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Strengthening your Backbone
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An opinionated, battle tested Backbone + Handlebars framework to build large scale web applications.


Open the index.html file from the downloaded project in your browser.

Node + Lumbar

Run npm start from the downloaded project.


Run npm start from the downloaded project.


Run rails server from the downloaded project.

Download 2.0.0b5 Download 2.0.0b5 Download 2.0.0b5 Download 2.0.0b5

Thorax 2 is presently in beta, the stable source and documentation are still available.

Thorax can be used standalone in any JavaScript environment in addition the boilerplate projects provided above.

var view = new Thorax.View({
  greeting: "Hello",
  template: "{{greeting}} world!"
Editable Examples Resources

All of the examples use the same sample data.


Thorax creates a special hash for each type of class to store all subclasses in your application. The use of Thorax.Views and Thorax.templates is required to allow the view, template and other helper methods to operate, but the use of the others are optional and provided for consitency.

Class Registry


If a name property is passed to any Thorax classes' extend method the resulting class will be automatically set in the corresponding registry.

//set class
  name: "my-view"

//get class

templates Thorax.templates

A hash of templates, used by various Thorax helpers. If using the node or Rails boilerplate projects this hash will be automatically generated from the files in your templates directories. To manually add a template to the hash:

Thorax.templates['my-template-name'] = Handlebars.compile('template string');

If a View has the same name as a template in the templates hash, it's `template' property will be automatically assigned.


The base Thorax.View implementation is concerned only with Handlebars + Backbone integration. A variety of additional functionality is provided by the various included plugins. The boilerplate projects have a build of Thorax with all plugins included.

Thorax.View provides mostly additive functionality over Backbone.View but breaks compatibility in one imporant way in that it does not use an options object. All properties passed to the constructor become available on the instance:

var view = new Thorax.View({
  key: "value"
view.key === "value"

children view.children

A hash of child view's indexed by cid. Child views may become attached to the parent with the view helper or may be automatically attached HelperView instanced created by helpers created with regsterViewHelper.

parent view.parent

If a view was embedded inside another with the view helper, or is a HelperView created by a helper creted with registerViewHelper the view will have a parent attribute.

template view.template

Assign a template to a view. This may be a string or a function which recieves a single context argument and returns a string. If the view has a name and a template of the same name is available the template will be auto-assigned.

new Thorax.View({
  template: "{{key}}"

destroy view.destroy([options])

By default this will only call destroy on all child views. Other plugins override this method to implement custom cleanup behaviors. Your own behaviors can be added with the destroyed event. Pass children: false to this method to prevent the view's children from being destroyed.

render view.render([content])

Renders the view's template updating the view's el with the result, triggering the rendered event. content may be empty (render the template) or a function that will be called with the response from context or a string.

//will render template
//will insert custom content
view.render('custom html')

context view.context()

Used by render to determine what attributes are available in the view's template. The default context function returns this. If the model plugin is used, this + model.attributes will be the context.

renderTemplate view.renderTemplate(name, [,extraContext] [,ignoreErrors])

Render a template with the view's context plus any optional extraContext parameters passed in.

ensureRendered view.ensureRendered()

Ensure that the view has been rendered at least once.

html view.html([content])

Get or set the innerHTML of the view, without triggering the rendered event.

View Helpers

super {{super}}

Embed the template from the parent view within the child template.


template {{template name [options]}}

Embed a template inside of another, as a string. An associated view (if any) will not be initialized. By default the template will be called with the current scope but extra options may be passed which will be added to the context.

{{template "path/to/template" key="value"}}

If a block is used, the template will have a variable named yield available that will contain the contents of the block.

{{#template "child"}}
  content in the block will be available in a variable 
  named "yield" inside the template "child"

This is useful when a child template will be called from multiple different parents.

view {{view name [options]}}

Embed one view in another. The first argument may be the name of a new view to initialize or a reference to a view that has already been initialized.

{{view "path/to/view" key="value"}}
{{view viewInstance}}

If a block is specified it will be assigned as the template to the view instance:

{{#view viewInstance}}
  viewInstance will have this block
  set as it's template property

element {{element name [options]}}

Embed a DOM element in the view. This uses a placeholder technique to work, if the placeholder must be of a certain type in order to work (for instance a tbody inside of a table) specify a tag option.

{{element domElement tag="tbody"}}

registerViewHelper Handlebars.registerViewHelper(name [,viewClass] ,callback)

Note that this differs from Handlebars.registerHelper. Registers a helper that will create and append a new HelperView instance, with it's template attribute set to the value of the captured block. callback will recieve any arguments passed to the helper followed by a HelperView instance. Named arguments to the helper will be present on options attribute of the HelperView instance.

