Ember.js 1.9.0 and 1.10 Beta Released

– By Matthew Beale

We are pleased to announce the release of both Ember.js 1.9.0 and the first beta in the 1.10 series. This comes as the ninth cycle of our release process that began after 1.0 was released.

The 1.9 release represents the effort of at least 52 contributors across over 436 commits.

The Road to Ember 2.0

In early November Tom, Yehuda, and the Ember.js Core Team shared The Road to Ember 2.0. This RFC document acts as a map for the next several releases of Ember.js.

Ember.js 1.9 introduces several important deprecations that signal upcoming changes. Additionally, many view-layer internals are refactored to take advantage of the "streams" observation pattern.

Ember.js 1.10 (beta) begins a series of releases that will introduce new APIs while deprecating ones to be removed in 2.0.

To that end, and with much excitement, we are extremely pleased to announce the introduction of the HTMLBars templating engine into Ember.js 1.10. This new rendering pipeline marks a significant milestone for the framework, and by maintaining complete API compatibility it demonstrates our commitment to stability without stagnation.

New Features and Deprecations in Ember.js 1.9

Handlebars 2.0

As announced in October, Ember.js 1.9 adds support for Handlebars 2.0 templates and removes support for Handlebars 1.x templates. This change does not affect the template syntax or public API of Ember applications.

Projects using an Ember-CLI version less than 0.1.5 will require a bump of the Handlebars dependency version:

bower install --save handlebars#2.0.0

Additionally the template pre-compiler (installed via npm) will require an update:

npm uninstall --save-dev broccoli-ember-hbs-template-compiler
npm install --save-dev ember-cli-htmlbars@0.6.0

Non-CLI applications will likewise require a bump of their Handlebars dependency version.


Data-binding in Ember.js has traditionally been based on the concept of a key-value observer. In Ember 1.x, KVO observers fire immediately upon the change of a value, giving them performance characteristics that cannot be changed until Ember 2.0. In comparison, streams distinguish change notification from value calculation. The value of a stream can be described as "lazy", as it is not computed until needed.

The addition of streams to Ember and their use throughout the view layer improves the performance of rendering, simplifies many helpers, and prepares Ember's codebase for HTMLBars.

Thanks to @_mmun, @ebryn, and @krisselden who wrote an Ember.js stream implementation then updated every Handlebars helper to the new API.

Activate and Deactivate Events

Ember.js routes have long supported an activate and deactivate hook. For example:

// app/routes/index.js
export default Ember.Route.extend({
  activate: function(){

Ember.js 1.9 introduces corresponding events for these hooks.

// app/routes/index.js
export default Ember.Route.extend({
  collectAnalytics: function(){

Thanks to @pangratz for the addition of this feature.


When debugging an Ember acceptance test, it can be helpful to pause and inspect the DOM or application state. Ember.js 1.9 adds a new test helper for indefinitely pausing test execution.

test('clicking login authenticates', function(){
  return pauseTest();
  // The test will never proceed to execute this click

Thanks to @katiegengler for the addition of this feature.

key-up and key-down actions

The {{input}} and {{textarea}} helpers in Ember emit several actions, including enter, insert-newline, escape-press, focus-in, focus-out, and key-press.

This release introduces key-up and key-down actions. For example:

{{! call the `validateName` action on the current controller
    or component scope: }}
{{input value=name key-up="validateName"}}

Performance Improvements

Ember.js 1.9 comes with several performance improvements.

  • The implementation of _super in Ember is fairly complex, and can perform badly. Ember 1.9 uses a check against the string version of a function to determine if all parts of the implementation are needed, or if some work can be skipped.
  • Additional improvements to the performance of Ember.Map have been made.

Thanks to @stefanpenner for his continued efforts on performance tuning.

Notable Deprecations

As Ember.js moves forward, various APIs are deprecated to allow for their removal in a later major release (such as 2.0). The deprecations page summarizes deprecations and demonstrates how to update to a new API.

Ember 1.9 deprecates context switching in templates. Templates with context switching are difficult to read, and the concept is challenging for new developers. The removal of context switching from templates in Ember 2.0 aims to make scoping consistent and predictable. This deprecation is a step toward that goal.

