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State Manager and Friends - Part 1

Since state management is such a huge part of Ember.js it desrves a dedicated article. I’m not going to explain the old router which used Ember.StateManager to do it’s bidding. Those days are over and we should all be moving towards the v2 router (or v2.2 so to speak). Instead we’re going to go deep into the Ember.StateManager.

In the general concept, state manager is basically some object which manages states and the transitions between them, thus representing a finite state machine.

Let’s say we have a Post which can be in two states, draft and published. It begins it’s life as a draft and when we publish it, it should send out a notification email. The way Ember would handle this is that it would assign a Ember.StateManager instance to the Post instance and have that manage it’s state (that’s not exactly true in Ember Data, but we’ll get into that).

For now let’s just say that this is the code we have

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PostManager = Ember.StateManager.extend({
  states: {
    draft: Ember.State.create(),
    published: Ember.State.create()
  }
});

Post = Ember.Object.extend({
  title: null,
  init: function() {
    this.set("stateManager", PostManager.create());
    this._super();
  }
});

This gives us a really basic implementation. I’m setting the stateManager property in the init function to avoid sharing the instance across multiple Post instances. I’ll explain this in a followup article, for now just remember that if you need to set a property to an object instance, you have to do that in the init function, not directly like stateManager: PostManager.create().

OK, we are now ready to list all of the states a Post can have.

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post = Post.create();
post.get("stateManager.states"); // => { draft: ..., published: ... }

post.get("stateManager.currentState"); // => null

We forgot to say which of the states should be the default. Let’s do that.

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PostManager = Ember.StateManager.extend({
  initialState: "draft",
  states: {
    draft: Ember.State.create(),
    published: Ember.State.create()
  }
});

From now every single post we create will be a draft

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post = Post.create();
post.get("stateManager.currentState.name"); // => "draft"

And we can also make it transition into another state

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post = Post.create();
post.get("stateManager").transitionTo("published");
post.get("stateManager.currentState.name"); // => "published"

But Ember.StateManager can do more than that. We can hook into both enter and exit events on each state and do some magic! Let’s redefine our state manager as this

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PostManager = Ember.StateManager.extend({
  initialState: "draft",
  states: {
    draft: Ember.State.create(),
    published: Ember.State.create({
      enter: function() {
        console.log("post was published");
      }
    })
  }
});

post = Post.create();
post.get("stateManager").transitionTo("published");
// console prints "post was published"

Understanding how this class works is essential for any Ember developer, as it is being used in almost every part of the framework. We’ll take at some specific examples in the second part of this artcile.