jQuery dynamic forms

Some javascript, currently using jQuery, that will convert a form into an ajax form.

First up, a shim to enable FormData for non-compliant browsers. Based on formdata.js, but with some changes. Man, callback based code is a bitch when all you need to do is get some value, and have to work around that.

(function(w, $) {
  // Don't override if it is native.
  if (w.FormData)
  function FormData(form) {
    var fd = this;
    this.fake = true;
    this.boundary = "--------FormData" + Math.random();
    this._fields = [];
    this.contentType = 'multipart/form-data; boundary=' + this.boundary;
    if (form) {
      var $form = $(form);
      $.each($form.serializeArray(), function(i, obj){
        fd.append(obj.name, obj.value);
      $form.find('[type=file]').each(function(i, file) {
        fd.append(file.name, file.files[0]);
  // A listener to automatically add the binary version of the data. This may suck.
  $('[type=file]').change(function updateData(change) {
    var reader = new FileReader();
    reader.onload = function(load) {
      $(change.target.files[0]).data('binary-file-data', load.target.result);
  // The interface FormData provides...
  FormData.prototype.append = function(key, value) {
    this._fields.push([key, value]);
  // But, we will actually look more like a string to XMLHttpRequest.
  FormData.prototype.toString = function() {
    var boundary = this.boundary;
    var body = '';
    $.each(this._fields, function(i, field) {
      body += '--' + boundary + '\r\n';
      if (field[1].name) {
        var file = field[1];
        body += "Content-Disposition: form-data; name=\""+ field[0] +"\"; filename=\""+ file.name +"\"\r\n";
        body += "Content-Type: "+ file.type +"\r\n\r\n";
        body += $(file).data('binary-file-data') + "\r\n";
      } else {
        body += "Content-Disposition: form-data; name=\""+ field[0] +"\";\r\n\r\n";
        body += field[1] + "\r\n";
    body += "--" + boundary +"--";
    return body;
  w.FormData = FormData;
})(window, jQuery);

Now, for the jQuery code. This will override the submit event on all forms. If there are any <input type=file> elements, then it will use a FormData object, else it will just .serialize() the object. The response will override the .html() content of the form, but not the form itself.

$('form').submit(function(evt) {
  var form = evt.target, $form = $(form), data;
  var options = {
    cache: false,
    type: form.method,
    url: form.action,
    done: function(data) {
    fail: function(xhr, status, error) {
      console.log(status, error, xhr);
  if ($form.find('[type=file]').length) {
    data = new FormData(form);
    // Native FormData objects set this automatically (how???), but we need to manually do it.
    options.contentType = data.contentType || false;
    options.processData = false;
  } else {
    data = $form.serialize();
  options.data = data;

Sorting dates in DataTables

If you have tabular data, then semantically, you’ll want to put it into an HTML table. It makes sense, and is certainly easier than trying to post-style nested divs as a table.

The other really nice thing is that it’s fairly easy to use DataTables to then make that table dynamic. Especially useful if your table is large: I use it on a report of all customers in my work, and have just started using it in some user-facing pages. In essence, it is as simple as doing:


With this, you get sortable columns, pagination, and searching.

But sorting of dates sucks, unless they are in ISO8601 format. ISO8601 is fantastic, by the way. Not only do you get dates/datetimes that are inherently no longer ambiguous, but they sort alphabetically, as you would expect. Because every field is larger than all of the fields following it, and all fields are zero-padded, eveny date or datetime will be correctly sorted.

However, the general public does not understand these two reasons for a ‘one true date format’, so we are generally forced to display it in a more readable format. Which doesn’t sort alphabetically.

There is a trick you can use to get sorting, and nice dates using DataTables, though. For example, the following (rendered) html will sort correctly, both ascending and desencding, but also only display a nice format:

  <span style="display: none;">2012-06-07</span>
  Thursday, June 7th, 2012

In django, you can use the following snippet:

  <span style="display: none;">{{ value|date:"Y-m-d" }}</span>
  {{ value|date:"l, F jS, Y" }}

Recently, DataTables also had a blog post about how to use it with Twitter Bootstrap 2. I think it looks rather nice. And with this tip, it is so much more useful.

You can also use this way of thinking on other things that should be sorted differently to how they are printed.

A new Garmin Communicator plugin

As part of my plan to create a workout editor, I had to look into the method of communicating between the Garmin plugin and the browser.

It feels like a Java application. It’s documented like it, too. But, it’s written in Prototype, and includes a whole stack of other tools, like XML handling, Ajax communication, and messaging. Things that should belong in seperate parts, IMHO.

So, after a fair bit of plugging around, I was able to make enough sense of it to figure out exactly how it works:

  1. You unlock the plugin with a key-pair
  2. You get a list of devices
  3. If this is a send, then you set the value of a certain property.
  4. You start an Async communication.
  5. You poll the ‘finish’ version of that communication.
  6. When the communication is finished, if this was a receive, you load the data from a property.

I understand why they have made the plugin handle it’s communication in an async manner, but seriously: why not allow for a callback function when the communication is finished? To me, that feels like it would make so much more sense.

Anyway, my other main criticism is that it is inherently unsafe for multiple operations. Instead of, as would be possible with a callback that gets executed when the communication is finished, returning the data, it puts it into a property within the plugin. Which does mean that any bit of code can read it, but also means it’s possible to accidentally overwrite it, as the same property is used for writes.

