Writing Addons

Addons allow you to extend Fauxton to do anything you may need. Perhaps you have some custom requirements not met by the core script, or you just wanted to experiment. This page contains a little info on how to write your own.

Addons are usually stored in /app/addons in their own subfolder, and have the following structure:

  • base.js - entry point to the addon
  • resources.js - models and collections of the addon
  • routes.js - URL routing for the addon
  • components.react.jsx - React components (views)

In addition, you may find you need to include CSS or external resources. For that, include a assets/less or assets/external folder.

Generating an Addon

We have a convenient grunt-init template that lets you create a skeleton Fauxton addon with some boilerplate code.

  • On the command line, go to your Fauxton folder and run ./node_modules/.bin/grunt-init tasks/addon and answer the questions it asks. It'll go something like this:
$ ./node_modules/.bin/grunt-init tasks/addon
path.existsSync is now called `fs.existsSync`.
Running "addon" task

Please answer the following:
[?] Add on Name (WickedCool) SuperAddon
[?] Location of add ons (app/addons)
[?] Do you need an assets folder?(for .less) (y/N)
[?] Do you need to make any changes to the above before continuing? (y/N)

Created addon SuperAddon in app/addons

Done, without errors.
  • Now take a look at your app/addons/[AddonName] folder to see what it‘s created for you. Notice that at this stage, the components.react.jsx file doesn’t have a corresponding .js file. JSX files are files that are precompiled into javascript.

  • To add your new addon for inclusion in Fauxton, edit your settings.json file (or settings.json.default if it doesn‘t exist). That file defines exactly which addons gets loaded. Editing that file, you’ll see something like this towards the top:

"deps": [
  { "name": "fauxton" },
  { "name": "components" },
  { "name": "databases" },
  { "name": "documents" },
  { "name": "activetasks" },
  { "name": "cluster" },
  // ...

There, just add a new row for your new addon.

  { "name": "[AddonName]" },

(obviously replace [AddonName] with your addon name).

  1. Restart Fauxton (grunt dev) and look for a new primary nav item appear the left with your addon name. Click that and you should see a Hello World. Nice! Check out your component folder again: note that component.react.js now exists. That‘s what’s being used in Fauxton when it loads in your browser.

Some starter tips

Route Objects

Like any web app, Fauxton uses URLs (hashes, in our case) to determine what code should be loaded to populate the page. The routes.js file contains one or more “route objects” (it returns an array) each of which define URL path matches - just like a Backbone router.

In this example addon, see that it has a single example/addon path defined. When the hash matches that string, it will execute the function defined as its key. That then loads the React component found in your components.react.jsx file.

For more examples of how the Route Objects function, look through some of the existing code.

Layout templates

You may have noticed the layout: 'one_pane' property of the route object in your addon. By and large, there aren't that many combinations of overall page layouts within Fauxton. That setting lets you choose a pre-existing template to help cut down on boilerplate code.

For a full list of the available templates, see the app/templates folder. To use any of them, just include the filename, minus the .html extension.

React Components & JSX

If you‘re not familiar with React you should definitely check out their website for more info. JSX is optional, but we’ve found it extremely useful so the compiler is baked into the grunt dev task and compiled your JSX files on the fly as you edit them.

CSS / Less

Fauxton uses Less for its CSS precompilation. If you include a file with the name [AddonName].less in your addon's /assets/less folder, it will be automatically included when Fauxton starts.


Take a look at base.js to see how your addon was added to the primary nav. To see the list of available icons that can be used within Fauxton, check out the preview page at: http://localhost:8000/assets/fonts/styleguide/fauxtonicon-preview.html. That's a handy reference in case you find you need an icon or two.