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Backbone.Intercept intelligently manages link clicks and form submissions within Backbone applications.


The default action of form submissions and link clicks is often undesirable in Backbone applications. One would usually rather prevent that default behavior, then handle those through Backbone.history and possibly also in a Router's callback. Backbone doesn't do any of this for you, but Backbone.Intercept does.

If you're writing e.preventDefault() in many of your view's event callbacks – or otherwise handling this problem on a per-view basis – then Backbone.Intercept might be what you're looking for.

// before Backbone.Intercept
var MyView = Backbone.View.extend({
  events: {
    'click a': 'onClick',
    'submit form': 'onSubmit'
  onClick: function(e) {
  onSubmit: function(e) {
    // form submit logic
// after Backbone.Intercept
var MyView = Backbone.View.extend({
  events: {
    'submit form': 'onSubmit'
  onSubmit: function(e) {
    // form submit logic


Install through bower or npm.

bower install backbone.intercept
npm install backbone.intercept


Backbone.Intercept depends on Underscore, Backbone and a jQuery-like API on the Backbone.$ object.

Table of Contents

Getting Started

Getting started is easy. Simply call Backbone.Intercept.start() when your application is started up. If you're using Marionette, this might look something like

app.on('start', Backbone.Intercept.start);


Default Behavior

In general, links with relative URIs will be intercepted, whereas absolute URIs will be ignored by Backbone.Intercept. A few examples will best illustrate the default behavior of Intercept.

// The following URIs will be intercepted
// The following URIs will be ignored by Backbone.Intercept and handled like normal


By default your intercepted links will be sent along to Backbone.history.navigate to be processed. You can customize this by overriding the navigate method on Backbone.Intercept. By doing this you could make Intercept work with a Router instead, or integrate other libraries like Backbone.Radio.

// Create a Router
var myRouter = new Backbone.Router();
// Attach it to Intercept
Backbone.Intercept.navigate = function(uri, options) {
  myRouter.navigate(uri, options);
// Or use a Backbone.Radio Channel
Backbone.Intercept.navigate = function(uri, options) {
  var routerChannel ='router');
  routerChannel.command('navigate', uri, options);

If you don't want anything to happen when you click links you can specify the navigate function as a falsey value, or an empty function.

// This won't cause any navigation to occur when links are clicked
Backbone.Intercept.navigate = undefined;

Customizing the Behavior Per-Link

This behavior can be changed by setting custom attributes on the element.

<!-- Force this link to be ignored by Backbone.Intercept -->
<a href='path/to/my-document.pdf' bypass></a>
<!-- If you want to follow the HTML5 spec, then this version works, too -->
<a href='path/to/my-document.pdf' data-bypass></a>
<!-- You can also be explicit, though this isn't necessary -->
<a href='path/to/my-document.pdf' bypass='true'></a>
<!-- If you've specified a navigateWith property, you can specify the trigger as an attribute -->
<a href='path/to/my-document.pdf' trigger='false'></a>
<!-- There's an HTML5-compliant version for that as well -->
<a href='path/to/my-document.pdf' data-trigger='false'></a>

Setting Global Link Trigger Behavior

You can set the default trigger behavior by specifying it directly on the Backbone.Intercept defaults option.

// Let's set the trigger setting to false by default
Backbone.Intercept.defaults.trigger = false;


Forms are much simpler than links. All forms are intercepted unless the action attribute has been specified. And unlike links, there's no integration of forms with a Router.

<!-- This form will be intercepted -->
<!-- But this one will not -->
<form action='post'></form>

Setting the Root Element of Backbone.Intercept

Backbone.Intercept will intercept links and forms on the body on the page, but this can be customized by setting the rootSelector property.

Backbone.Intercept.rootSelector = '.backbone-app';

This is useful for webapps where Backbone might not be the only library running on the page.

When Not To Use Backbone.Intercept

Backbone.Intercept works best in an application that is entirely controlled by Backbone. Of course, not every project is like this. It's not uncommon for there to be Backbone components on a page that is otherwise not Backbone. In those situations it is likely a better choice to manage link clicks and form submissions on a per-view basis.

This library is only meant to act as a proxy between the DOM and your JS, and nothing more, if you want to be able to cancel routes, this library won't help you with that, you'd need to handle that in your router.




The version of Backbone.Intercept.


A query selector for the root element of Intercept. Defaults to 'body'.


An object for the default values for the router. There are three properties in defaults, links, forms, and trigger, and all three are true out-of-the-box. The first two options determine if Intercept handles links and forms, respectively. The trigger option determines if intercepted links pass trigger:true by default.

The value of the trigger or data-trigger attribute on the anchor tag itself will always trump the value of the value of trigger in the defaults hash.


start( [options] )

Starts Backbone.Intercept. You can pass options as an argument to override the defaults property.

// In this app we will only intercept forms
  links: false
// And in this one only links
  forms: false

Stop intercepting links and forms.

navigate( uri, options )

default: Backbone.history.navigate

A method that's called when links are intercepted. By default it just forwards it along to Backbone.history.navigate, but you can specify a custom method to do whatever you'd like.

The uri is the value of the link's href attribute. options are the navigation options, which is just an object with a trigger property.

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