A flexible, customisable form framework for Backbone.JS applications.

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A flexible, customisable form framework for Backbone.js applications.
  • Simple schema definition to auto-generate forms
  • Validation
  • Nested forms
  • Advanced and custom editors (e.g. NestedModel, List, Date, DateTime)
  • Custom HTML templates

Example: Quickly generate forms to edit models

var User = Backbone.Model.extend({
    schema: {
        title:      { type: 'Select', options: ['Mr', 'Mrs', 'Ms'] },
        name:       'Text',
        email:      { validators: ['required', 'email'] },
        birthday:   'Date',
        password:   'Password',
        address:    { type: 'NestedModel', model: Address },
        notes:      { type: 'List', itemType: 'Text' }

var user = new User();

var form = new Backbone.Form({
    model: user


Example: Fully customise forms and templates

<script id="formTemplate" type="text/html">
        <h1>New User</h1>
        <h2>Main Info</h2>
        <div data-fields="title,name,birthday"></div>
        <h2>Account Info</h2>
        <div data-fields="email"></div>

        <p>Must be at least 8 characters long</p>
        <div data-editors="password"></div>

var UserForm = Backbone.Form.extend({
    template: _.template($('#formTemplate').html()),
    schema: {
        title:      { type: 'Select', options: ['Mr', 'Mrs', 'Ms'] },
        name:       'Text',
        email:      { validators: ['required', 'email'] },
        password:   'Password'

var form = new UserForm({
    model: new User()


Live editable demos


Table of Contents:

- Text - Checkboxes - Select - Radio - Object - NestedModel - Date - DateTime - List - Editors without forms - Using nested fields - Custom editors - Help - Changelog



Include backbone-forms.js:
<script src="backbone-forms/distribution/backbone-forms.min.js"></script>
Optionally, you can include the extra editors, for example the List editor:
<script src="backbone-forms/distribution/editors/list.min.js"></script>
To use a custom template pack, e.g. Bootstrap, include the relevant files after backbone-forms.js.
<script src="backbone-forms/distribution/templates/bootstrap.js"></script>
<link href="backbone-forms/distribution/templates/bootstrap.css" rel="stylesheet" />
If you use Backbone with browserify or node.js, you can just require('backbone-forms'); in your index file. If doing this you will need to set Backbone.$, e.g. Backbone.$ = require('jquery').
Note there is also a distribution file for RequireJS / AMD.
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Forms are generated from a schema, which can be defined on the form itself or on a model.
The schema keys should match the attributes that get set on the model. type defaults to Text. When you don't need to specify any options you can use the shorthand by passing the editor name as a string. See
schema definition for more information.
var User = Backbone.Model.extend({
    schema: {
        title:      { type: 'Select', options: ['Mr', 'Mrs', 'Ms'] },
        name:       'Text',
        email:      { validators: ['required', 'email'] },
        birthday:   'Date',
        password:   'Password',
        address:    { type: 'NestedModel', model: Address },
        notes:      { type: 'List', itemType: 'Text' }

var user = new User();

var form = new Backbone.Form({
    model: user


Once the user is done with the form, call form.commit() to apply the updated values to the model. If there are validation errors they will be returned. See validation for more information.
var errors = form.commit(); // runs schema validation
var errors = form.commit({ validate: true }); // runs schema and model validation
To update a field after the form has been rendered, use form.setValue:
model.on('change:name', function(model, name) {
    form.setValue({ name: name });

Usage without models

You can create a form without tying it to a model. For example, to create a form for a simple object of data:
var form = new Backbone.Form({
    schema: {
        id:         'Number',
        name:       'Text',
        password:   'Password'
    //Data to populate the form with
    data: {
      id: 123,
      name: 'Rod Kimble',
      password: 'cool beans'

Then instead of form.commit(), do:
var data = form.getValue(); //Returns object with new form values

Initial data

If a form has a model attached to it, the initial values are taken from the model's defaults. Otherwise, you may pass default values using the
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  • model

The model to tie the form to. Calling form.commit() will update the model with new values.
  • data

If not using the model option, pass a native object through the data option. Then use form.getValue() to get the new values.
  • schema

