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Statechart implementation in JavaScript.

Build Status


  • Hierarchical states
  • Can be mixined with an arbitrary object
  • JSON-like description of the machine
  • Fast
  • Lightweight (4.6KB minified using jsmin)
  • JavaScript engine independent (browsers, nodejs, narwhal, ...)

Related work

This hierarchical state machine implementation has been inspired by the QP active object framework, see

Defining a basic state machine

State machine is defined as an object with initialState and states properties. The former defines the first state we want our machine to enter. The latter is an object with states, events and actions:

Light switch statechart

var lightSwitch = _.extend({
    initialState: "Out",
    states: {
        'Out': {
            'on':  { target: 'On'   },
            'out': { target: 'Out'  }
        'On': {
            'on':  { target: 'On'  },
            'out': { target: 'Out' }
}, Statechart);

// Initialize the state machine and make the initial transition (to the `Out` state).;

// Dispatch the `on` event to the machine which causes it to transit to the `On` state.

Reserved events

The state machine dispatched three reserved events: init, entry and exit. These are special events that you might react on when an initial transition to a state takes place, when a state is entered or exited.

Assume we use the same machine as defined in the above example and run it like this:;

The resulting order of transitions would then be:

  • [Out] entry
  • [Out] init
  • ... now the out event was dispatched
  • [Out] exit
  • [Out] entry
  • [Out] init
  • ... now the on event was dispatched
  • [Out] exit
  • [On] entry
  • [On] init

Custom events

Custom events are named events that we dispatch to the machine (like the on and out events in the above example). As a reaction on these events, we might want to either transit to another state, execute an action while doing that or guard the transition if there is a certain condition that must be met in order for the transition to take place.

'MyState': {
    'myEvent': {
        guard: function() { return this.mySlot === true; },
        action: function() { console.log('Hooray, transition takes place.'),
        target: 'AnotherState'
'AnotherState': {

Hierarchical states

States can be nested to an arbitrary level. State nesting leads to behavioral inheritance [Samek+ 00, 02]. This allows new states to be specified by difference rather then created from scratch each time.

Hierarchical states

State nesting can simply be done by nesting objects.

'MyState': {
    'init': 'MyChildState',
    'eventA': { ... },
    'MyChildState': {
        'entry': function() { console.log('MyChildState being entered.'); },
        'eventB': { ... }

See for a complete example of a non-trivial state machine.

Copyright and license

Copyright (c) 2010 David Durman

Licensed under the MIT License (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at