So, the API for replacing it looks more like:

var plugin = new Garmin.Communicator();
plugin.readActivities(function(data) {
  // data contains the XML activity data.

It’s actually a little more complicated than this: we can pass in delegates, that will have callback methods called when certain events occur. These events are also pushed (using jQuery) onto the HTML element that is the plugin object. But, due to a jQuery bug, you need to listen further up the chain: so you can listen for these events on body.

This script will also add the plugin to the page if it cannot find it, and will run as a singleton: calling the constructor a second time will return the original object, but also add a new delegate to the list of delegates.

I’m tempted to remove the delegate handling, and simply have it as callback-based, but this is sort-of a transition from the way the Garmin team have done it. I’m concerned there may be issues with non-UI initiated read/write events (ie, those that happen on page load) ‘beating’ the plugin being ready, but that is a job for another day.

I’ve also written some Knockout bindings for this: but those are not quite ready for public consumption. I may actually write parsing code for the Training Center Database XML file, and the types it contains, and include that with this project. But, then I may be approaching the bloat seen in the actual Garmin plugin. At this stage, if you have a server that accepts TCX files, then this should be enough.

The project is on BitBucket, as usual: garmin-plugin.

The Organism Application

I had an email from a self-confessed django beginner, asking for some assistance. Here is my solution, as I worked through it.

The Application

The application is designed to allow tracking information related to identifying various organisms. An organism may have many identifying features, such as on a tree, the height, and the leaf morphology, or on a bird, the colour of the feathers, size of the egg and so on. To make it simpler for the users, it would be useful to classify organisms as belonging to a type, which can then be used to limit the available choices of identifying features: if an organism is a bird, then we only show those features that make sense for a bird.

To do all of this, we can have a class structure that looks somewhat like:

# models.py
from django.db import models

class OrganismType(models.Model):
    description = models.CharField(max_length=200)

class IdentificationField(models.Model):
    type = models.ForeignKey(OrganismType, related_name='id_fields')
    name = models.CharField(max_length=200)
    class Meta:
        unique_together = ('type', 'name')

class Organism(models.Model):
    common_name = models.CharField(max_length=200)
    latin_name = models.CharField(max_length=200, unique=True)
    type = models.ForeignKey(OrganismType, related_name='organisms')

class IdentificationDetail(models.Model):
    organism = models.ForeignKey(Organism, related_name="id_details")
    field = models.ForeignKey(IdentificationField)
    description = models.CharField(max_length=250)
    class Meta:
        unique_together = ('organism', 'field')

You’ll see I’ve also included a couple of unique_together constraints: I’ve assumed that each field for a given organism should only appear once.

Bending the admin to our will

Next, we can put all of this into the admin. This is really quite simple, but, as we will see, has it’s limits.

# admin.py
from django.contrib import admin

from models import OrganismType, Organism, IdentificationField, IdentificationDetail

class IdentificationFieldInline(admin.TabularInline):
    model = IdentificationField
    extra = 0

class OrganismTypeAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    inlines = [IdentificationFieldInline]

class IdentificationDetailInline(admin.TabularInline):
    model = IdentificationDetail
    extra = 0

class OrganismAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    inlines = [IdentificationDetailInline]    
    list_display = ('common_name', 'latin_name', 'type')
    list_filter = ('type',)

admin.site.register(OrganismType, OrganismTypeAdmin)
admin.site.register(Organism, OrganismAdmin)

I’ve removed the extra empty forms on the formsets, it looks much cleaner. I’ve also used a couple of the nice features of the admin to make display of stuff better.

At this point, thanks to the magic of django, you now have an administrative interface. But, it doesn’t quite do what we want: that is, we haven’t limited which identification fields will be available in the organism’s inlines.

To do that, we need to fiddle with the formset.

# forms.py
from django import forms

from models import IdentificationDetail, Organism

class IdentificationDetailFormSet(forms.models.BaseInlineFormSet):
    def __init__(self, *args, **kwargs):
        super(IdentificationDetailFormSet, self).__init__(*args, **kwargs)
        for form in self.forms:
    # We need to override the constructor (and the associated property) for the
    # empty form, so dynamic forms work.
    def _get_empty_form(self, **kwargs):
        form = super(IdentificationDetailFormSet, self)._get_empty_form(**kwargs)
        return form
    empty_form = property(_get_empty_form)
    # This updates one form's 'field' field queryset, if there is an organism with type
    # associated with the formset. Otherwise, make the choice list empty.
    def update_choices(self, form):
        if 'type' in self.data:
            id_fields = OrganismType.objects.get(pk=self.data['type']).id_fields.all()
        elif self.instance.pk and self.instance.type:
            id_fields = self.instance.type.id_fields.all()
            id_fields = IdentificationDetail.objects.none()
        form.fields['field'].queryset = id_fields

This process is something I’ve talked about before (and finding that post was what pointed the questioner in my direction), but I’ll discuss it again anyway. This is perhaps a more concrete example anyway.

We want to change the queryset available to a given field (in this case, confusingly called field), based on the value of a related object. In this case, we want to set the queryset of an identification detail’s field to all of the available identification fields on the related organism’s type. Whew!

As it turns out, it’s easier to see this in the code. Note also that if there is no selected organism type (as would be the case when an empty form is presented), no fields can be selected.