The schema to use to create the form. Pass it in if you don't want to store the schema on the model, or to override the model schema.
  • fieldsets

An array of fieldsets descriptions. A fieldset is either a list of field names, or an object with legend and fields attributes. The legend will be inserted at the top of the fieldset inside a <legend> tag; the list of fields will be treated as fields is below. fieldsets takes priority over fields.
  • fields

An array of field names (keys). Only the fields defined here will be added to the form. You can also use this to re-order the fields.
  • submitButton {String}

If provided, creates a submit button at the bottom of the form using the provided text
  • idPrefix

A string that will be prefixed to the form DOM element IDs. Useful if you will have multiple forms on the same page. E.g. idPrefix: 'user-' will result in IDs like 'user-name', 'user-email', etc.
If not defined, the model's CID will be used as a prefix to avoid conflicts when there are multiple instances of the form on the page. To override this behaviour, pass a null value to idPrefix.
  • template

The compiled template to use for generating the form.


Backbone.Form fires the following events:
  • change

This event is triggered whenever something happens that affects the result of form.getValue().
  • focus

This event is triggered whenever this form gains focus, i.e. when the input of an editor within this form becomes the document.activeElement.
  • blur

This event is triggered whenever this form loses focus, i.e. when the input of an editor within this form stops being the document.activeElement.
  • <key>:<event>

Events fired by editors within this form will bubble up and be fired as <key>:<event>.
form.on('title:change', function(form, titleEditor, extra) {
    console.log('Title changed to "' + titleEditor.getValue() + '".');
    // where extra is an array of extra arguments that
    // a custom editor might need
  • submit

Fired when the form is submitted. The native Event is passed as an argument, so you can do event.preventDefault() to stop the form from submitting.
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Schema definition

The schema defined on your model can be the schema object itself, or a function that returns a schema object. This can be useful if you're referencing variables that haven't been initialized yet.
The following default editors are included:

Main attributes

For each field definition in the schema you can use the following optional attributes:
  • type

The editor to use in the field. Can be a string for any editor that has been added to Backbone.Form.editors, such as the built-in editors (e.g. { type: 'TextArea' }), or can be a constructor function for a custom editor (e.g. : { type: MyEditor }).
If not defined, defaults to 'Text'.
  • title

Defines the text that appears in a form field's <label>. If not defined, defaults to a formatted version of the camelCased field key. E.g. firstName becomes First Name. This behaviour can be changed by assigning your own function to Backbone.Form.helpers.keyToTitle.
  • validators

A list of validators. See Validation for more information
  • help

Help text to add next to the editor.
  • editorClass

String of CSS class name(s) to add to the editor
  • editorAttrs

A map of attributes to add to the editor, e.g. { maxlength: 30, title: 'Tooltip help' }
  • fieldClass

String of CSS class name(s) to add to the field
  • fieldAttrs

A map of attributes to add to the field, e.g. { style: 'background: red', title: 'Tooltip help' }
  • template

Name of the template to use for this field. See Customising templates for more information.

Main events

Every editor fires the following events:
  • change

This event is triggered whenever something happens that affects the result of editor.getValue().
  • focus

This event is triggered whenever this editor gains focus, i.e. when an input within this editor becomes the document.activeElement.
  • blur

This event is triggered whenever this editor loses focus, i.e. when an input within this editor stops being the document.activeElement.
Besides these three, editors can implement custom events, which are described below.
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Creates a normal text input.
  • dataType

Changes the type="text" attribute. Used for HTML5 form inputs such as url, tel, email. When viewing on a mobile device e.g. iOS, this will change the type of keyboard that is opened. For example, tel opens a numeric keypad.


Creates and populates a <select> element.
  • options

Options to populate the <select>.
Can be any of:
- String of HTML `<option>`s
- Array of strings/numbers
- An array of option groups in the form `[{group: 'Option Group Label', options: <any of the forms from this list (except the option groups)>}]`
- Array of objects in the form `{ val: 123, label: 'Text' }`
- A Backbone collection
- A function that calls back with one of the above
- An object e.g. `{ y: 'Yes', n: 'No' }`
Backbone collection notes
If using a Backbone collection as the options attribute, models in the collection must implement a toString() method. This populates the label of the <option>. The ID of the model populates the value attribute.
If there are no models in the collection, it will be fetch()ed.


