Backbone supplies structure to JavaScript-heavy applications by providing models with key-value binding and custom events, collections with a rich API of enumerable functions, views with declarative event handling, and connects it all to your existing application over a RESTful JSON interface.

The project is hosted on GitHub, and the annotated source code is available, as well as an online test suite, an example application and a list of tutorials.

You can report bugs and discuss features on the GitHub issues page, on Freenode IRC in the #documentcloud channel, post questions to the Google Group, or send tweets to @documentcloud.

Backbone is an open-source component of DocumentCloud.

Downloads & Dependencies (Right-click, and use "Save As")

Development Version (0.5.2) 41kb, Full Source with Comments
Production Version (0.5.2) 4.6kb, Packed and Gzipped

Backbone's only hard dependency is Underscore.js. For RESTful persistence, history support via Backbone.Router and DOM manipulation with Backbone.View, include json2.js, and either jQuery ( > 1.4.2) or Zepto.

Upgrading to 0.5.0+

We've taken the opportunity to clarify some naming with the 0.5.0 release. Controller is now Router, and refresh is now reset. The previous saveLocation and setLocation functions have been replaced by navigate. Backbone.sync's method signature has changed to allow the passing of arbitrary options to jQuery.ajax. Be sure to opt-in to pushState support, if you want to use it.


When working on a web application that involves a lot of JavaScript, one of the first things you learn is to stop tying your data to the DOM. It's all too easy to create JavaScript applications that end up as tangled piles of jQuery selectors and callbacks, all trying frantically to keep data in sync between the HTML UI, your JavaScript logic, and the database on your server. For rich client-side applications, a more structured approach is often helpful.

With Backbone, you represent your data as Models, which can be created, validated, destroyed, and saved to the server. Whenever a UI action causes an attribute of a model to change, the model triggers a "change" event; all the Views that display the model's data are notified of the event, causing them to re-render. You don't have to write the glue code that looks into the DOM to find an element with a specific id, and update the HTML manually — when the model changes, the views simply update themselves.

Many of the examples that follow are runnable. Click the play button to execute them.


Events is a module that can be mixed in to any object, giving the object the ability to bind and trigger custom named events. Events do not have to be declared before they are bound, and may take passed arguments. For example:

var object = {};

_.extend(object, Backbone.Events);

object.bind("alert", function(msg) {
  alert("Triggered " + msg);

object.trigger("alert", "an event");

bindobject.bind(event, callback, [context])
Bind a callback function to an object. The callback will be invoked whenever the event (specified by an arbitrary string identifier) is fired. If you have a large number of different events on a page, the convention is to use colons to namespace them: "poll:start", or "change:selection"

To supply a context value for this when the callback is invoked, pass the optional third argument: model.bind('change', this.render, this)

Callbacks bound to the special "all" event will be triggered when any event occurs, and are passed the name of the event as the first argument. For example, to proxy all events from one object to another:

proxy.bind("all", function(eventName) {

unbindobject.unbind([event], [callback])
Remove a previously-bound callback function from an object. If no callback is specified, all callbacks for the event will be removed. If no event is specified, all event callbacks on the object will be removed.

object.unbind("change", onChange);  // Removes just the onChange callback.

object.unbind("change");            // Removes all "change" callbacks.

object.unbind();                    // Removes all callbacks on object.

triggerobject.trigger(event, [*args])
Trigger callbacks for the given event. Subsequent arguments to trigger will be passed along to the event callbacks.


Models are the heart of any JavaScript application, containing the interactive data as well as a large part of the logic surrounding it: conversions, validations, computed properties, and access control. You extend Backbone.Model with your domain-specific methods, and Model provides a basic set of functionality for managing changes.

The following is a contrived example, but it demonstrates defining a model with a custom method, setting an attribute, and firing an event keyed to changes in that specific attribute. After running this code once, sidebar will be available in your browser's console, so you can play around with it.

var Sidebar = Backbone.Model.extend({
  promptColor: function() {
    var cssColor = prompt("Please enter a CSS color:");
    this.set({color: cssColor});

window.sidebar = new Sidebar;

sidebar.bind('change:color', function(model, color) {
  $('#sidebar').css({background: color});

sidebar.set({color: 'white'});


extendBackbone.Model.extend(properties, [classProperties])
To create a Model class of your own, you extend Backbone.Model and provide instance properties, as well as optional classProperties to be attached directly to the constructor function.

extend correctly sets up the prototype chain, so subclasses created with extend can be further extended and subclassed as far as you like.

var Note = Backbone.Model.extend({

  initialize: function() { ... },

  author: function() { ... },

  coordinates: function() { ... },

  allowedToEdit: function(account) {
    return true;


var PrivateNote = Note.extend({

  allowedToEdit: function(account) {
    return account.owns(this);


Brief aside on super: JavaScript does not provide a simple way to call super — the function of the same name defined higher on the prototype chain. If you override a core function like set, or save, and you want to invoke the parent object's implementation, you'll have to explicitly call it, along these lines:

var Note = Backbone.Model.extend({
  set: function(attributes, options) {, attributes, options);

constructor / initializenew Model([attributes])
When creating an instance of a model, you can pass in the initial values of the attributes, which will be set on the model. If you define an initialize function, it will be invoked when the model is created.

new Book({
  title: "One Thousand and One Nights",
  author: "Scheherazade"

Get the current value of an attribute from the model. For example: note.get("title")

setmodel.set(attributes, [options])
Set a hash of attributes (one or many) on the model. If any of the attributes change the models state, a "change" event will be triggered, unless {silent: true} is passed as an option. Change events for specific attributes are also triggered, and you can bind to those as well, for example: change:title, and change:content.

note.set({title: "October 12", content: "Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet..."});

If the model has a validate method, it will be validated before the attributes are set, no changes will occur if the validation fails, and set will return false. You may also pass an error callback in the options, which will be invoked instead of triggering an "error" event, should validation fail.