This alone would work: except that changing the organism’s type should change the available list of field types. There are two approaches that can be used: have all of the data available in the page somewhere, and use JavaScript to filter the available list of field types, or fetch the data dynamically from the server (again, using JavaScript) at the time the type is changed. If I were using something like KnockoutJS, then the former would be easier, and improve the responsiveness: the change would be immediate. Since I’m not using anything that doesn’t come with django, I’ll fetch the data on each change.

So, we are going to need some JavaScript. When we do the end-user page, it’s easy to see how to put that in, but we need to understand how to override django’s admin templates in order to inject it in this case.

The django documentation has some nice detail about how to do this: Overriding admin templates. In this case, we need to create a file within our app at templates/admin/organisms/organism/change_form.html. We want to just add data to the regular template, so we just inherit from it.

{% extends 'admin/change_form.html' %}

{% block after_related_objects %}
{{ block.super }}
      url: "/admin/organisms/organismtype/" + this.value + '/fields/',
      type: 'get',
      success: function(data) {
        $('tr.form-row td.field-field select').html(data);
{% endblock %}

The script here adds a change event handler to the organism type <select> element, that hits the server, and gets the list of fields for that type. It then sets the content of the inline identification detail field fields to the data the server returned. This clears whatever had been stored there previously, but that is probably the behaviour we want in this case. Note that I am hard-coding the URL for now: we’ll see a way to handle that in a better way later.

Only one thing remains: to actually write the view that returns the desired content of the <select> element. For now, we will put this into the admin class of the organism type. Again, later we’ll move this to a proper seperate view, but doing it this way shows how easy it is to extend the admin interface.

Back in our admin.py file, we want to change the OrganismTypeAdmin class:

# admin.py

from django.contrib import admin
from django.conf.urls import patterns, url
from django.http import HttpResponse

# [snip]

class OrganismTypeAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    inlines = [IdentificationFieldInline]
    def get_urls(self, **kwargs):
        urls = super(OrganismTypeAdmin, self).get_urls(**kwargs)
        urls = patterns('', 
            url(r'^(.*)/fields/$', self.get_fields, name='organisms_organismtype_fields'),
        ) + urls
        return urls
    urls = property(get_urls)
    def get_fields(self, request, *args, **kwargs):
        data = "<option value>---------</option>"
        if args[0]:
            data += "".join([
                "<option value='%(id)s'>%(name)s</option>" % x 
                for x in OrganismType.objects.get(pk=args[0]).id_fields.values()
        return HttpResponse(data)

We can use the fact that the admin model object provides its own urls, and we can override the method that generates them. We need to put our fields view before the existing ones (and allow empty strings where we want the primary key), else it will be matched by another route.

Finally, we write the view itself. If there was no primary key provided, we return a “null” option, otherwise we include that and the actual list of choices.

Doing it for real

Of course, in a real environment, we probably don’t want to give access to the admin interface to anyone but trusted users. And even then, limit that to as few as possible. In this case, I would suggest that the admin users would be creating the OrganismType objects, but creating Organism objects would be done by regular users. Which means we really only have a couple of pages that need to be written for the outside world:

  • View a list of organisms.
    • Filter the list of organisms by OrganismType
    • Search for an organism by common name or latin name
    • Search for an organism by some other means (feather colour, etc)
  • Create a new organism
  • Edit an existing organism
  • Fetch a list of field types for a given organism type (the get_fields view above.)

This may come in a future post: I had forgotten about this and need some time to get back into it.

jQuery long-poll for CouchDB changes.

I spent a bit of time this weekend playing with CouchDB. I think I have almost figured out how to do some stuff that had been bugging me. Coming to a document-based store after so much time and effort on relational DBMS does mean you really need to approach things from a different direction.

Our project is basically a multi-tenanted hosted application. Each customer has their own data, and within a relational model you basically have a field in each table that references the customer the data belongs to. Either that, or you have a seperate database and installation per-customer, but that doesn’t scale well on a system like ours that get intermittent use throughout the week.

I’m going to talk more about CouchDB and segmenting the data later, but the best solution is to have a single database per-customer. This makes more sense when you know how CouchDB works: a CouchDB database is a container for documents. Grouping these by customer means you can easily replicate one customer’s data, or move it to a different node.

One really nice feature of CouchDB is the changes feed. From this, you can subscribe to all of the changes that occur in a database, and this could be filtered (so a user would only be notified of changes to documents that they have read-access on, for instance).

This could potentially solve lots of problems that we have with different users from the same company working on the same roster at the same time, and those changes automatically appearing in everyone’s browser.

There are three types of change feeds that are interesting:

  1. The list of changes since I last checked (I send in a sequence number).
  2. The same, but handled using long-polling (I keep the request open until a change occurs).
  3. A continuous polling approach, where changes are sent to my open connection as they occur.

I really liked the sound of the last one, but $.stream, the only library I could find that did that for jQuery had some issues: like the fact is sent the request by POST, and that I couldn’t actually get it to see any data that was coming back in.

To solve the problem using #1, you could write some code that keeps track of the sequence number, and runs a request every X seconds. But I liked the idea of long-polling.

The idea I had was to run a request, and in the success handler, recursively call the function. To actually handle the incoming data, I thought that it might be a good solution to use jQuery events. I’m having them triggered on $(document), as I haven’t seen a standard way to do this. The other option might be on $(window), or a passed-in object.

