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Ember-Orbit is a library that integrates Orbit.js with Ember.js to provide flexibility and control in your application's data layer.

Ember-Orbit features:

  • Access to the full power of Orbit and its ecosystem, including compatible sources, buckets, and coordination strategies.

  • A data schema that's declared through simple model definitions.

  • Stores that wrap Orbit stores and provide access to their underlying data as easy to use records and record arrays. These stores can be forked, edited in isolation, and merged back to the original as a coalesced changeset.

  • Live-updating filtered record arrays and model relationships.

  • The full power of Orbit's composable query expressions.

  • The ability to connect any number of sources together with Orbit coordination strategies.

  • Orbit's git-like deterministic change tracking and history manipulation capabilities.

Relationship to Orbit

Ember-Orbit provides a very thin "Emberified" layer over the top of some core primitives from Orbit, including Store, Cache, and Model classes that extend Ember.Object. Most common developer interactions with Orbit will be through these classes.

However, Ember-Orbit does not attempt to wrap every base class from Orbit. For instance, you'll need to use Orbit's Coordinator and coordination strategies to define relationships between Orbit sources. In this way, you can install any Orbit Source or Bucket library and wire them together in your Ember-Orbit application.

Important: It's strongly recommended that you read the Orbit guides at before using Ember-Orbit, since an understanding of Orbit is vital to making the most of Ember-Orbit.


Ember-Orbit obeys semver and thus should not be considered to have a stable API until 1.0. Until then, any breaking changes in APIs or Orbit dependencies should be accompanied by a minor version bump of Ember-Orbit.


peeps-ember-orbit is a simple contact manager demo that uses Ember-Orbit to illustrate a number of possible configurations and application patterns.


As with any Ember addon, you can install Ember-Orbit in your project with:

ember install ember-orbit

Ember-Orbit itself already has several Orbit dependencies, including @orbit/core, @orbit/coordinator, @orbit/data, @orbit/store, @orbit/utils, and @orbit/immutable.

If you want to use additional Orbit sources and buckets, install them as regular dependencies. For example:

npm install @orbit/jsonapi --save

You'll also need to tell Ember-Orbit to include these packages in your build. Modify your ember-cli-build.js file to add them to an orbit.packages array like this:

const EmberApp = require('ember-cli/lib/broccoli/ember-app');

module.exports = function(defaults) {
  const app = new EmberApp(defaults, {
    // Orbit-specific options
    orbit: {
      packages: [

  return app.toTree();

Note: There's nothing particularly Orbit-specific about the implementation that imports these packages, so expect a more generalized import solution in the near future.

Using Ember-Orbit

Ember-Orbit installs the following services by default:

  • dataCoordinator - An @orbit/coordinator Coordinator instance that manages sources and coordination strategies between them.

  • store - An Ember-Orbit Store instance.

Out-of-the box, you can begin developing using store service, which is injected into every route and controller.

However, the store's contents exist only in memory and will be cleared every time your app restarts. Let's try adding another source and use the dataCoordinator service to keep it in sync with the store.

Adding a "backup" source

Sources should be added to the app/data-sources directory.

Let's add an IndexedDB source that will serve as a backup. The factory that generates this source should be defined in app/data-sources/backup.js as follows:

import IndexedDBSource from '@orbit/indexeddb';
export default {
  create(injections = {}) { = 'backup';
    injections.namespace = 'my-app';
    return new IndexedDBSource(injections);

Note that injections should include both a Schema and a KeyMap, which are created by default for every Ember-Orbit application. We're also adding a name to uniquely identify the source within the coordinator as well as a namespace that will be used to define the IndexedDB database.

Every source that's defined in app/data-sources will be discovered automatically by Ember-Orbit and added to the dataCoordinator service.

Next let's define some strategies to synchronize data between sources.

Defining coordination strategies

Coordination strategies should be added to the app/data-strategies directory.

