While everyone else is playing with React, I have spent the past year with my old trusty friend - Backbone.js. I really like Backbone. It stays out of my way and lets me get things done. Using a mature library shouldn’t mean we don’t get to play with new toys, however. I’m going to share my experiences, and hopefully encourage you to start writing Backbone.js code like this:

import { View } from 'backbone';

export default View.extend({
initialize() {
console.log('hello world');
}
});

CommonJS and Transpiling

There are a number of ways to transpile ES5 code to ES2015. I have personally found the most success with Webpack and Babel. Webpack is super powerful, unopinionated, and fast. There are a ton of plugins to help you load any kind of content as a javascript module. I know other developers have found success with Browserify as well.

ES2015 features

I do not recommend using ES2015 classes or inheritance with Backbone views, models, or collections. Weird things happen. I will not go into detail, but if you want to read more, the issues are well documented here. Continue using .extend just as you always have.

Are you tired of typing out function? You don’t have to anymore.

export default View.extend({
initialize() {
console.log('hello world');
}
});

Have you ever written var self = this;? Of course you have, you’re a JavaScript programmer. Isn’t it awful? Never do that again, because arrow functions are here to save you.

export default View.extend({
fetchData() {
this.model.fetch().done(data => {
// `this` retains context of the outer closure!
this.render(data);
});
},

render(data) {
console.log(data);
}
});

Templates

I prefer to use Handlebars.js to render templates. When I first started writing Backbone.js code, I was always faced with a difficult question:

How the heck do I load HTML templates into my JavaScript files?

Webpack loaders make this extremely easy. Go install the handlebars-loader from NPM and start doing things the easy way:

import { View } from 'backbone';
import template from './index.hbs';

export default View.extend({
template: template
});

Your Backbone.js code can benefit from ES2015 just as much as newer frameworks and libraries. If you haven’t taken the plunge yet, It’s never too late.