A HelperView instance differs from a regular view instance in that it has a parent attribute which is always set to the declaring view, and a context which always returns the value of the parent's context method. The collection, empty and other built in block view helpers are created with registerViewHelper.

A helper that re-rendered a HelperView every time an event was triggered on the declaring view could be implemented as:

Handlebars.registerViewHelper('on', function(eventName, helperView) {
  helperView.listenTo(helperView.parent, eventName, function() {

An example use of this would be to have a counter that would incriment each time a button was clicked. In Handlebars:

{{#on "incrimented"}}{{i}}{/on}}
{{#button trigger="incrimented"}}Add{{/button}}

And the corresponding view class:

new Thorax.View({
  events: {
    incrimented: function() {
  initialize: function() {
    this.i = 0;
  template: ...

In addition, if a view class is specified as the second argument to registerViewHelper, the helper will always initialize a view of that class instead of a HelperView:

  Thorax.CollectionView, function(collection, view) {



tag Thorax.Util.tag(name, htmlAttributes [,content] [,context])

Generate an HTML string. All built in HTML generation uses this method. If context is passed any Handlebars references inside of the htmlAttributes values will rendered with the context.

Thorax.Util.tag("div", {
  id: "div-{{number}}"
}, "content of the div", {
  number: 3


$.view $([options])

Get a reference to the nearest parent view. Pass helper: false to options to exclude HelperViews from the lookup. $.model and $.collection will also be available if you include the model and collection plugins.



destroyed destroyed ()

Triggered when the destroy method is called.

rendered rendered ()

Triggered when the rendered method is called.

child child (instance)

Triggered every time a child view is inserted into the view with the view helper. Will not be triggered from view instances created by helper view helpers.

helper helper (name [,args...] ,helperView)

Triggered when a view helper (such as collection, empty, etc) create a new HelperView instance.

helper:name helper:name [,args...] ,helperView)

Triggered when a given view helper creates a new HelperView instance.

{{#collection cats}}{{/collection}}

view.on('helper:collection', function(collection, collectionView) {


HTML Attributes

Thorax and it's view helpers generate a number of custom HTML attributes that may be useful in debugging or generating CSS selectors to be used as arguments to $ or to create CSS. The *-cid attributes are generally used only internally. See $.model, $.collection and $.view to get a reference to objects directly from the DOM. The *-name attributes will only be present if the given objects have a name property.

Attribute Name Attached To
data-view-cidEvery view instances' el
data-view-nameSame as above, only present on named views
data-collection-cidElement generated by the `collection helper`
data-collection-nameSame as above, only present when the bound collection is named
data-collection-emptySet to "true" or "false" depending on wether the bound collection isEmpty
data-model-cidA view's el if a model was bound to the view or each item element inside of elements generated by the collection helper
data-model-nameSame as above, only present if the model is named
data-layout-cidThe element generated by the layout helper or el inside of a LayoutView or ViewController instance
data-view-helperElements generated by various helpers including collection and empty from the collection plugin
data-call-methodElements generated by the link and button helpers
data-trigger-eventElements generated by the link and button helpers

When creating CSS selectors it's recommended to use the generated attributes (especially data-view-name) rather than assigning custom IDs or class names for the sole purpose of styling.

[data-view-name="my-view-name"] {
  border: 1px solid #ccc;

Command Line

To use the command line utilities:

npm install -g thorax

build thorax build target [plugin] [plugin...]

Build a custom version of Thorax using a list of any of the given plugins:

  • mixin
  • event
  • model
  • collection
  • helpers
  • form
  • layout
  • loading
  • mobile

Not specifying any plugins will build a version with all plugins except mobile. To build a version of Thorax with all plugins including the mobile plugin run:

thorax build ./thorax-mobile.js --mobile

Not specifying any arguments will build both the mobile and regular versions of Thorax in the dist directory of the npm package:

thorax build

templates thorax templates ./templates ./templates.js

If using Thorax outside of the provided node or Rails downloads you can inline a directory of templates into a single file by running the thorax templates command.

npm install -g thorax
thorax templates ./templates-dir ./templates.js

Error Handling

onException Thorax.onException(name, error)

Bound DOM event handlers in Thorax are wrapped with a try / catch block, calling this function if an error is caught. This hook is provided primarily to allow for easier debugging in Android environments where it is difficult to determine the source of the error. The default error handler is simply:

function(name, error) {
  throw error;

Override this function with your own logging / debugging handler. name will be the event name where the error was thrown.

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