User messaging with jQuery events

Something I seem to be re-implementing over and over again is a way of displaying user messages in response to user interactions. For instance, when form data is invalid, or a click on an element could not perform the desired action.

Using KnockoutJS, I had been using a messages object within my ViewModel, but that felt dirty: I always had to code in specific message handling. Having things hook into one another’s ViewModels became very messy.

The other day at work, I rediscovered django’s signals, and went a little nuts replacing other ways of doing things (often using callbacks) with signals. This becomes cleaner once you have multiple things that need to listen.

Signals are a bit like jQuery Events, and it occurred to me that I can do a nice messaging framework using them.

The general concept is this: you have an element in your page that you want to designate as the message display port. (Technically, you could have several: you can even set them up to filter, but that’s another story). You just set this up like (we’ll talk about the options later):

<div data-bind='messages: {}'></div>

Then, anywhere within your page, you have an element simply trigger an event. For instance, you might have this as an event handler:

// Foo
var eventHandler = function(evt) {
  var $target = $(evt.target);
  $target.trigger('message', {type: 'error', message: 'Oops!'});

It’s currently still under development. You can see where it is at now at messages.js. It is part of koui, which is a GUI framework that is built on top of KnockoutJS, but it can stand alone. It does depend on KO, ko.mapping, jQuery and underscore.js.

django and jQuery templates

KnockoutJS is a great way to create relationships between data objects, and interface elements. You can, for instance, bind a date value to an html input[type=date] element, and have it converted into a proper date object. You could then display data based on this, or do anything else you wanted.

KnockoutJS 1.2 (the currently stable version) defaults to using jQuery templates (jQuery-tmpl), which happen to use conflicting syntax to django templates.

For instance, if you were to have the following in your django template file:

{{if foo > bar }}
  <div>Stuff Here</div>
{{/if }}

Then django would attempt to process that, as it uses bits that look like django’s template engine’s value placeholder.

A workaround to this is to look at doing something like wrapping any jQuery templates in something that prevents django from interpreting it.

But I don’t like that solution. For starters, almost every text editor will try to syntax highlight data between <script> tags as javascript, even when explicitly marked as <script type="text/html"> or any other non-javascript mime type.

So, it would be nicest (and cleanest) to be able to have each jQuery template item in a separate file in my project.

Enter {% jquery_template %}. With a custom django templatetag, you can not only have it include the template in your django template, but it will automatically add the script tags, and even add an id.

For instance, you can do: <div class="highlight"><pre>{% jquery_template 'path/to/template.html' 'templateName' %} </pre> </div>

This will include the data from path/to/template.html, which it finds in any template location, but wrapped in <script type="text/html" id="templateName">.

I have a django app that contains this template tag, as well as some other useful stuff for jquery, and other javascript stuff (including knockoutjs). You can see this template tag at: jquery_template.py.

Hope it’s useful.

Knockout Collection

I am loving KnockoutJS. It makes it super easy to bind data values to UI elements in a declarative manner. You no longer have to worry about callbacks updating your data model and/or your view widgets.

The addition to KnockoutJS that I have been working on is a ‘collection’, that can be used to contain a set of objects, which can be fetched from a server, and each of which has it’s own resource URI that will be used to update or delete it.

For instance, we may have a collection URI:

GET "http://example.com/people/"

When we access this using a GET request, we might see something like:

 1 [
 2   {
 3     "first_name": "Adam",
 4     "last_name": "Smith",
 5     "links": [
 6       {"rel":"self", "uri": "http://example.com/people/552/"}
 7     ]
 8   },
 9   {
10     "first_name": "John",
11     "last_name": "Citizen",
12     "links": [
13       {"rel":"self", "uri": "http://example.com/people/32/"}
14     ]
15   }  
16 ]

Each linked resource contains the full (or as much as the logged-in user is able to see) representation. Example:

GET "http://example.com/people/552/"
1 {
2   "first_name": "Adam",
3   "last_name": "Smith",
4   "date_of_birth": "1910-02-11",
5   "email": "adam.smith@example.com",
6   "links": [
7     {"rel":"self", "uri": "http://example.com/people/552/"}
8   ]
9 }

Now, this is just the beginning. Obviously, we want to turn all of these fields into observables. I also wanted to know when any data had changed (so the “Save” button can be disabled when the object is not dirty). Clearly, being able to write the data back to the server, as well as create new objects, and delete them. Further, I needed to be able to do conditional reads and writes (only allow the object to be saved if no-one else has touched it since we last fetched it).

The place where the ko.mapping plugin broke down for me was that updating the resource from the full representation didn’t add the new fields that came back from the server. It may be that indeed this is possible (I think it is), but at the time, I could not see how to do this. It may be that I will rewrite this to use the ko.mapping stuff, but I’m not so sure right now.

Anyway, after a couple of revisions, I have a working framework.

To use it, you can just do:

 1 // Add a dependentObservable called 'name'.
 2 var processPerson = function(item) {
 3   item.name = ko.dependentObservable(function(){
 4     return item.first_name() + ' ' + item.last_name();
 5   });
 6 };
 8 var people = ko.collection({
 9   url: "http://example.com/people/",
10   processItem: processPerson
11 });

There is one main caveat at this stage:

  • It is expected that each object will have a ‘name’ property. If your server does not return one, you’ll need to setup a dependentObservable as shown in processPerson above.