Similar to get, but returns the HTML-escaped version of a model's attribute. If you're interpolating data from the model into HTML, using escape to retrieve attributes will prevent XSS attacks.

var hacker = new Backbone.Model({
  name: "<script>alert('xss')</script>"


Returns true if the attribute is set to a non-null or non-undefined value.

if (note.has("title")) {

unsetmodel.unset(attribute, [options])
Remove an attribute by deleting it from the internal attributes hash. Fires a "change" event unless silent is passed as an option.

Removes all attributes from the model. Fires a "change" event unless silent is passed as an option.
A special property of models, the id is an arbitrary string (integer id or UUID). If you set the id in the attributes hash, it will be copied onto the model as a direct property. Models can be retrieved by id from collections, and the id is used to generate model URLs by default.

A special property of models, the cid or client id is a unique identifier automatically assigned to all models when they're first created. Client ids are handy when the model has not yet been saved to the server, and does not yet have its eventual true id, but already needs to be visible in the UI. Client ids take the form: c1, c2, c3 ...

The attributes property is the internal hash containing the model's state. Please use set to update the attributes instead of modifying them directly. If you'd like to retrieve and munge a copy of the model's attributes, use toJSON instead.

defaultsmodel.defaults or model.defaults()
The defaults hash (or function) can be used to specify the default attributes for your model. When creating an instance of the model, any unspecified attributes will be set to their default value.

var Meal = Backbone.Model.extend({
  defaults: {
    "appetizer":  "caesar salad",
    "entree":     "ravioli",
    "dessert":    "cheesecake"

alert("Dessert will be " + (new Meal).get('dessert'));

Remember that in JavaScript, objects are passed by reference, so if you include an object as a default value, it will be shared among all instances.

Return a copy of the model's attributes for JSON stringification. This can be used for persistence, serialization, or for augmentation before being handed off to a view. The name of this method is a bit confusing, as it doesn't actually return a JSON string — but I'm afraid that it's the way that the JavaScript API for JSON.stringify works.

var artist = new Backbone.Model({
  firstName: "Wassily",
  lastName: "Kandinsky"

artist.set({birthday: "December 16, 1866"});


Resets the model's state from the server. Useful if the model has never been populated with data, or if you'd like to ensure that you have the latest server state. A "change" event will be triggered if the server's state differs from the current attributes. Accepts success and error callbacks in the options hash, which are passed (model, response) as arguments.

// Poll every 10 seconds to keep the channel model up-to-date.
setInterval(function() {
}, 10000);[attributes], [options])
Save a model to your database (or alternative persistence layer), by delegating to Backbone.sync. The attributes hash (as in set) should contain the attributes you'd like to change -- keys that aren't mentioned won't be altered. If the model has a validate method, and validation fails, the model will not be saved. If the model isNew, the save will be a "create" (HTTP POST), if the model already exists on the server, the save will be an "update" (HTTP PUT).

In the following example, notice how our overridden version of Backbone.sync receives a "create" request the first time the model is saved and an "update" request the second time.

Backbone.sync = function(method, model) {
  alert(method + ": " + JSON.stringify(model)); = 1;

var book = new Backbone.Model({
  title: "The Rough Riders",
  author: "Theodore Roosevelt"
});;{author: "Teddy"});

save accepts success and error callbacks in the options hash, which are passed (model, response) as arguments. The error callback will also be invoked if the model has a validate method, and validation fails. If a server-side validation fails, return a non-200 HTTP response code, along with an error response in text or JSON.{author: "F.D.R."}, {error: function(){ ... }});

Destroys the model on the server by delegating an HTTP DELETE request to Backbone.sync. Accepts success and error callbacks in the options hash. Triggers a "destroy" event on the model, which will bubble up through any collections that contain it.

book.destroy({success: function(model, response) {

This method is left undefined, and you're encouraged to override it with your custom validation logic, if you have any that can be performed in JavaScript. validate is called before set and save, and is passed the attributes that are about to be updated. If the model and attributes are valid, don't return anything from validate; if the attributes are invalid, return an error of your choosing. It can be as simple as a string error message to be displayed, or a complete error object that describes the error programmatically. set and save will not continue if validate returns an error. Failed validations trigger an "error" event.

var Chapter = Backbone.Model.extend({
  validate: function(attrs) {
    if (attrs.end < attrs.start) {
      return "can't end before it starts";

var one = new Chapter({
  title : "Chapter One: The Beginning"

one.bind("error", function(model, error) {
  alert(model.get("title") + " " + error);

  start: 15,
  end:   10

"error" events are useful for providing coarse-grained error messages at the model or collection level, but if you have a specific view that can better handle the error, you may override and suppress the event by passing an error callback directly:

account.set({access: "unlimited"}, {
  error: function(model, error) {

Returns the relative URL where the model's resource would be located on the server. If your models are located somewhere else, override this method with the correct logic. Generates URLs of the form: "/[collection.url]/[id]", falling back to "/[urlRoot]/id" if the model is not part of a collection.

