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Ember Template

Ember templates are simply Handlebars files. I’m going to cover some of the basics of Handlebars and some of the unique Handlebars helpers that Ember provides.

In our app we’re going to use Emblem, which compiles to Handlebars. To help aid your learning I will show these examples in both Handlebars and Emblem.

Outputting Controller Properties

Templates have direct access to controller properties. Just throw ‘em in:


Name: {{name}}


| Name:

Emblem expects the first word on each line to be either a controller property, a Handlebars helper, or an html tag, so if you want to immediately output plain text then use a pipe: |. Emblem parses everything after a pipe as a string.

Outputting View Properties

The template also has access to view properties, but you must prefix calls to them with view. For example:


Name: {{view.someViewProperty}}


| Name:

If, Else, Unless

Handlebars gives you if, else and unless. They only accept a single argument:


{{#if isBirthday}}
  <div class="celebrate">Happy Birthday!</div>
  <div class="too_bad">Nope.</div>


if isBirthday
  .celebrate Happy Birthday!
  .too_bad Nope.

There are no ands or ors allowed in Handlebars. It is designed to contain zero application logic. If you need some kind of combined boolean then you need to do it in the controller.

You can use nested if statements, but that gets ugly quickly.

The above example really shows why I prefer Emblem. That’s 112 characters for the Handlebars version and 57 for Emblem. That’s almost one half the code! Less code, as long as it’s readable, is always a win in my book.


Handlebars offers two ways to loop through things. The first gives you access to the current object as this:


{{#each users}}

In Emblem the call to this is implicit. However, you still have access to this if you need it.

each users

The second way to do loops is to name the object:


{{#each user in users}}


each user in users

If you are iterating over records from an ArrayController, which is extremely common, you just pass it controller:


each user in controller

I think by now you may be getting the idea of Handlebars, so I’m going to switch to just showing Emblem.

Render, View, and Partial Helpers

Templates come with helpers that allow you to render another controller, view or template. This helps you reuse and compartmentalize logic.

The render helper calls a controller:

render 'user'

This will look for UserController and instantiate it. The controller will then look for UserView, and a user template, as per the usual Ember Object Flow.

You can optionally pass the render method a model object:

render 'user' model

The view helper calls a view:

view 'user'

This would look for UserView, which would then look for a template named user. Using the view helpers means that Ember will not instantiate a controller, it will skip it.

The partial helper only calls a template:

partial 'user'

This would render the user template inside the current template. It would not use the controller or view. Unlike Rails, Ember does not expect your template to be prefixed with an underscore.

As you can see, the render, view, and partial helpers enable you to compartmentalize code as much as you need. If you only need to show additional markup, just use partial. If you need markup with some javascript attached, use view. If you need markup that has access to its own set of properties and actions, then you’ll need to use render.

The Ember docs provide a great comparison table that helps explain how these helpers differ.


You can specify what are called actions on any element in a template. Actions will call a function in the controller of the same name:

h1 click="tickle" Tickle Me

This would call a tickle method in the controller when a user clicks on the h1. The method must be defined inside an actions object:

App.MyController = Ember.Controller.extend

    tickle: -> alert('hahaha')
App.MyController = Ember.Controller.extend({

  actions: {
    tickle: function() { alert('hahaha') }


The Link-To Helper

Ember provides a link-to helper that will transition you to a different route. You pass it the name of the route and any models that you need to send along.

Say you had an array controller that gave you a list of users, and you wanted to provide a link to each one. Here’s how you’d do that:

each userRecord in controller
  link-to 'user' userRecord

Ok, now that we’ve covered Routes, Controllers, Views and Templates, we can actually build something!

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