KnockoutJS dirty extender.

Ryan Niemeyer is the man with respect to most things KnockoutJS, and I had been using a version of his smart dirty flag in some projects. I recall making it so it didn’t have to bind to a secondary property, but I may be mistaken.

Anyway, with Knockout 2.0, we get extenders. Now, it’s possible to do things like:

var thing = ko.observable(null).extend({dirty: true});

It will then look for ko.extenders.dirty, and call that function with two arguments: the observable, and the argument (in this case, true).

Thus, it is possible to re-implement his dirty flag as an extender:

ko.extenders.dirty = function(target, startDirty) {
  var cleanValue = ko.observable(ko.mapping.toJSON(target));
  var dirtyOverride = ko.observable(ko.utils.unwrapObservable(startDirty));
  target.isDirty = ko.computed(function(){
    return dirtyOverride() || ko.mapping.toJSON(target) !== cleanValue();
  target.markClean = function(){
  target.markDirty = function(){
  return target;

The advantage I think mine has over Ryan’s is that you can mark an observable as dirty (thing.markDirty()), and it will stay dirty until you explicitly mark it as clean (thing.markClean()).

Otherwise, it’s just: thing.isDirty() and you are all good.

Alternatively, you could remove the two helper functions, and implement .isDirty() as a writeable observable, that tests the incoming value and sets the internal cleanValue if it needs to.