Delegates to Collection#url to generate the URL, so make sure that you have it defined, or a urlRoot property, if all models of this class share a common root URL. A model with an id of 101, stored in a Backbone.Collection with a url of "/documents/7/notes", would have this URL: "/documents/7/notes/101"

Specify a urlRoot if you're using a model outside of a collection, to enable the default url function to generate URLs based on the model id. "/[urlRoot]/id"

var Book = Backbone.Model.extend({urlRoot : '/books'});

var solaris = new Book({id: "1083-lem-solaris"});


parse is called whenever a model's data is returned by the server, in fetch, and save. The function is passed the raw response object, and should return the attributes hash to be set on the model. The default implementation is a no-op, simply passing through the JSON response. Override this if you need to work with a preexisting API, or better namespace your responses.

If you're working with a Rails backend, you'll notice that Rails' default to_json implementation includes a model's attributes under a namespace. To disable this behavior for seamless Backbone integration, set:

ActiveRecord::Base.include_root_in_json = false

Returns a new instance of the model with identical attributes.

Has this model been saved to the server yet? If the model does not yet have an id, it is considered to be new.

Manually trigger the "change" event. If you've been passing {silent: true} to the set function in order to aggregate rapid changes to a model, you'll want to call model.change() when you're all finished.

Has the model changed since the last "change" event? If an attribute is passed, returns true if that specific attribute has changed.

Note that this method, and the following change-related ones, are only useful during the course of a "change" event.

book.bind("change", function() {
  if (book.hasChanged("title")) {

Retrieve a hash of only the model's attributes that have changed. Optionally, an external attributes hash can be passed in, returning the attributes in that hash which differ from the model. This can be used to figure out which portions of a view should be updated, or what calls need to be made to sync the changes to the server.

During a "change" event, this method can be used to get the previous value of a changed attribute.

var bill = new Backbone.Model({
  name: "Bill Smith"

bill.bind("change:name", function(model, name) {
  alert("Changed name from " + bill.previous("name") + " to " + name);

bill.set({name : "Bill Jones"});

Return a copy of the model's previous attributes. Useful for getting a diff between versions of a model, or getting back to a valid state after an error occurs.


Collections are ordered sets of models. You can to bind "change" events to be notified when any model in the collection has been modified, listen for "add" and "remove" events, fetch the collection from the server, and use a full suite of Underscore.js methods.

Any event that is triggered on a model in a collection will also be triggered on the collection directly, for convenience. This allows you to listen for changes to specific attributes in any model in a collection, for example: Documents.bind("change:selected", ...)

extendBackbone.Collection.extend(properties, [classProperties])
To create a Collection class of your own, extend Backbone.Collection, providing instance properties, as well as optional classProperties to be attached directly to the collection's constructor function.

Override this property to specify the model class that the collection contains. If defined, you can pass raw attributes objects (and arrays) to add, create, and reset, and the attributes will be converted into a model of the proper type.

var Library = Backbone.Collection.extend({
  model: Book

constructor / initializenew Collection([models], [options])
When creating a Collection, you may choose to pass in the initial array of models. The collection's comparator function may be included as an option. If you define an initialize function, it will be invoked when the collection is created.

var tabs = new TabSet([tab1, tab2, tab3]);

Raw access to the JavaScript array of models inside of the collection. Usually you'll want to use get, at, or the Underscore methods to access model objects, but occasionally a direct reference to the array is desired.

Return an array containing the attributes hash of each model in the collection. This can be used to serialize and persist the collection as a whole. The name of this method is a bit confusing, because it conforms to JavaScript's JSON API.

var collection = new Backbone.Collection([
  {name: "Tim", age: 5},
  {name: "Ida", age: 26},
  {name: "Rob", age: 55}


Underscore Methods (25)
Backbone proxies to Underscore.js to provide 25 iteration functions on Backbone.Collection. They aren't all documented here, but you can take a look at the Underscore documentation for the full details…

Books.each(function(book) {

var titles = {
  return book.get("title");

var publishedBooks = Books.filter(function(book) {
  return book.get("published") === true;

var alphabetical = Books.sortBy(function(book) {

addcollection.add(models, [options])
Add a model (or an array of models) to the collection. Fires an "add" event, which you can pass {silent: true} to suppress. If a model property is defined, you may also pass raw attributes objects, and have them be vivified as instances of the model. Pass {at: index} to splice the model into the collection at the specified index.

var ships = new Backbone.Collection;

ships.bind("add", function(ship) {
  alert("Ahoy " + ship.get("name") + "!");

  {name: "Flying Dutchman"},
  {name: "Black Pearl"}

removecollection.remove(models, [options])
Remove a model (or an array of models) from the collection. Fires a "remove" event, which you can use silent to suppress.

Get a model from a collection, specified by id.

var book = Library.get(110);

Get a model from a collection, specified by client id. The client id is the .cid property of the model, automatically assigned whenever a model is created. Useful for models which have not yet been saved to the server, and do not yet have true ids.
Get a model from a collection, specified by index. Useful if your collection is sorted, and if your collection isn't sorted, at will still retrieve models in insertion order.

Like an array, a Collection maintains a length property, counting the number of models it contains.

By default there is no comparator function on a collection. If you define a comparator, it will be used to maintain the collection in sorted order. This means that as models are added, they are inserted at the correct index in collection.models. Comparator functions take a model and return a numeric or string value by which the model should be ordered relative to others.

