What SHOULD MVC be for Javascript? Towards other JS MVC ideas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

With all the trouble I've been having with Backbone.js lately, I've decided to take a step back and look at my attempts from a higher level. Using a framework shouldn't be this difficult! Why, then, am I having so much difficulty? I've decided that it is because my idea of "Javascript's version of MVC" is misbased. Therefore, I've decided to start looking at the whole spectrum of Javascript frameworks - Backbone, Spine, Knockout, and JavascriptMVC (did I miss any other major ones?).

Addy Osmani (not quite sure why he's famous, but he's skilled at explaining these frameworks from a high-level) recommends JavascriptMVC, because it is the "most comprehensive" and mature framework at the moment. I hope the community is friendly, because I've decided to choose this as the next stepping stone in my Javascript MVC studies. I hope the people that created it were educated enough to use intuitive object names and abstractions, as I'll need them to improve my understanding.

When reading this introduction to JavascriptMVC, I've been inspired to return to the idea of an application's "state" once again. The author asserts that "The secret to building large apps is NEVER build large apps. Break up your applications into small pieces. Then, assemble those testable, bite-sized pieces into your big application." A agree completely with this! But, how can one make bite-sized Javascript pieces? Inevitably, these pieces must talk to each other, so how can we do this?

How about this idea for communicating between modules: Use the page's state variables to communicate between these pieces in a pub-sub manner. This manner is very much like how disparate computer systems communicate across the internet. The internet is probably the most modular system I am aware of, and if modularity is what you want, then using the internet's model is probably best.

So, the page's state. Would having a set of variables on your web page limit the scalability of your site? As long as you aren't transferring the state back to the server, you should be fine. As long as the web app talks back to your servers through a stateless API, you should be fine.

Great, so I can't think of any reason why we can't have a few state variables on our client-side page, so I'll try to use the state to facilitate communication between Javascript components. (If it is easy to do with JavascriptMVC that is.)

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