  • setOptions()

Update the options in the select. Accepts any of the types that can be set in the schema options


var schema = {
    country: { type: 'Select', options: new CountryCollection() }

var schema = {
    users: { type: 'Select', options: function(callback, editor) {
        users = db.getUsers();


// Option groups (each group's option can be specified differently)
var schema = {
  options: [
    { group: 'Cities', options: ['Paris', 'Beijing']},
    { group: 'Countries', options: new Collection(objects)},
    { group: 'Food', options: '<option>Bread</option>'}


Creates and populates a list of radio inputs. Behaves the same way and has the same options as a Select.


Creates and populates a list of checkbox inputs. Behaves the same way and has the same options as a Select. To set defaults for this editor, use an array of values.


The Object editor creates an embedded child form representing a Javascript object.


  • subSchema

A schema object which defines the field schema for each attribute in the object


  • <key>:<event>

Events fired by editors within this Object editor will bubble up and be fired as <key>:<event>.


var schema = {
    address: { type: 'Object', subSchema: {
        street: {},
        zip: { type: 'Number' },
        country: { 'Select', options: countries }

addressEditor.on('zip:change', function(addressEditor, zipEditor) {
    console.log('Zip changed to "' + zipEditor.getValue() + '".');


Used to embed models within models. Similar to the Object editor, but adds validation of the child form (if it is defined on the model), and keeps your schema cleaner.


  • model

A reference to the constructor function for your nested model. The referenced model must have it's own schema attribute


  • <key>:<event>

Events fired by editors within this NestedModel editor will bubble up and be fired as <key>:<event>.


var schema = {
    address: { type: 'NestedModel', model: Address }

addressEditor.on('zip:change', function(addressEditor, zipEditor) {
    console.log('Zip changed to "' + zipEditor.getValue() + '".');


Creates <select>s for date, month and year.
  • yearStart

First year in the list. Default: 100 years ago
  • yearEnd

Last year in the list. Default: current year

Extra options

You can customise the way this editor behaves, throughout your app:
var editors = Backbone.Form.editors;

editors.Date.showMonthNames = false; //Defaults to true
editors.Date.monthNames = ['Jan', 'Feb', ...] //Defaults to full month names in English


Creates a Date editor and adds <select>s for time (hours and minutes).
  • minsInterval

Optional. Controls the numbers in the minutes dropdown. Defaults to 15, so it is populated with 0, 15, 30, and 45 minutes.


Creates a list of items that can be added, removed and edited. Used to manage arrays of data.
This is a special editor which is in a separate file and must be included:
<script src="backbone-forms/distribution/editors/list.min.js" />
If using the Object or NestedModel itemType, you will need to include a modal adapter on the page.
Backbone.BootstrapModal is provided for this purpose. It must be included on the page:
<script src="backbone-forms/distribution/adapters/backbone.bootstrap-modal.min.js" />


  • itemType

Defines the editor that will be used for each item in the list. Similar in use to the main 'type' schema attribute. Defaults to 'Text'.
  • confirmDelete

Optional. Text to display in a delete confirmation dialog. If falsey, will not ask for confirmation.
  • itemToString

A function that returns a string representing how the object should be displayed in a list item.
Optional, but recommended when using itemType 'Object'. When itemType is 'NestedModel', the model's toString() method will be used, unless a specific itemToString() function is defined on the schema.


  • add

This event is triggered when a new item is added to the list.
  • remove

This event is triggered when an existing item is removed from the list.
  • item:<event>

Events fired by any item's editor will bubble up and be fired as item:<event>.


function userToName(user) {
    return user.firstName + ' ' + user.lastName;

var schema = {
    users: { type: 'List', itemType: 'Object', itemToString: userToName }

listEditor.on('add', function(listEditor, itemEditor) {
    console.log('User with first name "' + itemEditor.getValue().firstName + '" added.');

listEditor.on('item:focus', function(listEditor, itemEditor) {
    console.log('User "' + userToName(itemEditor.getValue()) + '" has been given focus.');

listEditor.on('item:lastName:change', function(listEditor, itemEditor, lastNameEditor) {
    console.log('Last name for user "' + itemEditor.getValue().firstName + '" changed to "' + lastNameEditor.getValue() +'".');
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There are 2 levels of validation: schema validators and the regular built-in Backbone model validation. Backbone Forms will run both when form.validate() is called. Calling form.commit() will run schema level validation by default, and can also run model validation if { validate: true } is passed.