Note how even though all of the chapters in this example are added backwards, they come out in the proper order:

var Chapter  = Backbone.Model;
var chapters = new Backbone.Collection;

chapters.comparator = function(chapter) {
  return chapter.get("page");

chapters.add(new Chapter({page: 9, title: "The End"}));
chapters.add(new Chapter({page: 5, title: "The Middle"}));
chapters.add(new Chapter({page: 1, title: "The Beginning"}));


Brief aside: This comparator function is different than JavaScript's regular "sort", which must return 0, 1, or -1, and is more similar to a sortBy — a much nicer API.

Force a collection to re-sort itself. You don't need to call this under normal circumstances, as a collection with a comparator function will maintain itself in proper sort order at all times. Calling sort triggers the collection's "reset" event, unless silenced by passing {silent: true}

Pluck an attribute from each model in the collection. Equivalent to calling map, and returning a single attribute from the iterator.

var stooges = new Backbone.Collection([
  new Backbone.Model({name: "Curly"}),
  new Backbone.Model({name: "Larry"}),
  new Backbone.Model({name: "Moe"})

var names = stooges.pluck("name");


urlcollection.url or collection.url()
Set the url property (or function) on a collection to reference its location on the server. Models within the collection will use url to construct URLs of their own.

var Notes = Backbone.Collection.extend({
  url: '/notes'

// Or, something more sophisticated:

var Notes = Backbone.Collection.extend({
  url: function() {
    return this.document.url() + '/notes';

parse is called by Backbone whenever a collection's models are returned by the server, in fetch. The function is passed the raw response object, and should return the array of model attributes to be added to the collection. The default implementation is a no-op, simply passing through the JSON response. Override this if you need to work with a preexisting API, or better namespace your responses.

var Tweets = Backbone.Collection.extend({
  // The Twitter Search API returns tweets under "results".
  parse: function(response) {
    return response.results;

Fetch the default set of models for this collection from the server, resetting the collection when they arrive. The options hash takes success and error callbacks which will be passed (collection, response) as arguments. When the model data returns from the server, the collection will reset. Delegates to Backbone.sync under the covers, for custom persistence strategies. The server handler for fetch requests should return a JSON array of models.

Backbone.sync = function(method, model) {
  alert(method + ": " + model.url);

var Accounts = new Backbone.Collection;
Accounts.url = '/accounts';


If you'd like to add the incoming models to the current collection, instead of replacing the collection's contents, pass {add: true} as an option to fetch.

jQuery.ajax options can also be passed directly as fetch options, so to fetch a specific page of a paginated collection: Documents.fetch({data: {page: 3}})

Note that fetch should not be used to populate collections on page load — all models needed at load time should already be bootstrapped in to place. fetch is intended for lazily-loading models for interfaces that are not needed immediately: for example, documents with collections of notes that may be toggled open and closed.

resetcollection.reset(models, [options])
Adding and removing models one at a time is all well and good, but sometimes you have so many models to change that you'd rather just update the collection in bulk. Use reset to replace a collection with a new list of models (or attribute hashes), triggering a single "reset" event at the end. Pass {silent: true} to suppress the "reset" event. Using reset with no arguments is useful as a way to empty the collection.

Here's an example using reset to bootstrap a collection during initial page load, in a Rails application.

  Accounts.reset(<%= @accounts.to_json %>);

Calling collection.reset() without passing any models as arguments will empty the entire collection.

createcollection.create(attributes, [options])
Convenience to create a new instance of a model within a collection. Equivalent to instantiating a model with a hash of attributes, saving the model to the server, and adding the model to the set after being successfully created. Returns the model, or false if a validation error prevented the model from being created. In order for this to work, you should set the model property of the collection. The create method can accept either an attributes hash or an existing, unsaved model object.

var Library = Backbone.Collection.extend({
  model: Book

var NYPL = new Library;

var othello = NYPL.create({
  title: "Othello",
  author: "William Shakespeare"


Web applications often choose to change their URL fragment (#fragment) in order to provide shareable, bookmarkable URLs for an Ajax-heavy application. Backbone.Router provides methods for routing client-side URL fragments, and connecting them to actions and events.

During page load, after your application has finished creating all of its routers, be sure to call Backbone.history.start(), or Backbone.history.start({pushState: true}) to route the initial URL.

extendBackbone.Router.extend(properties, [classProperties])
Get started by creating a custom router class. You'll want to define actions that are triggered when certain URL fragments are matched, and provide a routes hash that pairs routes to actions.

var Workspace = Backbone.Router.extend({

  routes: {
    "help":                 "help",    // #help
    "search/:query":        "search",  // #search/kiwis
    "search/:query/p:page": "search"   // #search/kiwis/p7

  help: function() {

  search: function(query, page) {


The routes hash maps URLs with parameters to functions on your router, similar to the View's events hash. Routes can contain parameter parts, :param, which match a single URL component between slashes; and splat parts *splat, which can match any number of URL components.

For example, a route of "search/:query/p:page" will match a fragment of #search/obama/p2, passing "obama" and "2" to the action. A route of "file/*path" will match #file/nested/folder/file.txt, passing "nested/folder/file.txt" to the action.

