Form Data Extraction with Backbone.js, Underscore.js and jQuery

Our weapon of choice for building single-page web applications is Backbone.js. Unlike a few of its competitors, such as Ember.js, Knockout, Backbone does not support model binding out of the box. There are a some libraries that add model binding support to Backbone, probably first on the block was Backbone.ModelBinding which has now been discontinued, Backbone.ModelBinder and Backbone Bindings.

Even though these libraries make sense in some cases, we have noticed that usually when starting out, Backbone's default tools (Backbone itself, Underscore.js and jQuery) are enough to get the ball rolling, as demonstrated below.


  Name: <input type="text" name="name"/>
  Age: <input type="text" name="age"/>
  <input type="submit" value="Submit"></input>


var UserForm = Backbone.View.extend({
  events: {'submit': 'save'},

  initialize: function() {
    _.bindAll(this, 'save');
  save: function() {
    var arr = this.$el.serializeArray();
    var data = _(arr).reduce(function(acc, field) {
      acc[field.name] = field.value;
      return acc;
    }, {});
    return false;

var userForm = new UserForm({el: this.$('form'), model: new User()});

To understand the actual data extraction I will explain serializeArray and reduce.

serializeArray is a jQuery method that takes a form and constructs an array of all the input elements that have a name attribute. The resulting array is in the following form:

[{name: "name", value: "John Smith"}, ...]

An array of maps is not quite something we are looking for, so we have to do another transformation.

reduce is used to build up a new value from the array with an original seed value (empty map) and a function. The function's first argument acc is the return value of the previous function call and the second argument field is the current element in the array. Now we have something that can be passed to Backbone.Model.save:

{name: "John Smith", age: 34}