mast

Convention-over-configuration framework for Backbone.js

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Mast: Sails

What is Mast?

The productivity-enhancing front-end library for Sails. Mast was built from the ground up for creating realtime web applications that work with handsets, tablets, and PC browers. Like Sails, Mast is a collection of the latest stable versions of really great libraries, in this case Backbone.js, jQuery, and Socket.io.

Why Bother?

With Mast, building the front-end for your app is faster, 'funner' and requires fewer lines of code.

A Realtime App in < 50 Lines of Code

// This Collection is synced with the server
Mast.registerCollection('Leaders',{
  url        : '/leader',
    model    : {
        defaults: {                // Fields specified exclusively on the client are not shared
            highlight: false
        }
    },
    comparator: function(model) {
        return -model.get('votes');
    }
});

// This Tree brings life to the leaderboard and its items
Mast.registerTree('LeaderBoard',{
    template        : '.template-leaderboard',  // Identify an HTML template to represent the leaderboard frame
    model            : {
        selected: null
    },
    collection      : 'Leaders',                // Associate a collection with the leaderboard
    branchComponent : 'LeaderBoardItem',        // An instance of branchComponent will be created for each item in the collection
    branchOutlet    : '.item-outlet',           // A CSS selector, automatically scoped within the component, to identify where new branches should be appended
    events: {
        'click a.add-points' : 'add5Points'     // Add 5 points to the selected Leader
    },
    init: function(){
        this.collection.fetch();
    },
    add5Points: function (){
        this.get('selected').increment('votes',5);
        this.get('selected').save();
        this.collection.sort();
    }
});

// This component represents a single row of the leaderboard
Mast.registerComponent('LeaderBoardItem',{
    template  : '.template-leaderboard-item',   // Identify an HTML template to represent each leaderboard item
    events    : {
        click : 'select'
    },
    select: function () {                     // When an item is clicked on, mark it as selected
        this.parent.get('selected') && this.parent.get('selected').set('highlight',false);
        this.set('highlight',true);
        this.parent.set('selected',this);
    }
});

And here's an example of the server-side, assuming you're using Sails:

/models/Leader.js

Leader = Model.extend({
  title    : STRING,
  votes  : { type: INT, defaultValue: 0 }
});

That's it!

Key Benefits

  • Convention over configuration.

    • assumes reasonable defaults to make getting an app off the ground as painless as possible
    • for every assumption, Sails provides an override, allowing you to get as customized as you like
  • Live page updates.

    • changing the Model changes the screen
    • automatic event binding and templating
    • sane rendering defaults help you get up and running fast
    • when you're ready, and if performance demands it, override default rendering with your own custom methods
  • WebSockets first.

    • uses Socket.io for all server communication
    • when WebSockets is not available, Socket.io falls back to other transports:
      • Adobe Flash Socket
      • AJAX long polling
      • AJAX multipart streaming
      • Forever iframe
      • JSONP polling
  • Latency compensation.

    • when a change is made, the DOM is updated automatically, preventing most common UI race conditions
    • display a customizable loading spinner as soon as changes are initiated
    • when the server confirms that a change was made to the persistent model, a trappable event is fired, and the DOM updates again
  • Built-in authentication.

    • all server-side communication, even the simplest, runs through Sails' authentication system
    • role-based security is built in through a simple config file (permissions.js)
    • more advanced security schemes can be injected using standard ExpressJS middleware semantics
  • Dependency management.

    • unlike Backbone alone, Mast definitions are commutative (order doesn't matter)
    • also keeps track of dependencies and inheritance relationships
    • that means you can put your code into one -or- multiple files and import them any way you like

How It Works

At its core, Mast is made up of Components, Models, and Collections. Components are very closely related to Backbone Views, and Models and Collections are exactly like their Backbone equivalents.

Mast introduces the concept of a Component, which is a minimal logical UI element which completely abstracts DOM templating. When you change the model, or change the template, for a component, it just works-- the screen automatically gets updated.

Mast also enhances jQuery's DOM events by adding "pressEnter", "pressEscape", and "clickoutside", as well as providing access to global events, like $(window).scroll, from the events hash (no more worrying about whether the element you're binding to has focus or not!).

Docs

See the Wiki.

Who Built This?

The Sails framework, including Mast, Rigging, and other related packages, are jointly developed and supported by Mike McNeil and Balderdash Design Co. Balderdashs build wonderful web apps as a service, and after much frustration, we built Sails to use on our customers' projects. Naturally, we open-sourced it. Hopefully, it makes your life a little bit easier!

The MIT License (MIT)

Copyright © 2012 Mike McNeil

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED “AS IS”, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

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