First, the ko.collection object:

  1 ko.collection = function(options) {
  2   // Let jQuery know we always want JSON
  3   $.ajaxSetup({
  4     contentType: 'application/json',
  5     dataType: 'json',
  6     cache: false // This is browser cache! Needs to be set for Firefox.
  7   });
  9   options = options || {};
 10   var url = options.url;                  // Allow passing in a url.
 11   var processItem = options.processItem;  // Allow passing in a function to process each item after it is fetched.
 12   var etag;
 15   // Initial setup. We need to set these early so we can access them, even
 16   // if we have no data for them.
 17   var self = {
 18     items: ko.observableArray([]),
 19     selectedItem: ko.observable(null),
 20     selectedIndexes: ko.observableArray([]),
 21     filters: ko.observable({})
 22   };
 24   /*
 25   Message handling.
 27   We have a messages observableArray, but we use this dependent observable
 28   to access it. This allows us to have messages that expire.
 30   self.messages() => provide access to the array of messages.
 31   self.messages({
 32     type: "error|notice|warning|whatever",    => This will usually be used to apply a class
 33     message: "Text of message",               => This text will be displayed
 34     timeout: 1500                             => If this is non-zero, message expires (and 
 35                                                  is automatically removed after this many 
 36                                                  milliseconds)
 37   });
 39   Every message object gets given a callback function (.remove()), that,
 40   when executed, well immediately remove that message, and get rid of the
 41   timer that normally removes that message after timeout.
 43   The messages object is also given a flush() function, that will remove
 44   all of the messages within it.
 46   Not sure if I should move this to a seperate plugin?
 47   */
 48   var messages = ko.observableArray([]);
 49   self.messages = ko.dependentObservable({
 50     read: function() {
 51       return messages();
 52     },
 53     write: function(message) {
 54       var timeout;
 55       message.remove = function() {
 56         messages.remove(message);
 57         clearTimeout(timeout);
 58       };
 59       messages.remove(function(item) {
 60         return item.message === message.message;
 61       });
 62       messages.push(message);
 63       if (message.timeout) {
 64         timeout = setTimeout(function(){
 65           messages.remove(message);
 66         }, message.timeout);
 67       }
 68     }
 69   });
 70   self.messages.flush = function() {
 71     $.each(messages, function(message){
 72       message.remove();
 73     });
 74   };
 76   /*
 77   filteredItems : a subset of self.items() that has been passed through
 78                   all of the self.filters(), and selects only those that
 79                   match. A filter must be an object of the form:
 80                   {
 81                     value: ko.observable(""),
 82                     attr: "name",
 83                     test: function(test_value, obj_value) {}
 84                   }
 86                   The filtering code handles getting the correct values to
 87                   pass to the test function, the attr is the name of the 
 88                   attribute on each member of self.items() that will be
 89                   tested.
 90                   Having 'value' passed in means we can have a default
 91                   value when app starts.
 92   */
 93   self.filteredItems = ko.dependentObservable(function() {
 94     var filteredItems = self.items();
 95     $.each(self.filters(), function(name, filt){
 96       filteredItems = ko.utils.arrayFilter(filteredItems, function(item){
 97         if (!filt.attr || !item[filt.attr]) {
 98           return true;
 99         }
100         return filt.test(filt.value(), item[filt.attr]());
101       });
102     });
103     return filteredItems;
104   });
106   /*
107     This is really only used by a select[multiple] object, and is used in
108     conjunction with selectedIndexes.
110     TODO: make this a writeable dependentObservable.
111   */
112   self.selectedItems = ko.dependentObservable(function() {
113     return self.items().filter(function(el){
114       return $.inArray(self.items().indexOf(el), self.selectedIndexes()) >= 0;
115     });
116   });
118   /*
119     Filter self.items() finding only those that have at least one attribute
120     that is marked as dirty.
121   */
122   self.dirtyItems = ko.dependentObservable(function() {
123     return self.items().filter(function(el){
124       return el.isDirty();
125     });
126   });
128   /*
129     Filter self.items(), finding only those that have at least one attribute
130     marked as conflicted.
131   */