When the visitor presses the back button, or enters a URL, and a particular route is matched, the name of the action will be fired as an event, so that other objects can listen to the router, and be notified. In the following example, visiting #help/uploading will fire a route:help event from the router.

routes: {
  "help/:page":         "help",
  "download/*path":     "download",
  "folder/:name":       "openFolder",
  "folder/:name-:mode": "openFolder"
router.bind("route:help", function(page) {

constructor / initializenew Router([options])
When creating a new router, you may pass its routes hash directly as an option, if you choose. All options will also be passed to your initialize function, if defined.

routerouter.route(route, name, callback)
Manually create a route for the router, The route argument may be a routing string or regular expression. Each matching capture from the route or regular expression will be passed as an argument to the callback. The name argument will be triggered as a "route:name" event whenever the route is matched.

initialize: function(options) {

  // Matches #page/10, passing "10"
  this.route("page/:number", "page", function(number){ ... });

  // Matches /117-a/b/c/open, passing "117-a/b/c"
  this.route(/^(.*?)\/open$/, "open", function(id){ ... });


navigaterouter.navigate(fragment, [triggerRoute])
Whenever you reach a point in your application that you'd like to save as a URL, call navigate in order to update the URL. If you wish to also call the route function, pass triggerRoute.

openPage: function(pageNumber) {;
  this.navigate("page/" + pageNumber);

# Or ...

app.navigate("help/troubleshooting", true);


History serves as a global router (per frame) to handle hashchange events or pushState, match the appropriate route, and trigger callbacks. You shouldn't ever have to create one of these yourself — you should use the reference to Backbone.history that will be created for you automatically if you make use of Routers with routes.

pushState support exists on a purely opt-in basis in Backbone. Older browsers that don't support pushState will continue to use hash-based URL fragments, and if a hash URL is visited by a pushState-capable browser, it will be transparently upgraded to the true URL. Note that using real URLs requires your web server to be able to correctly render those pages, so back-end changes are required as well. For example, if you have a route of /documents/100, your web server must be able to serve that page, if the browser visits that URL directly. For full search-engine crawlability, it's best to have the server generate the complete HTML for the page ... but if it's a web application, just rendering the same content you would have for the root URL, and filling in the rest with Backbone Views and JavaScript works fine.

When all of your Routers have been created, and all of the routes are set up properly, call Backbone.history.start() to begin monitoring hashchange events, and dispatching routes.

To indicate that you'd like to use HTML5 pushState support in your application, use Backbone.history.start({pushState: true}).

If your application is not being served from the root url / of your domain, be sure to tell History where the root really is, as an option: Backbone.history.start({pushState: true, root: "/public/search/"})

When called, if a route succeeds with a match for the current URL, Backbone.history.start() returns true. If no defined route matches the current URL, it returns false.

  new WorkspaceRouter();
  new HelpPaneRouter();
  Backbone.history.start({pushState: true});


Backbone.sync is the function that Backbone calls every time it attempts to read or save a model to the server. By default, it uses (jQuery/Zepto).ajax to make a RESTful JSON request. You can override it in order to use a different persistence strategy, such as WebSockets, XML transport, or Local Storage.

The method signature of Backbone.sync is sync(method, model, [options])

With the default implementation, when Backbone.sync sends up a request to save a model, its attributes will be passed, serialized as JSON, and sent in the HTTP body with content-type application/json. When returning a JSON response, send down the attributes of the model that have been changed by the server, and need to be updated on the client. When responding to a "read" request from a collection (Collection#fetch), send down an array of model attribute objects.

The default sync handler maps CRUD to REST like so:

As an example, a Rails handler responding to an "update" call from Backbone might look like this: (In real code, never use update_attributes blindly, and always whitelist the attributes you allow to be changed.)

def update
  account = Account.find params[:id]
  account.update_attributes params
  render :json => account

One more tip for Rails integration is to disable the default namespacing for to_json calls on models by setting ActiveRecord::Base.include_root_in_json = false

emulateHTTPBackbone.emulateHTTP = true
If you want to work with a legacy web server that doesn't support Backbones's default REST/HTTP approach, you may choose to turn on Backbone.emulateHTTP. Setting this option will fake PUT and DELETE requests with a HTTP POST, and pass them under the _method parameter. Setting this option will also set an X-HTTP-Method-Override header with the true method.

Backbone.emulateHTTP = true;;  // POST to "/collection/id", with "_method=PUT" + header.

emulateJSONBackbone.emulateJSON = true
If you're working with a legacy web server that can't handle requests encoded as application/json, setting Backbone.emulateJSON = true; will cause the JSON to be serialized under a model parameter, and the request to be made with a application/x-www-form-urlencoded mime type, as if from an HTML form.


Backbone views are almost more convention than they are code — they don't determine anything about your HTML or CSS for you, and can be used with any JavaScript templating library. The general idea is to organize your interface into logical views, backed by models, each of which can be updated independently when the model changes, without having to redraw the page. Instead of digging into a JSON object, looking up an element in the DOM, and updating the HTML by hand, you can bind your view's render function to the model's "change" event — and now everywhere that model data is displayed in the UI, it is always immediately up to date.

extendBackbone.View.extend(properties, [classProperties])
Get started with views by creating a custom view class. You'll want to override the render function, specify your declarative events, and perhaps the tagName, className, or id of the View's root element.

var DocumentRow = Backbone.View.extend({

  tagName: "li",

  className: "document-row",

  events: {
    "click .icon":          "open",
    "click .button.edit":   "openEditDialog",
    "click .button.delete": "destroy"

  render: function() {


constructor / initializenew View([options])
When creating a new View, the options you pass are attached to the view as this.options, for future reference. There are several special options that, if passed, will be attached directly to the view: model, collection, el, id, className, and tagName. If the view defines an initialize function, it will be called when the view is first created. If you'd like to create a view that references an element already in the DOM, pass in the element as an option: new View({el: existingElement})

var doc = Documents.first();

new DocumentRow({
  model: doc,
  id: "document-row-" +

All views have a DOM element at all times (the el property), whether they've already been inserted into the page or not. In this fashion, views can be rendered at any time, and inserted into the DOM all at once, in order to get high-performance UI rendering with as few reflows and repaints as possible. this.el is created from the view's tagName, className, and id properties, if specified. If not, el is an empty div.