Let's define a strategy to backup changes made to the store into our new backup source. The factory that generates this strategy should be defined in app/data-strategies/store-backup.js as follows:

import { SyncStrategy } from '@orbit/coordinator';
export default {
  create() {
    // Backup all store changes (by making this strategy blocking we ensure that
    // the store can't change without the change also being backed up).
    return new SyncStrategy({
      source: 'store',
      target: 'backup',
      blocking: true

You should also consider adding an event logging strategy to log events emitted from your sources to the browser console. Let's add app/data-strategies/event-logging.js:

import { EventLoggingStrategy } from '@orbit/coordinator';
export default {
  create() {
    return new EventLoggingStrategy();

Sources have another kind of log as well: a transform log, which tracks transforms that are applied. A log truncation strategy will keep the size of transform logs in check. It observes the sources associated with the strategy and truncates their transform logs when a common transform has been applied to them all. Let's add app/data-strategies/log-truncation.js:

import {
} from '@orbit/coordinator';
export default {
  create() {
    return new LogTruncationStrategy();

Defining a data bucket

Data buckets should be added to the app/data-buckets directory.

Let's define a bucket to store state in IndexedDB. The factory that generates this strategy should be defined in app/data-buckets/main.js as follows:

import IndexedDBBucket from '@orbit/indexeddb-bucket';
export default {
  create() {
    return new IndexedDBBucket({ namespace: 'my-app-settings' });

Initializing our bucket

We need to ensure that the bucket defined above is injected into all the sources in our application as well as the KeyMap for the application. We can create a standard Ember initializer to do this - let's say app/initializers/orbit.js:

export function initialize(application) {
  application.inject('data-source', 'bucket', 'data-bucket:main');
  application.inject('data-key-map:main', 'bucket', 'data-bucket:main');
export default {
  name: 'orbit',

Activating the coordinator

Next we'll need to activate our coordinator as part of our app's boot process. The coordinator requires an explicit activation step because the process is async and we may want to allow developers to do work beforehand.

In our case, we want to restore our store from the backup source before we enable the coordinator. Let's do this in our application route's beforeModel hook (in app/routes/application.js):

const { get, inject, Route } = Ember;
export default Route.extend({
  dataCoordinator: inject.service(),
  beforeModel() {
    const coordinator = get(this, 'dataCoordinator');
    const backup = coordinator.getSource('backup');
    return backup.pull(q => q.findRecords())
      .then(transform =>
      .then(() => coordinator.activate());

This code first pulls all the records from backup and then syncs them with the main store before activating the coordinator. In this way, the coordination strategy that backs up the store won't be enabled until after the restore is complete.

Defining models

Models are used to access the underlying data in an Ember-Orbit Store. They provide a proxy to get and set attributes and relationships. In addition, models are used to define the schema that's shared by the sources in your Orbit application.

Define models in the app/models directory. Let's start with app/models/planet.js:

import {
} from 'ember-orbit';

export default Model.extend({
  remoteId: key(),
  name: attr('string'),
  atmosphere: attr('boolean'),
  classification: attr('string'),
  moons: hasMany('moon', { inverse: 'planet' })

As well as app/models/moon.js:

import {
} from 'ember-orbit';

export default Model.extend({
  remoteId: key(),
  name: attr('string'),
  planet: hasOne('planet', { inverse: 'moons' })

Note that we're using a key named remoteId. In addition to declaring the KeyMap, this is required to maintain separate client-side and server-side IDs (which is required for offline applications in which servers don't accept client-generated IDs). It's beyond the scope of this README, but you'll also need to specify these remote keys in the serializer used to communicate with your backend.

Adding records

Records can be added in a couple ways. The easiest is to use the addRecord method on the store:

store.addRecord({ type: 'planet', name: 'Earth' })
  .then(planet => {
    console.log(planet.get('name')); // Earth

Alternatively, you can call store.update() and use the transform builder to build up a single Transform with any number of operations:

store.update(t => [
  t.addRecord({ type: 'planet', attributes: { name: 'Earth' } }),
  t.addRecord({ type: 'planet', attributes: { name: 'Venus' } })
  .then(() => {
    // planets added successfully in a single `Transform`

Note: calling update is a direct passthrough to the underlying Orbit store, so it's important to specify records in their full normalized form (see the Orbit guides).