132   self.conflictedItems = ko.dependentObservable(function() {
133     return self.items().filter(function(el){
134       return el.hasConflicts();
135     });
136   });
138   self.setSource = function(newUrl) {
139     url = newUrl;
140   };
142   /*
143     Fetch all items from the url we have for the index.
145     It is allowable that the index does not return the full body of each
146     item, but instead only contains perhaps a name, and links for that
147     item. Then, we can use self.selectedItem().fetch() to get the full
148     data for the item.
149   */
150   self.fetchItems = function() {
151     if (!url) {
152       return;
153     }
154     var headers = {};
155     if (etag) {
156       headers['If-None-Match'] = etag;
157     }
158     $.ajax({
159       url: url,
160       type: "get",
161       headers: headers,
162       statusCode: {
163         200: function(data, textStatus, jqXHR) {
164           // Successful. If we already had objects, then
165           // we need to update that list.
166           $.each(self.items(), function(i, item){
167             // Is there an item in the new data items list that matches
168             // the item we are now looking at?
169             var matchingItem = data.filter(function(el){
170               links = el.links.filter(function(link){
171                 return link.rel==="self";
172               });
173               return links[0] && links[0].uri === item._url();
174             })[0];
175             if (matchingItem) {
176               // Update the item that matched.
177               item.updateData(matchingItem);
178               if (processItem) {
179                 processItem(item);
180               }
181               // Remove from data.
182               data.splice(data.indexOf(matchingItem), 1);
183               // Not sure if this should be here.
184               // item.isDirty(false);
185             } else {
186               // Not found in incoming data: remove from our local store.
187               // Will this break $.each(self.items(), ...) ?
188               self.items.remove(item);
189             }
190           });
192           // Any items that we have left in data (which will be all if we
193           // haven't loaded this up before) now need to be added to items().
194           // On a clean fetch, this will be the first code that is run.
195           $.each(data, function(i, el){
196             var item = ko.collectionItem(el, self);
197             if (processItem) {
198               processItem(item, el);
199             }
200             self.items.push(item);
201           });
203           // Finally, update the etag.
204           etag = jqXHR.getResponseHeader('Etag');
205         }
206       }
207     });
208   };
210   /*
211     A shortcut method that allows us to bind an action to fetch the
212     data from the server for the currently selected item.
213   */
214   self.fetchSelectedItemDetail = function(evt) {
215     if (self.selectedItem && self.selectedItem()) {
216       self.selectedItem().fetch();
217     }
218   };
220   /*
221     Create an item. I haven't implemented this yet, because I haven't 
222     figured out a way to see what fields are needed to be created when
223     there are no currently loaded items. I'm thinking about using a
224     Wizard in my application, so this might be overridden by the app.
225   */
226   self.createItem = function(evt) {
227     console.log("ADDING ITEM (NOT FINISHED YET)");
228     // The trick here is knowing what fields need to be created.
229     // self.items.push(ko.collectionItem({}));
230   };
232   /*
233     Permanently remove the selectedItem, and delete it on the server.
234   */
235   self.removeSelectedItem = function(evt) {
236     if (self.selectedItem && self.selectedItem()) {
237       var sure = confirm("This will permanently remove " + self.selectedItem().name());
238       if (sure){
239         self.selectedItem().destroy();        
240       }
241     }
242   };
244   /*
245     Iterate through self.items(), finding those that match all of the data
246     we pass in.
248     For instance, you can do things like: 
250       viewModel.findMatchingItems({date_of_birth: "1995-01-01"})
252     This is used internally to find matches for objects when updating. Not
253     sure why it is exposed as a public member function though.
254   */
255   self.findMatchingItems = function(options) {
256     return self.items().filter(function(el){
257       var match = true;
258       $.each(options, function(opt, val) {
259         if (el[opt]() !== val) {
260           // Returning false causes $.each to stop, too.
261           return match = false;
262         }
263       });
264       return match;
265     });
266   };
268   if (url) {
269     self.fetchItems();
270   }
272   return ko.observable(self);
273 };

