select Number, String, Object value
    select Array selectedOptions
  • If the appropriate member isn't found, in the current context, the unobtrusiveBindingProvider will attempt to find one by bubbling up through the parent contexts.
  • Where an element has multiple classes and a member hasn't already been mapped, the unobtrusiveBindingProvider will attempt to map each class until a member has been found.
  • If the target (id, name or class) is hyphonated and a member hasn't already been mapped, then the unobtrusiveBindingProvider will regard this as a path to a member in the object graph (for example, meal-formattedPrice will be regarded as meal.formattedPrice) and will attempt to navigate through the object graph until it reaches the destination member. However, if any part of the hyphonated target doesn't match a path in the object graph, the mapping will be terminated. If any part of the path is an observable then the parentheses should be omitted.

Where a member has been mapped and the member is an observable, the unobtrusiveBindingProvider will analyse the member and determine if the mapped binding should be overridden (the binding extender) and/or whether there are additional bindings (the bindings extender): = ko.observable(name).extend({ binding: "textInput" });
this.meal = ko.observable(meal).extend({ bindings: "options:$root.meals,optionsText:'name'" });

If a member is an Array or Function the ko.utils.extend method can be used to add bindings:

this.meals = ko.utils.extend([
    new Meal("Standard (sandwich)"),
    new Meal("Premium (lobster)", 34.95),
    new Meal("Ultimate (whole zebra)", 290)
], { bindings: "attr:{title:'available meals'}" });

Note: for binding to primitive type arrays, use the item placeholder:

<ul id="additions">
    <li class="item"></li>

Overriding the binding of a function will map the binding to the event binding

this.addSeat = ko.utils.extend(function () {...}, { binding: "keypress" });

Members that shouldn't be bound to the view, but which match the id, name or a class, can be ignored (the ignore extender):

this.fullName = ko.pureComputed(...).extend({ ignore: true });

HTML elements that don't map to a member of the model will be mapped to a member of the ko.bindings object:

<div id="content"></div>
ko.bindings = {
    content: "template:'reservations'"

It can be useful to see what bindings are being generated and so there is a ko.debug flag that will add the data-bind attribute to HTML element:

ko.debug = location.hostname === "";

Note: the unobtrusiveBindingProvider automatically sets ko.debug to true where the hostname is localhost or the protocol is file:.

Virtual Elements

The unobtrusiveBindingProvider uses the following syntax, for virtual elements:

    <!-- additions: -->
    <li class="item"></li>
    <!-- /additions -->

Note: the standard ko syntax is not compatible with the unobtrusiveBindingProvider, however, the ko.virtualElements.allowedBindings still apply.


  • Knockout 2.0+


Review the index.html file for examples and test it with jsFiddle: Unobtrusive databinding in Knockout JS.





Further reading

See Unobtrusive databinding in Knockout JS.


An unobtrusive binding provider for KnockoutJS.



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