Querying records

There are three unique methods used to query records:

  • store.query() - returns a promise that resolves to a static recordset.

  • store.liveQuery() - returns a promise that resolves to a live recordset that will be refreshed whenever the store's data changes.

  • store.cache.query() - returns a static set of in-memory results immediately.

All of these query methods take the same arguments as any other queryable Orbit source - see the Orbit guides for details.

For example, the following liveQuery should return a promise that resolves to a live resultset that will stay updated with the "terrestrial" planets in the store:

store.liveQuery(q => q.findRecords('planet')
                      .filter({ attribute: 'classification',
                                value: 'terrestrial' }));

Unlike the Orbit Store, in which results are returned as static POJOs, results from Ember-Orbit queries are returned as records, i.e. instantiated versions of their associated Model class.

The attributes and relationships of records will be kept in sync with the backing store.

Note that the Ember-Orbit Store also supports the find method for compatibility with Ember's default expectations in routes. The following queries are async and call store.query internally:

// find all records of a type
// find a specific record by type and id
store.find('planet', 'abc123');

The following queries are synchronous and call store.cache.query internally:

// find all records of a type
// find a specific record by type and id
store.cache.find('planet', 'abc123');

Updating records

Any records retrieved from a store or its cache will stay sync'd with the contents of that cache. Each attribute and relationship is a computed property that has getters and setters which pass through to the underlying store.

Let's say that you find a couple records directly in the store's cache and want to edit them:

let jupiter = store.cache.find('planet', 'jupiter');
let io = store.cache.find('moon', 'io');
let europa = store.cache.find('moon', 'europa');
let sun = store.cache.find('star', 'theSun');
jupiter.set('name', 'JUPITER!');
jupiter.set('sun', sun);

Behind the scenes, these changes each result in a call to store.update. Of course, this method could also be called directly.

Forking and merging stores

Because Ember-Orbit stores and caches are just thin wrappers over their underlying Orbit equivalents, they share the same basic capabilities. Thus, Ember-Orbit stores can be forked and merged, just as described in the Orbit guides.

The same example can be followed:

// start by adding two planets and a moon to the store
store.update(t => [
  .then(() => store.query(q => q.findRecords('planet').sort('name')))
  .then(planets => {
    console.log('original planets');
    // fork the store
    forkedStore = store.fork();
    // add a planet and moons to the fork
    return forkedStore.update(t => [
  // query the planets in the forked store
  .then(() => forkedStore.query(q => q.findRecords('planet').sort('name')))
  .then(planets => {
    console.log('planets in fork');
  // merge the forked store back into the original store
  .then(() => store.merge(forkedStore)
  // query the planets in the original store
  .then(() => store.query(q => q.findRecords('planet').sort('name'))))
  .then(planets => {
    console.log('merged planets');
  .catch(e => {

And the same notes apply:

  • Once a store has been forked, the original and forked stores’ data can diverge independently.

  • A store fork can simply be abandoned without cost.

  • Merging a fork will gather the transforms applied since the fork point, coalesce the operations in those transforms into a single new transform, and then update the original store.

Important - One additional concern to be aware of is that Ember-Orbit will generate new records for each store. Care should be taken to not mix records between stores, since the underlying data in each store can diverge. If you need to access a record in a store's fork, just query the forked store or cache for that record.

Contributing to Ember-Orbit


  • git clone
  • cd ember-orbit
  • npm install


Running Tests

  • npm test (Runs ember try:each to test your addon against multiple Ember versions)
  • ember test
  • ember test --server


  • ember build

For more information on using ember-cli, visit


Ember-Orbit owes a great deal to Ember Data, which has influenced the design of many of Ember-Orbit's interfaces. Many thanks to the Ember Data Core Team, including Yehuda Katz, Tom Dale, and Igor Terzic, for their work.

It is hoped that, by tracking Ember Data's features and interfaces where possible, Ember-Orbit will also be able to contribute back to Ember Data.


Copyright 2014-2017 Cerebris Corporation. MIT License (see LICENSE for details).


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