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What Is Backbone.js?

Backbone.js is a small JavaScript library for organizing developers’ JavaScript code. Backbone.js library is a single JavaScript file with less than 1,000 lines of JavaScript code (not including the code comments). This means Backbone.js is lightweight and easy to integrate into JavaScript-heavy applications. You can read the entire file with care in less than a couple of hours. Due to its size, Backbone.js helps keep your code readable, scalable and maintainable.

What Is Backbone.js Used For?

When you’re building complicated interfaces in the browser, you need a robust solution of maintainable and well-structured code. This is a good use case for integrating a library like Backbone.js into your project. 

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How to Use Backbone.js

Backbone.js is a library you can include on your web page with a single script tag. This front-end-oriented JavaScript library helps you add interactivity, such as event handling, to static HTML pages in a scalable fashion. 

Unlike other JavaScript libraries, such as Vue.js, Backbone.js acts as a…well…backbone to your JavaScript app by giving you ready-made models, views, collections and events.

Even though Backbone.js is a front-end library, it has some helpful back-end features for using APIs. For example, you can create, read, update and delete records from a database.

 

When to Use Backbone.js

JavaScript doesn’t enforce coding patterns. This means JavaScript projects can become unreadable and messy pretty quickly. If you’re developing a trivial JavaScript application with little code, such as a BMI index calculator, you don’t have to worry about code maintainability that much. This means you will unlikely benefit from using a library like Backbone.js.

However, let’s say you’re creating a full-scale web application business, such as the next big social media site. Backbone.js might become useful. When you build a complex interface in JavaScript without a library like Backbone.js, you’ll end up inventing the logic and functions that make up Backbone.js anyway. By this I mean that after scratching your head for hours and hours, you’ll inevitably come up with solutions that the creators of Backbone.js already made for you. This is because this particular JavaScript library comes from web developers trying to solve structural problems in bigger JavaScript codebases at scale.

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Why Use Backbone.js?

Backbone.js is quite literally the backbone of your JavaScript project. With this library, you can write code that doesn’t tangle even when the codebase grows in size and has lots of interactions.

Backbone.js separates the data from its presentation by organizing the code into logical and meaningful JavaScript files. This makes JavaScript-heavy code projects well organized and easier to maintain.

Backbone.js also works well with existing JavaScript libraries. This means you don’t have to worry about adding a new library to the codebase. Backbone.js won't interfere with other libraries you may already use, such as jQuery. Also, you can couple Backbone.js with the popular JavaScript library React using the ReactBackbone library.

When developing a JavaScript application, you’ll encounter questions like:

  • Where should I store my data?
  • Where should I place my functions?
  • How do I wire functions so that the code remains clear and the calls are made in a sensible way?
  • How do I make code maintainable for other developers that might contribute to the project?

Backbone.js answers these questions by providing you with:

  • Models and collections to assist in representing collections of data
  • Views to help you update the document object model (DOM) when data changes
  • An event system such that the JavaScript components can easily listen to one another, which prevents your code from turning into spaghetti because it keeps the parts de-coupled
  • A set of conventions that improve collaboration in case other developers contribute to the project

Because of these main features, you can also consider Backbone.js a simple MV* framework because it includes models, views and optional extra features.