You may assign el directly if the view is being created for an element that already exists in the DOM. Use either a reference to a real DOM element, or a css selector string.

var ItemView = Backbone.View.extend({
  tagName: 'li'

var BodyView = Backbone.View.extend({
  el: 'body'

var item = new ItemView();
var body = new BodyView();

alert(item.el + ' ' + body.el);

$ (jQuery or Zepto)view.$(selector)
If jQuery or Zepto is included on the page, each view has a $ function that runs queries scoped within the view's element. If you use this scoped jQuery function, you don't have to use model ids as part of your query to pull out specific elements in a list, and can rely much more on HTML class attributes. It's equivalent to running: $(selector, this.el)

ui.Chapter = Backbone.View.extend({
  serialize : function() {
    return {
      title: this.$(".title").text(),
      start: this.$(".start-page").text(),
      end:   this.$(".end-page").text()

The default implementation of render is a no-op. Override this function with your code that renders the view template from model data, and updates this.el with the new HTML. A good convention is to return this at the end of render to enable chained calls.

var Bookmark = Backbone.View.extend({
  render: function() {
    return this;

Backbone is agnostic with respect to your preferred method of HTML templating. Your render function could even munge together an HTML string, or use document.createElement to generate a DOM tree. However, we suggest choosing a nice JavaScript templating library. Mustache.js, Haml-js, and Eco are all fine alternatives. Because Underscore.js is already on the page, _.template is available, and is an excellent choice if you've already XSS-sanitized your interpolated data.

Whatever templating strategy you end up with, it's nice if you never have to put strings of HTML in your JavaScript. At DocumentCloud, we use Jammit in order to package up JavaScript templates stored in /app/views as part of our main core.js asset package.

Convenience function for removing the view from the DOM. Equivalent to calling $(view.el).remove();

makeview.make(tagName, [attributes], [content])
Convenience function for creating a DOM element of the given type (tagName), with optional attributes and HTML content. Used internally to create the initial view.el.

var view = new Backbone.View;

var el = view.make("b", {className: "bold"}, "Bold! ");


Uses jQuery's delegate function to provide declarative callbacks for DOM events within a view. If an events hash is not passed directly, uses as the source. Events are written in the format {"event selector": "callback"}. Omitting the selector causes the event to be bound to the view's root element (this.el). By default, delegateEvents is called within the View's constructor for you, so if you have a simple events hash, all of your DOM events will always already be connected, and you will never have to call this function yourself.

Using delegateEvents provides a number of advantages over manually using jQuery to bind events to child elements during render. All attached callbacks are bound to the view before being handed off to jQuery, so when the callbacks are invoked, this continues to refer to the view object. When delegateEvents is run again, perhaps with a different events hash, all callbacks are removed and delegated afresh — useful for views which need to behave differently when in different modes.

A view that displays a document in a search result might look something like this:

var DocumentView = Backbone.View.extend({

  events: {
    "dblclick"                : "open",
    "click .icon.doc"         : "select",
    "contextmenu .icon.doc"   : "showMenu",
    "click .show_notes"       : "toggleNotes",
    "click .title .lock"      : "editAccessLevel",
    "mouseover .title .date"  : "showTooltip"

  render: function() {
    return this;

  open: function() {"viewer_url"));

  select: function() {
    this.model.set({selected: true});



Utility Functions

noConflictvar backbone = Backbone.noConflict();
Returns the Backbone object back to its original value. You can use the return value of Backbone.noConflict() to keep a local reference to Backbone. Useful for embedding Backbone on third-party websites, where you don't want to clobber the existing Backbone.

var localBackbone = Backbone.noConflict();
var model = localBackbone.Model.extend(...);


Jérôme Gravel-Niquet has contributed a Todo List application that is bundled in the repository as Backbone example. If you're wondering where to get started with Backbone in general, take a moment to read through the annotated source. The app uses a LocalStorage adapter to transparently save all of your todos within your browser, instead of sending them to a server. Jérôme also has a version hosted at that uses a MooTools-backed version of Backbone instead of jQuery.



The DocumentCloud workspace is built on Backbone.js, with Documents, Projects, Notes, and Accounts all as Backbone models and collections. If you're interested in history — both Underscore.js and Backbone.js were originally extracted from the DocumentCloud codebase, and packaged into standalone JS libraries.

DocumentCloud Workspace

Basecamp Mobile

37Signals used Backbone.js to create Basecamp Mobile, the mobile version of their popular project management software. You can access all your Basecamp projects, post new messages, and comment on milestones (all represented internally as Backbone.js models).

Basecamp Mobile


MetaLab used Backbone.js to create Flow, a task management app for teams. The workspace relies on Backbone.js to construct task views, activities, accounts, folders, projects, and tags. You can see the internals under window.Flow.



