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Introducing Knockout-SinglePage

I've found that when working on a side project I have the tendency to write a component which I think will stand really nicely on its own so I start extracting it out, I effectively had a side project from my side project. It last happened when I was playing around with commonmark and it has happened again with my latest project Knockout-SinglePage.

Knockout-SinglePage is a javascript library for writing single page applications using Knockout. Unlike many other libraries which use Knockout to achieve similar functionality they do so by building a framework on top of Knockout whereas Knockout-SinglePage takes the approach of being an extension to the core Knockout library. Knockout-SinglePage uses knockout components and the HTML 5 browser history API to provide most of its functionality so that we can keep the layer of code on top relatively thin.

In the rest of this article I am going to give you a basic introduction for setting up your first application with Knockout-SinglePage. In what is a first for me this library is available via Bower which is also the preferred method for distribution, it can be installed with the following command:

bower install knockout-singlepage

Once you have Knockout-Singlepage installed the next thing that needs to be done is to setup a page to host our application.

<html>
    <head>
        <script type="text/javascript" src="<path to scripts>/knockout.js"></script>
        <script type="text/javascript" src="<path to scripts>/knockout-singlepage.js"></script>
    </head>
    <body>
        <h1>App title</h1>
        <div id="app"></div>

        <script type="text/javascript" src="<path to scripts>/app.js"></script>
    </body>
</html>

Any content that is loaded by the application will be displayed in <div id="app"></div>. Where the magic starts to happen is in app.js, as mentioned previously Knockout-SinglePage uses knockout components so the first thing that we want to do is register some components that can be loaded.

ko.components.register('default', { template: 'This is the default template<br /><a href="/another-page">Go to another page</a>' });
ko.components.register('another', { template: 'This is another page<br /><a href="/">Go back to the default page</a>' });

Now that we have some content that can be loaded we need to setup some routes so that we know when to load the content. For Knockout-SinglePage routes are an array of objects each route at its simplest is made up of a name which identifies the route and the URL which will determine when it is displayed. It is important that the name of the route matches the name of a component so that we know what component should be loaded when we match the URL.

var routes = [
    { name: 'default', url: '/' },
    { name: 'userprofile', url: '/another-page' }
];

The URLs for the routes also support route parameters which in the form of a portion of the URL prefixed with a colon : like so /user/:id that URL will extract the route portion marked by :id into a variable passed to the component view model. Now that we have components registered and the routes defined it is time to start the application, unlike traditional Knockout where you call ko.applyBindings() we instead initialise Knockout-SinglePage like so:

ko.singlePage.init(routes, document.getElementById('app'));

The last parameter which identifies the element that we will be loading our components into is optional, when it is not supplied the content is loaded directly into the <body> tag. For more in-depth information about how to use Knockout-SinglePage you can visit the GitHub repository and view the README, if you want to contribute check out the issues at GitHub or raise an issue on how you think the library can be improved.

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