Second, the ko.collectionItem object. This may be eventually hidden in the collection object, as it isn’t really intended to be used seperately.

  1 ko.collectionItem = function(initialData, parentCollection) {
  2   var self = {
  3     isFetched: ko.observable(false)
  4   };
  5   var links = [];
  6   var etag = null;
  7   var url = null;
  8   var attributes = ko.observableArray([]);
  9   var collection = parentCollection;
 10   var dirtyFlag = ko.observable(false);
 12   /* Private methods */
 14   /*
 15     Given the incoming 'data' for this object, look through the fields for
 16     things that differ between the server representation and the client
 17     representation. Store both values for any differences in an attribute
 18     of the observable called conflicts().
 20     For each conflict, create a member function on the observable that
 21     allows you to resolve the conflict. When the last conflict is resolved,
 22     our etag is updated to the value the server gave us.
 24     This method returns true if all conflicts could be resolved (ie, the
 25     data in all fields was the same, just the etag had changed).
 26   */
 27   var parseConflicts = function(data, newEtag) {
 28     $.each(data, function(attr, value){
 29       if (attr !== "links") {
 30         if ($.compare(value, self[attr]() === undefined ? "" : self[attr]())) {
 31           // Server and client values match.
 32           // We need to do some funky stuff with undefined values, and treat
 33           // them as "". I don't really like this, but it works for now.
 34           self[attr].conflicts([]);
 35           self[attr].resolveConflict = function(){};
 36         } else {
 37           self[attr].conflicts([value, self[attr]() === undefined ? "" : self[attr]()]);
 38           self[attr].resolveConflict = function(chosenValue) {
 39             // Mark the entire object as dirty, so we can allow it to be
 40             // saved, even if we set it to the original value we had (which
 41             // differed from the server's value).
 42             self.isDirty(true);
 43             self[attr](chosenValue);
 44             self[attr].conflicts([]);
 45             if (!self.hasConflicts()) {
 46               // If this was the last conflict, we can use the new etag from
 47               // the server.
 48               etag = newEtag;
 49             }
 50           };
 51         }        
 52       }
 53     });
 54     var conflicts = self.hasConflicts();
 55     if (!conflicts) {
 56       etag = newEtag;
 57     }
 58     return !conflicts;
 59   };
 61   /*
 62   Given an object containing errors, we want to apply each of these
 63   errors onto the relevant field. We want to remove any errors that are
 64   already on any field.
 66   If we have any errors leftover, we need to notify globally, using the
 67   parentCollection's messages object.
 68   */
 69   var markErrors = function(errors) {
 70     $.each(attributes(), function(i,attr){
 71       if (!self[attr].errors) {
 72         self[attr].errors = ko.observableArray([]);
 73       }
 74       if (errors[attr]) {
 75         self[attr].errors(errors[attr]);
 76         delete errors[attr];
 77       } else {
 78         self[attr].errors([]);
 79       }
 80     });
 82     $.each(errors, function(field){
 83       parentCollection.messages({type:"error", message: field + ": " + errors[field].join("<br>"), timeout: 3000});
 84     });
 85   };
 87   /*
 88     Get the attributes ready for sending to the server.
 90     We can't just iterate through properties, as some will not apply. We
 91     use the convention that we will only send back properties that the
 92     server sent to us.
 93   */
 94   var prepareAttributes = function() {
 95     var data = {};
 96     $.each(attributes(), function(i,attr){
 97       data[attr] = self[attr]();
 98     });
 99     return data;
100   };
101   /* Public methods */
103   /*
104     Update the data fields associated with this object from the provided
105     data.
107     This may create new attributes, which need to be noted so we can send
108     those values back to the server.
110     We can mark all updated attributes as not dirty, not conflicted, and
111     not having errors.
112   */
113   self.updateData = function(data) {
114     if (data.links) {
115       // We want to store the links, but not attach them to the object.
116       links = data.links;
117       delete data.links;
118       $.each(links, function(i, obj){
119         if (obj.rel === "self") {
120           url = obj.uri;
121         }
122       });
123     }
125     $.each(data, function(attr, value){
126       if (attributes().indexOf(attr) < 0) {
127         self[attr] = ko.observable(value);
128         self[attr].errors = ko.observableArray([]);
129         self[attr].conflicts = ko.observableArray([]);
130         ko.dirtyFlag(self[attr], false);
131         // Need to add this last to cause the dirtyFields dependentObservable
132         // to work correctly when editing the last field.
133         attributes.push(attr);
134       } else {
135         self[attr](value);
136         self[attr].errors([]);
137         self[attr].conflicts([]);
138         self[attr].isDirty.reset();
139       }
140     });
141     // Put the links back in case a post-processor needs them.
142     data.links = links;
143   };
145   self.serialize = function(evt) {
146     return JSON.stringify(prepareAttributes());
147   };
149   /*
150     Discard any local changes, and pull the data from the server.
151   */
152   self.revert = function(evt) {
153     etag = null;
154     self.fetch();
155     parentCollection.messages({type:'warning', message:'The object "' + self.name() + '" was reverted to the version stored on the server.', timeout: 5000});
156   };
158   /*
159     Attempt to save the data to the server.
161     Only permitted to do this if we have successfully fetched the data
162     at some point.
164     Notes: We use POST instead of PUT, in case we do not have access to
165            all of the fields of the object. PUT implies the complete resource
166            is being updated.
167            Errors may come back in {'field-errors': []}, or {'detail':[]}.
168            Currently, this makes assumptions about server type, which are
169            bad. I need to refactor the error handling code. (400,409)
170            Precondition Failed (412) needs to be handled differently, as
171            we need to fetch the data from the server if none was provided
172            as to the current state of the resource.
174   */
175   self.save = function(evt) {
176     if (self.isFetched()) {
177       $.ajax({
178         url: url,
179         type: 'post', // We can't PUT in case we don't know about all fields.
180         headers: {'If-Match': etag},
181         data: self.serialize(),
182         statusCode: {
183           200: function(data, textStatus, jqXHR) {
184             // Object saved.
185             // Incase some fields were reformatted by the server, redo our data.
186             self.updateData(data);
187             etag = jqXHR.getResponseHeader('Etag');
188             parentCollection.messages({type:'success', message:'The object "' + self.name() + '" was saved.', timeout: 2500});
189             self.isDirty(false);
190           },
191           201: function(data, textStatus, jqXHR) {
192             // Object saved for the first time (created)
193             // Incase some fields were reformatted by the server, redo our data.