Trajectory is an agile software planning tool used to discuss wireframes, record decisions made, relate user stories and bugs to discussions, and track your progress and plan the future. With Rails on the backend, Trajectory uses Backbone.js heavily to provide a fluid story planning interface that even updates in real-time based on the actions of other users.



CloudApp is simple file and link sharing for the Mac. Backbone.js powers the web tools which consume the documented API to manage Drops. Data is either pulled manually or pushed by Pusher and fed to Mustache templates for rendering. Check out the annotated source code to see the magic.



SoundCloud is the leading sound sharing platform on the internet, and Backbone.js provides the foundation for Mobile SoundCloud. The project uses the public SoundCloud API as a data source (channeled through a nginx proxy), jQuery templates for the rendering, Qunit and PhantomJS for the testing suite. The JS code, templates and CSS are built for the production deployment with various Node.js tools like ready.js, Jake, jsdom. The Backbone.History was modified to support the HTML5 history.pushState. Backbone.sync was extended with an additional SessionStorage based cache layer.



SeatGeek's stadium ticket maps were originally developed with Prototype.js. Moving to Backbone.js and jQuery helped organize a lot of the UI code, and the increased structure has made adding features a lot easier. SeatGeek is also in the process of building a mobile interface that will be Backbone.js from top to bottom.


Quote Roller

Coding Staff used Backbone.js to create Quote Roller, an application that helps to create, send, organize and track business proposals with ease. Backbone.js has been used to implement interactive parts of the application like template builder, pricing table, file attachments manager.

Quote Roller


Our fellow Knight Foundation News Challenge winners, MapBox, created an open-source map design studio with Backbone.js: TileMill. TileMill lets you manage map layers based on shapefiles and rasters, and edit their appearance directly in the browser with the Carto styling language. Note that the gorgeous MapBox homepage is also a Backbone.js app.


Menagerie Whiteboard

Aaron Hamid and Michal Kuklis from Incandescent Software used Backbone.js to create Menagerie Whiteboard a digital "whiteboard" for veterinary practices. Backbone Models were used to sync the data with CouchDB. A Backbone Controller was used for routing and bookmarkable deep links. Backbone Views were used to bind, listen and 'react' to changes coming from models. Backbone.sync was extended to support connection to CouchDB and deployment as a CouchApp.



Elliott Kember and Hector Simpson built Insta-great! - a fun way to explore popular photos and interact with Instagram on the web. Elliott says, "Backbone.js and Coffeescript were insanely useful for writing clean, consistent UI code and keeping everything modular and readable, even through several code refactors. I'm in love."

Decide helps people decide when to buy consumer electronics. It relies heavily on Backbone.js to render and update its Search Results Page. An "infinite scroll" feature takes advantage of a SearchResults model containing a collection of Product models to fetch more results and render them on the fly with Mustache. A SearchController keeps everything in sync and maintains page state in the URL. Backbone also powers the user accounts and settings management.



BitTorrent used Backbone to completely rework an existing Win32 UI. Models normalize access to the client's data and views rely heavily on the change events to keep the UI state current. Using Backbone and SCSS, our new design and UX prototypes are considerably easier to iterate, test and work with than the original Win32 UI.



Trapit brings the web to you, scouring the web on your behalf, 24/7. The product, currently in private beta, uses Backbone to organize the best, most relevant content into individual "traps" on your favorite topics and interests.



Fluxiom uses Backbone.js and HTML5 to deliver a seamless upload experience from the desktop to the cloud, including drag and drop, live previews, partial uploads, and one-click sharing.

The upload queue is a single collection and each file is it’s own model. The UI is divided into several views for efficient event handling, and uses Underscore.js templates for fast rendering, even when handling hundreds of uploads.



Chop is a little app from ZURB that lets people slice up bad code and share their feedback to help put it back together. Chop was built to demonstrate how easy it is to build pageless apps using Backbone.js and Rails. Chop makes extensive use of Backbone Views, Controllers, and Models.



James Yu used Backbone.js to create QuietWrite, an app that gives writers a clean and quiet interface to concentrate on the text itself. The editor relies on Backbone to persist document data to the server. He followed up with a Backbone.js + Rails tutorial that describes how to implement CloudEdit, a simple document editing app.



Cristi Balan and Irina Dumitrascu created Tzigla, a collaborative drawing application where artists make tiles that connect to each other to create surreal drawings. Backbone models help organize the code, routers provide bookmarkable deep links, and the views are rendered with haml.js and Zepto. Tzigla is written in Ruby (Rails) on the backend, and CoffeeScript on the frontend, with Jammit prepackaging the static assets.



Michael Aufreiter is building an open source document authoring and publishing engine: Substance. Substance makes use of Backbone.View and Backbone.Router, while Backbone plays well together with Data.js, which is used for data persistence.



Catalog of Events
Here's a list of all of the built-in events that Backbone.js can fire. You're also free to trigger your own events on Models and Views as you see fit.

Nested Models & Collections
It's common to nest collections inside of models with Backbone. For example, consider a Mailbox model that contains many Message models. One nice pattern for handling this is have a this.messages collection for each mailbox, enabling the lazy-loading of messages, when the mailbox is first opened ... perhaps with MessageList views listening for "add" and "remove" events.

var Mailbox = Backbone.Model.extend({

  initialize: function() {
    this.messages = new Messages;
    this.messages.url = '/mailbox/' + + '/messages';
    this.messages.bind("reset", this.updateCounts);



var Inbox = new Mailbox;

// And then, when the Inbox is opened:


If you're looking for something more opinionated, there are a number of Backbone plugins that add sophisticated associations among models, available on the wiki.

