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    Submachine - Kick-ass finite state machines in JavaScript and CoffeeScript

    A clean and readable DSL for easily creating finite state machines in JavaScript and CoffeeScript. With a footprint of less than 200 lines of unminified code and with no dependency, Submachine works in browser and in Node, and it can be imported with CommonJS, AMD and normal browser <script>.


    Either manually copy the file lib/cartograph.js in your project or, if you use Bower, then just run:

    bower install submachine


    Submachine works in Node and in the browser, and has no dependency, but for the sake of this example we assume that we need to create a toggle button widget in the browser using jQuery:


    class Toggler extends Submachine
      # Declare states 
      @hasStates "on""off"
      # Define events and transitions 
      @transition from: "on",  to: "off"on: "toggle"
      @transition from: "off"to: "on",  on: "toggle"
      # Optionally define callbacks to setup/teardown states 
      # (here using "*" wildcard to match any state) 
      @onEnter "*"->
        @btn.addClass( @state ).val @state
      @onLeave "*"->
        @btn.removeClass @state
      constructor: ( $btn ) ->
        @btn = $btn
        # Events (like `toggle` here) are exposed as instance methods => @toggle
        @initState "on"
    # Instantiate 
    toggler = new Toggler $("button.toggle")


    JavaScript doesn't have (yet) the awesome CoffeeScript class syntax, but Submachine comes to the rescue providing a subclass method that implements class inheritance and accepts a function evaluated in the class scope. Also, the initialize method provides functionality similar to CoffeeScript's constructor.

    var Toggler = Submachine.subclass(function( proto ) {
      this.hasStates("on", "off");
      this.transition({ from: "on",  to: "off", on: "toggle" });
      this.transition({ from: "off", to: "on",  on: "toggle" });
      this.onEnter("*", function() {
        this.btn.addClass( this.state ).val( this.state );
      this.onLeave("*", function() {
        this.btn.removeClass( this.state );
      proto.initialize = function( $btn ) {
        var self = this;
        this.btn = $btn;
        $ {
    var toggler = new Toggler( $("button.toggle") );

    Public class methods


    hasStates( states ) accepts state names as different arguments or as an array and uses them to compose the list of the valid states.


    transition( obj ) takes an object literal specifying at least an event name triggering the transition and the name of the states the transition goes from and to (e.g. { on: "open", from: "locked", to: "unlocked" } meaning than on event open the state transitions from locked to unlocked). It expose the event as an instance method that triggers the transition to the "to" state if called when in the "from" state. More than one transition can be defined from the same event. Transitions are evaluated in order, so in case more than one transition applies, only the first one gets triggered.

    In addition to the required from, to, and on options, it is possible to pass an if option specifying a condition that needs to be satisfied in order for the transition to occur. The value of this option can be either a function or a string. If it is a string, the instance method with that name is evaluated. In any case, the condition is evaluated in the scope of the instance.


    onEnter( state, fn ) causes the callback function fn to be called whenever transitioning to state state. state can be a state name, or the special wildcard "*" to mean "any state". The callback is evaluated in the scope of the instance, and gets passed any argument passed to the event method.


    onLeave( state, fn ) causes the callback function fn to be called whenever transitioning from state state to another. state can be a state name, or the special wildcard "*" to mean "any state". The callback is evaluated in the scope of the instance, and gets passed any argument passed to the event method.


    setupState( state, obj ) is a shortcut for specifying both onEnter and onLeave callbacks at once (e.g. setupState("locked", { onEnter: enterCbk, onLeave: leaveCbk })).


    subclass( fn ) is used to implement class inheritance when Submachine is used with plain JavaScript. It creates the subclass, evaluates fn in its scope passing the instance prototype as the first argument and finally returns the subclass, replacing CoffeeScript's class syntax. Moreover, the subclass' constructor executes the initialize instance method if available, passing all the arguments, making it possible to override the constructor logic, as in CoffeeScript's constructor.

    Public instance methods


    By default it does nothing but optionally getting a state name and initializing the state with it by calling initState, but it can be overridden to do other things if needed.


    initState( state ) initializes the state of the state machine to state, also calling its onEnter callback if defined. It throws an error if called when the state is already set.


    switchTo( state ) triggers a state transition to state, executing also the appropriate callbacks. This method is used internally by the event methods and normally should not be called directly.


    1. Fork the project and setup the environment with npm install
    2. Write new features and relative tests (with Buster JS)
    3. Send pull request (please do not change version number)



    • Available for installation as a Bower package


    • Possibility to attach multiple onEnter and onLeave callbacks for the same state

    • Add if conditions on transitions

    • Prefix internal properties with _ to mark them more clearly as "private"


    • Big API change: now Submachine is meant to be subclassed, so most methods are class methods now

    • This is a new minor version release, not maintaining backward compatibility


    • initState throws error if called when state is already set


    • First release


    npm i submachine

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