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Thorax Seed

The Thorax Seed contains a blank Thorax + Lumbar project that you can download and clone to start building your app.

To report issues or submit pull requests on Thorax itself visit the core library repository.

From Zero to Todos

The Thorax intro screencast demonstrates how to build a simple todo list in a few minutes. It also shows the optional Thorax Inspector Chrome Extension. To start from scratch and build your own you'll need git and Node installed on your system. You'll then need to download or clone this repository:

git clone git://

Once your clone is complete, change directories into your cloned seed and run:

npm install

This may take a minute. Note that all of the dependencies are specific to making it easier to build, run and test your app. Once your app is written it can be deployed in any environment. Once npm install is finished you can start your app:

npm start

Your project is ready to run and a browser window will be opened with the running app. You'll see that nothing at all is there since it's a blank project.

File Structure

  • bower.json : Dependencies of the project, if you need to add or remove libraries from your application, edit this file
  • Gruntfile.js : Your friendly Grunt configuration file, npm start will run the default task specified in this file
  • js : All of your application code lives in here
  • lumbar.json : A config containing all of the routes and files that compose your application
  • package.json : Standard npm config file, only needed while still developing your app
  • public : Will be served as the root directory by the server
  • public/modules : Your generated application code, this folder should generally not be checked into git
  • stylesheets : Generally speaking your styles should be application wide (in base.css) or split up per module
  • tasks : Any extra grunt tasks, including the scaffolding
  • templates : Handlebars templates, if a template shares the name / path as a view it will be auto assigned as the template property of the view


The seed comes with some simple code generation tools that will automatically create files, folders and update your lumbar.json file. To run the code generation tools you first need the grunt-cli:

npm install -g grunt-cli

Once you've got that installed you can run any of the following commands:

  • grunt generate:module:moduleName
  • grunt generate:view:moduleName/viewName
  • grunt generate:collection-view:moduleName/viewName
  • grunt generate:model:moduleName/modelName
  • grunt generate:collection:moduleName/collectionName
  • grunt generate:router:moduleName
  • grunt generate:stylesheet:moduleName

To generate your first view run:

grunt generate:view:todos/index

In addition to modifying lumbar.json a number of files will be created:

  • js/views/todos/index.js
  • templates/todos/index.handlebars

It will also initialize a todos module since it doesn't exist yet. This will in turn create:

  • js/routers/todos.js
  • stylesheets/todos.css

Modules and lumbar.json

A Lumbar module is composed of routes (to be passed to Backbone.Routers), stylesheets and JavaScripts. When a route is visited the scripts and styles associated with the module will be loaded. After running the generate:view task your lumbar.json should look like this:

  "mixins": [
  "modules": {
    "todos": {
      "routes": {},
      "scripts": [
      "styles": [
  "templates": {
    "js/init.js": [

mixins loads up the base configurations for the project. To edit what libraries (jQuery / Bootstrap, etc) are included in the project open up bower.json. The templates hash defines what templates map to a given view. An entry only needs to be added if the name of a view doesn't match the name of a template. For instance, the generator created js/views/todos/index.js and templates/todos/index.js, but it doesn't need to be defined here as the names match.

Since all routes are specified in lumbar.json, to create our first route it needs to be added there so we will create an empty (root) route pointing at an index method:

"modules": {
  "todos": {
    "routes": {
      "": "index"

In js/routers/todos.js we will then implement the method:

new (Backbone.Router.extend({
  routes: module.routes,
  index: function() {


Note that module.routes is automatically made available and will contain the hash of routes specified in lumbar.json for the todos module.

Application and Views

The Application object contains a number of subclasses defined in the js folder:

  • js/view.js contains Application.View descends from Thorax.View
  • js/collection.js contains Application.Collection descends from Thorax.Collection
  • js/model.js contains Application.Model descends from Thorax.Model

Any application specific methods can be defined in those files.

To place the first view on your page take a look at js/views/todos/index.js:

  name: "todos/index"

When a view class is created with extend that has name property it will automatically be available on the Application.Views hash:


Any template with the same name will also automatically be set as the template property, in this case templates/todos/index.handlebars will be automatically set as the template property.

The Application object also serves as our root view and its el is already attached to the page. It is an instance of Thorax.LayoutView which is meant to display a single view at a time and has a setView method. In js/routers/todos.js we can call:

index: function() {
  var view = new Application.Views["todos/index"]({});

Update templates/todos/index.handlebars with some content to see that it's displaying properly.

Rendering a Collection

To implement a todos list we need to create a collection and set it on the view. Unlike a Backbone.View instance a Thorax.View (and therefore Application.View) instance does not have an options object. All properties passed to the constructor are set on the instance and also become available inside of the handlebars template.

Our index method in js/routers/todos.js should look like:

index: function() {
  var collection = new Application.Collection([{
    title: 'First Todo',
    done: true
  var view = new Application.Views["todos/index"]({
    collection: collection

To display the collection we will edit templates/todos/index.handlebars and use the collection helper which will render the block for each model in the collection setting model.attributes as the context inside the block. A tag option may be specified to define what type of HTML tag will be used when creating the collection element:

{{#collection tag="ul"}}

Since we want to be able to mark our todos as done and add new ones, we will add a checkbox to each item in the collection and a form to make new items at the bottom. Our templates/todos/index.handlebars should now look like:

{{#collection tag="ul"}}
  <li {{#done}}class="done"{{/done}}>
    <input type="checkbox" {{#done}}checked{{/done}}>
  <input name="title">
  <input type="submit" value="Add">

Lastly add an associated style in stylesheets/todos.css:

.done {
  text-decoration: line-through;

View Behaviors

In order to add new items to the list we should listen to the submit event on form elements in our view. We can use the events hash in js/views/todos/index.js:

"submit form": function(event) {
  var attrs = this.serialize();

The serialize method will return a hash of all attributes in form elements on the page. Since we had an input with a name of title attrs will be set to: {title: "your todo"}. When using the collection helper or a CollectionView Thorax adds, removes and updates views in the collection as appropriate, so once we add a new model to the collection the view will automatically update.

'change input[type="checkbox"]': function(event) {
  var model = $(;

We also need to listen for a change in a checkbox so we can mark a model as done. Thorax extends the jQuery or Zepto $ object with three methods: $.view, $.model and $.collection. They will retrieve closest bound object to an element. In this case a model was automatically bound to the li tag passed into the collection helper in the template. Now that we have a reference to the model we can update it and the view will automatically update.

Our finished js/views/todos.js file should look like:

  name: "todos/index",
  events: {
    "submit form": function(event) {
      var attrs = this.serialize();
    'change input[type="checkbox"]': function(event) {
      var model = $(;

And that's a finished non persistent todo list application! For a more complex todos example see the Thorax + Lumbar TodoMVC example

More Seeds

  • Todos : The project in the state at the end of the screencast (and described in this document)
  • Mocha : Blank seed with a Mocha test harness setup