Book of the Day: Building Backbone Plugins

I haven’t seen much writing on the topic of extending Backbone which makes Building Backbone Plugins by Derick Bailey the only book of it’s kind that I’m aware of. As the title suggests, Building Backbone Plugins is most likely going to appeal to you if you’re part of a relatively specific audience: You already work with Backbone, JavaScript isn’t new to you, and you are ready to take the next steps with Backbone. Scalable application architecture, reduced boilerplate code and more efficient use of development efforts are likely to be things you’re thinking about.

The bottom line is that there’s a lot of great material in Building Backbone Plugins which makes it, along with the source code of projects like Backbone.Marionette and Chaplin, a treasure trove of knowledge for the Backbone developer concerned with application architecture and extending Backbone.

None-the-less, there are a couple of things worth knowing when evaluating if this is the book for you:

1. It’s a work in progress

From the preface:

This book is a work in progress, with many of the chapters complete, additional chapters in rough draft, and one or two chapters planned beyond that. Expect this book to change over time, with edits and additional chapters being added.

Don’t let this point deter you. The book is scheduled for completion at the end of February 2014. In the meantime unfinished chapters are clearly marked so you aren’t surprised when you do run into errors or inconsistency.

2. It’s about more than the title indicates

In my opinion, the title is a bit misleading which seems to sell the book short and has the potential of creating faulty expectations. In fact, I would suggest an alternate title: Scaling and Extending Backbone Architecture.

The actual scope of the book goes far beyond answering the question: “How do I write a Backbone plugin?”. This is more of a book about thinking through, designing and implementing application architecture in Backbone. As a result, if you’re looking for a pre-packaged solution such as a template or a series of widely used patterns à la jQuery Boilerplate you can pick from, you won’t find it here. However, you will have an understanding of extending Backbone and the thought process that will allow you to build a plugin.

3. It’s really good.

Essentially, Building Backbone Plugins is a case study in building a framework ( Backbone.Marionette ) on top of Backbone.

You will likely get a lot of knowledge ( won through experience ) out of the book but you will have to abstract it all when you decide to build your own plugin. There are some good lessons in here, and one of the best parts of the case study approach is watching a system get built. But, if you have an idea for a small plugin, you are going to find yourself trying to figure out how to apply what you’ve learned. This book is, in one sense, more about a thought process, based around a particular point of view and construct of best practices.

The Verdict


I dare say that Building Backbone Plugins will make you a better developer. You will develop a deeper understanding of Backbone and how to extend it. Most importantly, you will have a first-hand look into the thought process behind application architecture decisions.

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