2.1.0 • Public • Published

Backbone.Highway - Routing Backbone with style \o/

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Backbone.Highway wraps the Backbone.Router to simplify its use and bring new functionalities.

Added functionalities compared to the Backbone.Router are:

  • Named routes
  • Catching client-size 404
  • Before/After Middlewares
  • Before/After event triggers distributed using an event aggregator
  • Async flow control using JavaScript Promise


npm install --save backbone-highway


bower install --save backbone-highway

Getting started

Simply declare some routes using the highway.route() method and then start the router with the highway.start() method.

import highway from 'backbone-highway'
// Declare a home route
  name: 'home', // The name of the route
  path: '/', // The url to which the route will respond
  // Method to be executed when the given path is intercepted
  action (state) {
    // Do something fantastic \o/
    state.resolve() // Resolve state when execution is done
// Declare a user profile route
  name: 'profile',
  path: '/users/:id',
  action (state) {
    // Render user profile page using `` parameter
    console.log(`Executing profile controller for user#${}`)
    state.resolve() // Resolve state when execution is done
// Start the router

Declaring a route highway.route()

  name: 'profile',
  path: '/users/:id(/edit/:section)',
  action (state) {
    const { params } = state
    console.log(`Executing profile for #${} and editing section '${params.section}'`)

A route is at least composed of a name, path and action, like it is shown the example above. The name and path need to be uniq to prevent conflicting routes which can lead to unexpected behavior.

Note: The path of the route needs to be declared with a leading slash to properly work in highway. For now, the regular expression format has not been tested, it may or may not work.

The action needs to be a function which will receive an Object as its only argument. This state object will contain:

  • params with the parameters received from parsing the dynamic parts of the path.
  • resolve and reject methods to control the flow of execution of the route.

Options for the route method

  • name {string} The uniq name of the route
  • path {string} The path of the route as described in the Backbone documentation
  • action {function} The controller method for this route
  • before {array} Optional A list of events or middlewares to be executed before the action
  • after {array} Optional A list of events or middlewares to be executed after the action if it is resolved

Starting the router highway.start()

Backbone.Highway uses sensible defaults that can be overriden by passing an options object to the start method.

Here are the default options provided by the library :

  // # Backbone History options
  // Docs:
  // Use html5 pushState
  pushState: true,
  // Root url for pushState
  root: '',
  // Set to false to force page reloads for old browsers
  hashChange: true,
  // Don't trigger the initial route
  silent: false,
  // # Backbone.Highway specific options
  // Print out debug information
  debug: false,
  // Event aggregator instance
  dispatcher: null

Navigating highway.go()

Use the go method to navigate programmatically to a declared route

// Navigate to simple route using its name
// Navigate to route with parameters
highway.go({ name: 'profile', params: { id: 42 } })
// Navigate using url
highway.go({ path: '/users/42' })

The go method can either take a string to navigate to a simple route using its name. Or, an object with at least a name key.

It can also take a params object to pass dynamic parameters to the route. The params can also be an Array which will be mapped onto the dynamic parts of the path in sequential order.

Options for the go method

  • name {string} The route name
  • params {mixed} An Object or Array of dynamic parameters passed to the route
  • path {string} To use instead of the name and params to navigate directly to a known URL path
  • force {boolean} Force the route to execute even if it is the last executed route, default false.
    Can be useful when trying to navigate to the same page but with a different value for a dynamic parameter of the route

Backbone.Router specific options

These options are just passed to Backbone.Router.navigate when executing the go method.

  • trigger {boolean} Trigger the route controller, default true
  • replace {boolean} Replace the current entry in the browser history, default false

See the Backbone documentation for more info.

Catching client-side 404

You can declare a special route named 404 to catch inexisting routes

  name: '404',
  action () {
    // Display 404 error page

before and after events / middlewares

Each route can trigger events using an event aggregator like Backbone.Events or Backbone.Radio

import highway from 'backbone-highway'
import { Events } from 'backbone'
// Listen to 'core:render' event
Events.on('core:render', state => {
  console.log(`Hello ${} from 'core:render' event!`)
// Declare a profile route
  name: 'profile',
  path: '/users/:name',
  // Declare events that will be triggered before the `action`
  before: [
    'core:render' // An event can be a simple string
    { name: 'core:render', params: { name: 'World' } }, // Or an object to pass in specific parameters
    (state) => { // Or even a function that will be executed instead of being passed to the `dispatcher`
      setTimeout(() => state.resolve(), 1000)
  action (state) {
    console.log(`Hello ${} from route action!`)
// Start the router passing the event aggregator instance in the `dispatcher` option
highway.start({ dispatcher: Events })
// Navigate to the route
highway.go({ name: 'profile', params: { name: 'Highway' } })

In this example, the route parameter name will be passed to the event, but it can be overridden by declaring specific params for the event.


  • Backbone >= 1.1.4
  • Underscore >= 1.4.4

Demo / Example

Use npm to install dependencies and launch the demo server.

npm install && npm start


The MIT License (MIT)

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