Forward Advance Learning

Backbone Models

A model in Backbone is where we store our data. We create our model by inheriting from (extending) Backbone.Model.

Extend is an underscore function that simply creates a new object using the provided object as a prototype. If JavaScript was a classical language, we'd be creating an instance of the BAckbone.Model class.

Shark = Backbone.Model.extend();
var shark = new Shark();

Initialising the model

We can initialise our model with some values by passing in a JSON object, like so:

var shark = new Shark({
latitude: 45,
name: 'Theophilus T. Shark'

Setting attributes on the model

We can set attributes on our model using the set function.

shark.set('name', 'Lennie');

We can also set multiple attributes at the same time:

name: 'Lennie',
age: 9.5

Getting values from the model

We can get values back out of the model using the get function:


Why Do We Need .set & .get Functions?

We typically set and get attributes on a JavaScript object using the dot notation, like this: = 'Lennie';
console.log(; // Outputs 'Lennie'

With Backbone we set and get attributes using .set and .get, like this.

shark.set('name', 'Lennie');
console.log(shark.get('name')); // Outputs 'Lennie'

The set function does 3 things:

  1. It sets the value as an attribute of the attributes object in your model, avoiding namespace collisions with functions defined by the Model prototype.
  2. It triggers a 'change' event on the model. Our views can listen out for the change event and optionally redraw themselves.
  3. It triggers a 'change' event on any collection that the model is part of. Again, any Views listening to the collection will be notified.

Using .set allows us to trigger events and wire our app together using listeners. This prevents spaghettification.

Using .get allows us to pull attributes from the shark.attributes object without our code explicitly referencing it.

Initializing Models

When we first define our shark, we can pass in an object which will define it. For example:

Setting defaults

We can set default values for our shark by passing in a defaults object:

var Shark = Backbone.Model.extend({
defaults: {
name: 'Mr Shark',
age: 0
var shark = new Shark();
alert(shark.get('name')); // Outputs "Mr Shark"

Exercise - Make a Model

Choose a real world object you might like to represent, for example a death ray, a kitten or a piece of toast.

This will form the basis of your app. Don't worry too much, it will be easy to change your mind later.

Whatever you choose, it should have attributes (eg name, age, color, weight, etc) and abilities, eg. miow, moveNorth, or explode.

Note. Throughout these exercises I will assume your model is a Cat. Don't do a Cat, use your imagination instead, you'll learn more.

Create a model

Create a Backbone model to represent your object.

Instantiate your model using 'new' to create an instance of your model.

Setting and getting values

Use the .set method to set a value on your model. Use the .get method to pull the value back out again and alert it (optionally do this in the console).

Try setting and getting more than one attribute at once by passing a JSON object.

Check out the cid.


Give your model an .initialize method that alerts "hello model" to the screen.


Give your model some sensible defaults, an empty string for name, 0 for age, etc.


Check out the underscore methods:

  • keys
  • values
  • pairs
  • has
  • clone


Read up on Backbone models here