Schema validation

Validators can be defined in several ways:
  • As a string - Shorthand for adding a built-in validator. You can add custom validators to this list by adding them to Backbone.Form.validators. See the source for more information.
  • As an object - For adding a built-in validator with options, e.g. overriding the default error message.
  • As a function - Runs a custom validation function. Each validator the following arguments: value and formValues
  • As a regular expression - Runs the built-in regexp validator with a custom regular expresssion.

Built-in validators

  • required: Checks the field has been filled in
  • number: Checks it is a number, allowing a decimal point
  • email: Checks it is a valid email address
  • url: Checks it is a valid URL
  • match: Checks that the field matches another. The other field name must be set in the field option.
  • regexp: Runs a regular expression. Requires the regexp option, which takes a compiled regular expression. Setting the match option to false ensures that the regexp does NOT pass.


var schema = {
    //Built-in validator
    name: { validators: ['required'] },

    //Multiple built-in validators
    email: { validators: ['required', 'email'] },

    //Built-in editors with options:
    password: { validators: [
        { type: 'match', field: 'passwordConfirm', message: 'Passwords must match!' }
    ] },

    //Regular expression
    foo: { validators: [/foo/] },

    //Custom function
    username: { validators: [
        function checkUsername(value, formValues) {
            var err = {
                type: 'username',
                message: 'Usernames must be at least 3 characters long'

            if (value.length < 3) return err;
    ] }

Handling errors

Error messages will be added to the field's help text area, and a customisable bbf-error class will be added to the field element so it can be styled with CSS.
Validation runs when form.commit() or form.validate() are called. If validation fails, an error object is returned with the type (validator that failed) and customisable message:
//Example returned errors from form validation:
    name:   { type: 'required', message: 'Required' },              //Error on the name field
    email:  { type: 'email', message: 'Invalid email address' },    //Error on the email field
    _others: ['Custom model.validate() error']                      //Error from model.validate()

Customising error messages

After including the Backbone Forms file, you can override the default error messages.
{{mustache}} tags are supported; they will be replaced with the options passed into the validator configuration object. {{value}} is a special tag which is passed the current field value.
Backbone.Form.validators.errMessages.required = 'Please enter a value for this field.';

Backbone.Form.validators.errMessages.match = 'This value must match the value of {{field}}'; = '{{value}} is an invalid email address.';
You can also override the error message on a field by field basis by passing the message option in the validator config.

Model validation

If your models have a validate() method the errors will be added to the error object. To make the most of the validation system, the method should return an error object, keyed by the field object. If an unrecognised field is added, or just a string is returned, it will be added to the _others array of errors:
var User = Backbone.Model.extend({
    validate: function(attrs) {
        var errs = {};

        if (usernameTaken(attrs.username)) errs.username = 'The username is taken'

        if !_.isEmpty(errs) return errs;

Schema validators

Forms provide a validate method, which returns a dictionary of errors, or null. Validation is determined using the validators attribute on the schema (see above).
If you model provides a validate method, then this will be called when you call Form.validate. Forms are also validated when you call commit. See the Backbone documentation for more details on model validation.


//Schema definition:
var schema = {
    name: { validators: ['required'] }

var errors = form.commit();
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Customising templates

Backbone-Forms comes with a few options for rendering HTML. To use another template pack, such as for
Bootstrap, just include the .js file from the templates folder, after including backbone-forms.js.
You can change all the default templates by copying the included distribution/templates/bootstrap.js file and adapting that. Placeholders are the data-xxx attributes, e.g. data-fieldsets, data-fields and data-editors.