194             self.updateData(data);
195             etag = jqXHR.getResponseHeader('Etag');
196             url = jqXHR.getResponseHeader('Location');
197             parentCollection.messages({type:'success', message:'The object "' + self.name() + '" was created.', timeout: 2500});
198             self.isDirty(false);
199           },
200           400: function(jqXHR, textStatus, errorThrown) {
201             var data = JSON.parse(jqXHR.responseText);
202             if (data['field-errors']) {
203               markErrors(data['field-errors']);
204             }
205             parentCollection.messages({type:'error', message:'The object "' + self.name() + '" could not be saved. Please check the highlighted field(s).', timeout: 10000});
206           },
207           409: function(jqXHR, textStatus, errorThrown) {
208             // Errors saving the data. Likely to be validation errors.
209             // We should have a detail object with info to display.
210             var data = JSON.parse(jqXHR.responseText);
211             if (data.detail) {
212               markErrors(data.detail);
213             }
214             parentCollection.messages({type:'error', message:'The object "' + self.name() + '" could not be saved. Please check the highlighted field(s).', timeout: 10000});
215           },
216           412: function(jqXHR, textStatus, errorThrown) {
217             // Data was changed on server since we last fetched it.
218             // There may be conflicts to deal with.
219             // See if the server gave us a current version back...
220             var data, serverEtag;
221             if (jqXHR.responseText) {
222               data = JSON.parse(jqXHR.responseText);
223             } else {
224               $.ajax({
225                 url: url,
226                 async: false,
227                 success: function(newData, textStatus, jqXHR) {
228                   data = newData;
229                   serverEtag = jqXHR.getResponseHeader('Etag');
230                 }
231               });
232             }
233             if (parseConflicts(data, serverEtag)) {
234               // We were able to resolve all of the conflicts, now we can
235               // try to re-save; but only if it was the first time we saved,
236               // to prevent inifinite recursion.
237               if (evt) {
238                 self.save();
239               }
240             } else {
241               parentCollection.messages({type:'error', message:'The object "' + self.name() + '" has been modified on the server. Please check the changed field(s) and select the appropriate value(s).', timeout: 10000});
242             }
243           }
244         }
245       });
246     }
247   };
249   /*
250     Permanently delete the object from the server.
251   */
252   self.destroy = function(evt) {
253     if (self.isFetched() && etag) {
254       console.log("DELETING ITEM");
255       $.ajax({
256         url: url,
257         type: 'delete',
258         headers: {'If-Match': etag},
259         success: function(data, textStatus, jqXHR) {
260           if (collection) {
261             collection.items.remove(self);
262           }
263           parentCollection.messages({type:'success', message:'The object "' + self.name() + '" was deleted.', timeout: 2500});
264         },
265         error: function(jqXHR, textStatus, errorThrown) {
266           // Display error message about not being able to delete?
267           parentCollection.messages({type:'error', message:'The object "' + self.name() + '" could not be deleted.', timeout: 10000});
268         }
269       });
270     }
271   };
273   /*
274     (Re)Fetch the resource from the server.
276     Handle conflicts if the arise (when the object has already been fetchd)
277   */
278   self.fetch = function(evt) {
279     var headers = {};
280     if (etag) {
281       headers['If-None-Match'] = etag;
282     }
283     $.ajax({
284       type: 'get',
285       url: url,
286       headers: headers,
287       statusCode: {
288         200: function(data, textStatus, jqXHR) {
289           // If we have an etag already, this means the object has been
290           // updated on the server, and we need to look for conflicts.
291           if (etag) {
292             var serverEtag = jqXHR.getResponseHeader('Etag');
293             // If we were unable to handle all conflicts, we need to exit.
294             if (!parseConflicts(data, serverEtag)) {
295               parentCollection.messages({type:'error', message:'The object "' + self.name() + '" has been modified on the server. Please check the changed field(s) and select the appropriate value(s).', timeout: 10000});
296               return;
297             };
298           }
300           // Otherwise, we can update the data and the etag.
301           self.updateData(data);
302           etag = jqXHR.getResponseHeader('Etag');
303           self.isFetched(true);
304         },
305         304: function() {
306         }
307       },
308       error: function(jqXHR, textStatus, errorThrown) {
309         parentCollection.messages({type:"error", message:"There was an error fetching the data from the server"});
310       }
311     });
312   };
316   /* Dependent Observables */
317   self.dirtyFields = ko.dependentObservable(function(){
318     return ko.utils.arrayFilter(attributes(), function(attr){
319       return self[attr] && self[attr].isDirty && self[attr].isDirty();
320     });
321   });
323   self.conflictedFields = ko.dependentObservable(function() {
324     return ko.utils.arrayFilter(attributes(), function(attr){
325       return self[attr] && self[attr].conflicts && self[attr].conflicts().length > 0;
326     });
327   });
329   var filterAttributes = function(property) {
330     return function() {
331       return ko.utils.arrayFilter(attributes(), function(attr){
332         return self[attr] && self[attr][property] && self[attr][property]().length > 0;
333       }).length > 0;
334     };      
335   };
337   self.hasErrors = ko.dependentObservable(filterAttributes('errors'));
338   self.hasConflicts = ko.dependentObservable(filterAttributes('conflicts'));
340   /*
341     An object is dirty when:
342       - any of its fields/attributes are dirty. (we aks them), OR
343       - we have explicitly marked it as dirty.
345     We need to do the latter for when we have merged a conflict, by choosing
346     our value, which differed from the server. The local model would
347     normally think it wasn't dirty, but it differs from the server, and
348     does need to be saved.
349   */
350   self.isDirty = ko.dependentObservable({
351     read: function() {
352       return self.dirtyFields().length > 0 || dirtyFlag();
353     },
354     write: function(value) {
355       dirtyFlag(value);
356       if (!value) {
357         $.each(attributes(), function(attr){
358           if (self[attr] && self[attr].isDirty) {
359             console.log(attr);
360             self[attr].isDirty.reset();          
361           }
362         });
363       }
364     }
365   });
367   /*
368     Can this object be saved back to the server?
369     Only when it is dirty, and has been fetched.
370   */
371   self.canSave = ko.dependentObservable(function() {
372     return self.isDirty() && self.isFetched();
373   });
375   self._etag = function(){return etag;};
376   self._attributes = function(){ return attributes();};
377   self._url = function() {return url;};
379   if (initialData) {
380     self.updateData(initialData);
381   }
383   return self;
384 };