Two Ember helpers support context switching. The first is {{each}}:

{{!-- app/templates/people.hbs --}}
{{! this context is the controller }}
{{#each model}}
  {{name}} {{! this context is each person }}

The non-context switching version of this helper is now preferred:

{{!-- app/templates/people.hbs --}}
{{! this context is the controller }}
{{#each person in model}}
  {{person.name}} {{! this context is still the controller }}

The second helper is {{with}}:

{{!-- app/templates/people.hbs --}}
{{! this context is the controller }}
{{#with model}}
  {{name}} {{! this context is the person }}

The non-context switching version of this helper is now preferred:

{{!-- app/templates/people.hbs --}}
{{! this context is the controller }}
{{#with model as person}}
  {{person.name}} {{! this context is still the controller }}

New Features and Deprecations in Ember.js 1.10

Ember.js 1.10 marks the migration of Ember's rendering pipeline from a string-based process to a DOM-based one. Existing application templates require no modification to run HTMLBars. New syntaxes enabled by Ember's DOM-based rendering pipeline and HTMLBars will land over the next several releases.

Before branching into 1.10 beta, HTMLBars was available for nearly two weeks behind a canary feature flag. We thank the community members who took time from work or weekends to test the change and provide feedback.

Teasing apart the HTMLBars project to ship it incrementally has ensured that existing codebases can make the jump without modification. This release lays the infrastructural groundwork for features and even greater performance improvements to come.

Input and feedback on the 1.10 beta from real-world use will help us ensure a smooth transition to release.

To test your Ember-CLI codebase on Ember.js 1.10 and HTMLBars, follow these steps to upgrade Ember:

rm -rf bower_components
bower install --save ember#beta
bower install

Then update your template compiler to HTMLBars:

npm uninstall --save-dev broccoli-ember-hbs-template-compiler
npm install --save-dev ember-cli-htmlbars

Over the beta cycle, we expect to see 3rd party libraries and build pipelines update to support HTMLBars. If you manage a project and have any difficulty, reach out to the community and core team on the forum or #ember-dev IRC chatroom.

Block Params

Block parameters are a new feature introduced with 1.10. They address two problems in Ember:

  • The non-context switching version of {{#each}} and {{#with}} are inconsistent. {{#each car in cars}} and {{#with model as car}} have similar meaning but different syntaxes.
  • Ember's components are strictly encapsulated. Values are explicitly passed in, and only actions are emitted from components. The inability to pass values makes composition of components difficult.

Block params add a template syntax that allows values to be yielded from one helper or component to a child scope. The new syntax makes the named value version of {{#each}} and {{#with}} consistent. For example:

{{currentUser.name}} {{! available on the controller }}
{{#each cars as |car|}}
  {{#with car.manufacturer as |make|}}
    {{currentUser.name}} {{! still the controller scope }}

Preserving template scope context results in easier to read templates.

Any component in Ember 1.10 can use this feature. For example:

{{!-- app/templates/components/my-unordered-list.hbs --}}
  {{#each items as |item|}}
    <li>{{yield item}}</li>
{{!-- app/templates/index.hbs --}}
{{#my-unordered-list items=cars as |car|}}
  Auto: {{car.name}}

The my-unordered-list component is called, passing cars as items. The component template iterates through each item in items, yielding to the calling template with a block param. The calling template accepts the block param as car and displays the car's name.

Many thanks to @_mmun for the implementation of this important new feature.

Renaming Release Files

A release of Ember.js consists of three files:

  • ember.prod.js - an un-minified production build (no asserts)
  • ember.min.js - a minified production build
  • ember.js - a development build (with asserts)

The non-production build of Ember will not perform as well as the production build. To ensure there is no confusion about using the ember.js build in production, Ember.js 1.10 and later will use a new filename:

  • ember.prod.js - an un-minified production build (no asserts)
  • ember.min.js - a minified production build
  • ember.debug.js - a development build (with asserts)

An ember.js file will continue to be provided with a deprecation warning.

Notable Deprecations in 1.10

The following deprecations are scheduled for release with Ember.js 1.10:

  • Setting the childViews property on a view definition will be deprecated in 1.10. For example:
var ChildB = Ember.View.extend();

export default Ember.ContainerView.extend({
  childViews: [ 'childA', ChildB ],
  childA: Ember.View.extend()

This use of childViews is inconsistent with other uses throughout Ember, and as a result is difficult to implement with good performance. Explicitly creating views upon initialization is preferred:

var ChildB = Ember.View.extend();

export default Ember.ContainerView.extend({
  init: function(){
  childA: Ember.View.extend()
  • The beforeObserver feature is deprecated in Ember 1.10. Before observers are rarely used, but introduce significant overhead to the observer system in general. For observer use that requires the previous value of a property be known, implementing a cache is easier and more efficient. Read more about how to do this in the deprecations page.
  • Quote-less outlet names are deprecated in 1.10. An example of this is {{outlet modal}}, which would be re-written as {{outlet "modal"}}. This ensures the outlet helper is consistent with others, where unquoted words are values and not string literals.

As the features included in Ember 1.11 are developed, additional deprecations may be added to the 1.10 release.