Alternate field templates

If only certain fields need a different template this can be done by providing the template in the schema:
var altFieldTemplate = _.template('<div class="altField" data-editor></div>');

var form = new Backbone.Form({
  schema: {
    age: { type: 'Number' },        //Uses the default field template
    name: { template: altFieldTemplate }  //Uses the custom template

100% custom forms

To customise forms even further you can pass in a template to the form instance or extend the form and specify the template, e.g.:
<script id="formTemplate" type="text/html">
        <h1><%= heading1 %></h1>
        <div data-editors="firstName"><!-- firstName editor will be added here --></div>
        <div data-editors="lastName"><!-- lastName editor will be added here --></div>
        <div data-editors="password">
            <div class="notes">Must be at least 7 characters:</div>
            <!-- password editor will be added here -->

var form = new Backbone.Form({
    template: _.template($('#formTpl').html()),
    model: new UserModel(), //defined elsewhere
    templateData: {heading1: 'Edit profile'}

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Editors without forms

You can add editors by themselves, without being part of a form. For example:
var select = new Backbone.Form.editors.Select({
    model: user,
    key: 'country',
    options: getCountries()

//When done, apply selection to model:

Using nested fields

If you are using a schema with nested attributes (using the Object type), you may want to include only some of the nested fields in a form. This can be accomplished by using 'path' syntax as in the example below.
However, due to Backbone's lack of support for nested model attributes, getting and setting values will not work out of the box. For this to work as expected you must adapt your model's get() and set() methods to handle the path names, or simply use
DeepModel which will handle paths for you automatically.
var Model = Backbone.DeepModel.extend({
    schema: {
        title: 'Text',
        author: { type: 'Object', subSchema: {
            id: 'Number',
            name: { type: 'Object', subSchema: {
                first: 'Text',
                last: 'Text'

var form = new Backbone.Form({
    model: new Model,
    fields: ['title', '', '']

The following shorthand is also valid:
var Model = Backbone.DeepModel.extend({
    schema: {
        title: 'Text',
        '': 'Number',
        '': 'Text'

var form = new Backbone.Form({
    model: new Model

Custom editors

Writing a custom editor is simple. They must extend from Backbone.Form.editors.Base.
var CustomEditor = Backbone.Form.editors.Base.extend({

    tagName: 'input',

    events: {
        'change': function() {
            // The 'change' event should be triggered whenever something happens
            // that affects the result of `this.getValue()`.
            this.trigger('change', this);
        'focus': function() {
            // The 'focus' event should be triggered whenever an input within
            // this editor becomes the `document.activeElement`.
            this.trigger('focus', this);
            // This call automatically sets `this.hasFocus` to `true`.
        'blur': function() {
            // The 'blur' event should be triggered whenever an input within
            // this editor stops being the `document.activeElement`.
            this.trigger('blur', this);
            // This call automatically sets `this.hasFocus` to `false`.

    initialize: function(options) {
        // Call parent constructor, options);

        // Custom setup code.
        if (this.schema.customParam) this.doSomething();

    render: function() {

        return this;

    getValue: function() {
        return this.$el.val();

    setValue: function(value) {

    focus: function() {
        if (this.hasFocus) return;

        // This method call should result in an input within this edior
        // becoming the `document.activeElement`.
        // This, in turn, should result in this editor's `focus` event
        // being triggered, setting `this.hasFocus` to `true`.
        // See above for more detail.

    blur: function() {
        if (!this.hasFocus) return;


  • The editor must implement getValue(), setValue(), focus() and blur() methods.
  • The editor must fire change, focus and blur events.
  • The original value is available through this.value.
  • The field schema can be accessed via this.schema. This allows you to pass in custom parameters.

