John Otander

Getting Started with Ember JS Generators

I was intrigued by the notion of this client-side framework trend, and felt like Ember might be a good fit. The documentation is great, their website is easy on the eyes, and it seemed to be a very opinionated framework. Coming from a Rails background, it sounded familiar. So, I decided to give it a try.

After going through the Ember tutorial, I figured I was ready to take on an app with things components filed away in their own compartments, rather than a huge app.js file. Since I’m lazy and used to Rails scaffolding, that meant it was time to track down a generator. Yeoman fit the bill perfectly, and is the go-to for the majority of the front end community.

Get started by generating the Ember app with Yeoman.

First, we need to install npm since Yeoman is an node package.

Installing npm

Getting the Node package manager is a breeze to install with homebrew:

$ brew install node

Now you will have access to the many goodies in the Node community, one of which we will now install, Yeoman.

Installing Yeoman

$ npm install -g yo

The -g option makes the yo command globally accessible, this will come in handy when we run the generators later.

Installing app generator for Ember

Now it’s time to install the ember generator, so we can scaffold out a basic app in a single command, similar to $ rails new.

$ npm install -g generator-ember

Time to generate an example app

First, create a directory and cd into it. Yeoman will infer the application name from the name of the directory in which you reside, so keep hat in mind when naming your directory.

$ mkdir ember-example-tdd && cd ember-example-tdd

Now, we can generate apps with a simple command:

$ yo ember

Similarly to Rails Composer, it will ask a few questions about the configuration you prefer, whether you want Twitter Bootstrap or not, etc. Oh, and ascii art.

    |       |
    |--(o)--|   .--------------------------.
   `---------´  |    Welcome to Yeoman,    |
    ( _´U`_ )   |   ladies and gentlemen!  |
    /___A___\   '__________________________'
     |  ~  |
 ´   `  |° ´ Y `

What’s this thing called Bower?

The app will be scaffolded out, and then bower install is run automatically to install any new dependencies. For the Rails folk, it’s like bundler, but for the front end.

Using Grunt

Yeoman also installs Grunt and adds a Gruntfile.js. Grunt is similar to rake, a way to automate tasks.

$ grunt test

This will run your test suite, which is currently just stubbed out. We will add to it later.

$ grunt serve

This will enable live reload, build the project, open the serve, and open up a browser tab with localhost:9000 in the URL. There are also other tasks included for minifying assets, cleaning assets, watching sass files, etc. We’ll get to those in a later post.

The generated Ember app

The generator essentially leaves us with an ApplicationRoute:

ExampleEmberTddApp.ApplicationRoute = Ember.Route.extend({
  model: function() {
    return ['red', 'yellow', 'blue']

And a template:

<div class="col-md-3">
  <div class="well sidebar-nav">
    <ul class="list-group">
      {{#each item in controller}}
      <li class="list-group-item">{{item}}</li>
<div class="col-md-9">

Awesome. It works, has build tasks, and a test suite stubbed out (the default is mocha). Luckily for us, there’s even more:

Generating a model

We can generate a model in a single command, and specify it’s attributes while we’re at it.

$ yo ember:model User firstName:string lastName:string email:string

This creates and index at /#/users, individual user shows at /#/users/:user_id, and an edit action. It also creates some fixture data so we can ensure everything is working as intended.

That’s not all, either.

See the documentation for even more functionality, including view and controller generators.

Just like that, I’m able to develop a reasonable workflow for a framework that I’m still wrapping my head around. Pretty frictionless. Though I believe generators are invaluable during the learning process to see how the framework is intended to function, illustrating their development paradigm.

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