Loading Bootstrapped Models
When your app first loads, it's common to have a set of initial models that you know you're going to need, in order to render the page. Instead of firing an extra AJAX request to fetch them, a nicer pattern is to have their data already bootstrapped into the page. You can then use reset to populate your collections with the initial data. At DocumentCloud, in the ERB template for the workspace, we do something along these lines:

  Accounts.reset(<%= @accounts.to_json %>);
  Projects.reset(<%= @projects.to_json(:collaborators => true) %>);

How does Backbone relate to "traditional" MVC?
Different implementations of the Model-View-Controller pattern tend to disagree about the definition of a controller. If it helps any, in Backbone, the View class can also be thought of as a kind of controller, dispatching events that originate from the UI, with the HTML template serving as the true view. We call it a View because it represents a logical chunk of UI, responsible for the contents of a single DOM element.

Comparing the overall structure of Backbone to a server-side MVC framework like Rails, the pieces line up like so:

Binding "this"
Perhaps the single most common JavaScript "gotcha" is the fact that when you pass a function as a callback, its value for this is lost. With Backbone, when dealing with events and callbacks, you'll often find it useful to rely on _.bind and _.bindAll from Underscore.js.

When binding callbacks to Backbone events, you can choose to pass an optional third argument to specify the this that will be used when the callback is later invoked:

var MessageList = Backbone.View.extend({

  initialize: function() {
    var messages = this.collection;
    messages.bind("reset", this.render, this);
    messages.bind("add", this.addMessage, this);
    messages.bind("remove", this.removeMessage, this);


// Later, in the app...


Change Log

0.5.2July 26, 2011
The bind function, can now take an optional third argument, to specify the this of the callback function. Multiple models with the same id are now allowed in a collection. Fixed a bug where calling .fetch(jQueryOptions) could cause an incorrect URL to be serialized. Fixed a brief extra route fire before redirect, when degrading from pushState.

0.5.1July 5, 2011
Cleanups from the 0.5.0 release, to wit: improved transparent upgrades from hash-based URLs to pushState, and vice-versa. Fixed inconsistency with non-modified attributes being passed to Model#initialize. Reverted a 0.5.0 change that would strip leading hashbangs from routes. Added contains as an alias for includes.

0.5.0July 1, 2011
A large number of tiny tweaks and micro bugfixes, best viewed by looking at the commit diff. HTML5 pushState support, enabled by opting-in with: Backbone.history.start({pushState: true}). Controller was renamed to Router, for clarity. Collection#refresh was renamed to Collection#reset to emphasize its ability to both reset the collection with new models, as well as empty out the collection when used with no parameters. saveLocation was replaced with navigate. RESTful persistence methods (save, fetch, etc.) now return the jQuery deferred object for further success/error chaining and general convenience. Improved XSS escaping for Model#escape. Added a urlRoot option to allow specifying RESTful urls without the use of a collection. An error is thrown if Backbone.history.start is called multiple times. Collection#create now validates before initializing the new model. view.el can now be a jQuery string lookup. Backbone Views can now also take an attributes parameter. Model#defaults can now be a function as well as a literal attributes object.

0.3.3Dec 1, 2010
Backbone.js now supports Zepto, alongside jQuery, as a framework for DOM manipulation and Ajax support. Implemented Model#escape, to efficiently handle attributes intended for HTML interpolation. When trying to persist a model, failed requests will now trigger an "error" event. The ubiquitous options argument is now passed as the final argument to all "change" events.

0.3.2Nov 23, 2010
Bugfix for IE7 + iframe-based "hashchange" events. sync may now be overridden on a per-model, or per-collection basis. Fixed recursion error when calling save with no changed attributes, within a "change" event.

0.3.1Nov 15, 2010
All "add" and "remove" events are now sent through the model, so that views can listen for them without having to know about the collection. Added a remove method to Backbone.View. toJSON is no longer called at all for 'read' and 'delete' requests. Backbone routes are now able to load empty URL fragments.

0.3.0Nov 9, 2010
Backbone now has Controllers and History, for doing client-side routing based on URL fragments. Added emulateHTTP to provide support for legacy servers that don't do PUT and DELETE. Added emulateJSON for servers that can't accept application/json encoded requests. Added Model#clear, which removes all attributes from a model. All Backbone classes may now be seamlessly inherited by CoffeeScript classes.

0.2.0Oct 25, 2010
Instead of requiring server responses to be namespaced under a model key, now you can define your own parse method to convert responses into attributes for Models and Collections. The old handleEvents function is now named delegateEvents, and is automatically called as part of the View's constructor. Added a toJSON function to Collections. Added Underscore's chain to Collections.

0.1.2Oct 19, 2010
Added a Model#fetch method for refreshing the attributes of single model from the server. An error callback may now be passed to set and save as an option, which will be invoked if validation fails, overriding the "error" event. You can now tell backbone to use the _method hack instead of HTTP methods by setting Backbone.emulateHTTP = true. Existing Model and Collection data is no longer sent up unnecessarily with GET and DELETE requests. Added a rake lint task. Backbone is now published as an NPM module.

0.1.1Oct 14, 2010
Added a convention for initialize functions to be called upon instance construction, if defined. Documentation tweaks.

0.1.0Oct 13, 2010
Initial Backbone release.

A DocumentCloud Project