Help & discussion



  • Add submitButton to form constructor. Adds a submit button with given text.
  • No longer require jquery from within the CommonJS module. NOTE: You must now set Backbone.$ yourself if using CommonJS e.g. browserify
  • Fix CommonJS backend issues (ndrsn)
  • Added the number validator
  • Support specifying fieldsets on the Form prototype
  • Support specifying field and fieldset templates in their prototypes; allows extending Form, Field and Fieldset to create custom forms
  • Support regexp validator as string (gregsabia)
  • Fix bootstrap3 class list name #329
  • Add 'match' option to regexp validator


  • Add Bootstrap 3 templates (powmedia)
  • Being consistent with throwing Errors rather than strings (philfreo)
  • Save templateData when passed as an option (BradDenver)


  • Confirming compatibility with Backbone 1.1.0 (still supporting 1.0.0)
  • Fix form.commit() to only run model-level validation if {validate:true} passed (cmaher)
  • Allow for setting defaults on the prototype (patbenatar)
  • Make it possible to trigger editor events with custom arguments (mvergerdelbove)
  • Give checkboxes unique IDs in groups (exussum12)
  • Allow passing an object to Select (lintaba)
  • Add checkbox array grouping (exussum12)
  • Fix checkboxes and radio 'name' attributes (#95)
  • Allow field template to be defined in schema
  • Fix overriding List modal templates in Bootstrap template pack
  • Add ability to unset checkbox (exussum12)
  • Fix change event on number field when using spinner (clearly)
  • Render hidden inputs, without labels
  • Remove type attribute from TextAreas (#261)
  • Fix error when using template files without list.js (philfreo)
  • Allow overriding 'step' attribute in Number editor (jarek)
  • Allow most falsey values as an Editor value (ewang)


  • Update for Backbone 1.0
  • Overhaul templating and rendering
  • List: Set focus on newly added simple list items
  • Select: Add option group support (khepin)


  • Update for Backbone 0.9.10
  • Pass editor instance as second parameter to Select options function
  • Fix for jQuery 1.9
  • Don't show if schema title===false (philfreo)
  • Fix change event on radio editor (DominicBoettger)
  • Fix model errors not being return by validate() (mutewinter)
  • Setting value with setValue only from form.schema (okhomenko)
  • Some smaller optimisation and fixes according to jsHint (MarcelloDiSimone)
  • Add Form.setValue(key, val) option for arguments (lennym)
  • Support ordering years in descending order in Date field (lennym)
  • Allow the Number field type to accept decimal values (philfreo)
  • Added 'backbone-forms' as a dependency to the AMD wrapper for templates. (seanparmelee)
  • Allow use of required validator with checkbox fields (lennym)
  • Make Form.Field template rendering context overrideable (drd)
  • Fix a mismatched button element in the bootstrap.js template file. (there4)
  • Fix AMD editors that must have backbone forms (philfreo)
  • Skip undefined properties when setting form value from model.toJSON() (jgarbers)
  • Add listItemTemplate option to list editors (philfreo)
  • Fix NestedModel values being overridden by defaults (#99)
  • Add Select.setOptions() method to change options on demand
  • AMD improvements (see issue #77)
  • Add 'change', 'focus' and 'blur' events (DouweM)
  • Fix: #72 Hitting 'Enter' being focused on any text field in examples deletes nested "notes"
  • Pressing enter in a list now adds a new item to the bottom of the list (Juice10)
  • Customization of List Template & Tweaked default templates (philfreo)
  • Fix not rendering of hidden fields (#75) (DouweM)
  • DateTime editor:
- Convert strings to dates
- Remove built-in Date editor before removing self
  • Email validator should accept "+" sign (#70)


  • update build scripts & package.json for jam packaging (dstendardi)
  • Fields with options, such as Select, should handle 0 as value (torbjorntorbjorn)
  • Update backbone.bootstrap-modal adapter
  • Refactor rendering.
- <legend> tags are now defined in the template.
- Where a template is used, (e.g. advanced editors, field etc.), the entirety of the HTML is now defined in the template to make custom templating easier.
- All templates must now have a main 'parent' element.
  • Create new List, Date and DateTime editors that don't rely on jQuery UI.
- You will still need to use jQuery UI editors for the calendar.
- For list items of type `Object` and `NestedModel` you must include a modal adapter, such as the included Bootstrap Modal one. Should create one for jQuery UI.

Required changes when upgrading:

  • List editor:
- Change 'listType' to 'itemType' in schema definition.
- Make sure you have a modal adapter included if using Object and NestedModel itemTypes. See the List editor section.


  • Added ability to use a custom template compiler (geowa4)
  • Added distribution files (development and minified production versions)
  • Added AMD-compatible version (development and minified production versions)