Skip to content

Instantly share code, notes, and snippets.

Show Gist options
  • Save kristianmandrup/ae3174217f68a6a51ed5 to your computer and use it in GitHub Desktop.
Save kristianmandrup/ae3174217f68a6a51ed5 to your computer and use it in GitHub Desktop.
Guide to Developing Addons and Blueprints for Ember CLI

Developing Addons and Blueprints

Addons make it possible to easily share common code between applications.

This guide will walk through the development cycle of a fictional addon ember-cli-xbutton.


An addon can be installed like any other npm package:

npm install --save-dev <package name>

To install the (fictional) xbutton addon package:

npm install --save-dev ember-cli-xbutton


Ember CLI will detect the presence of an addon by inspecting each of your applications dependencies and search their package.json files for the presence of ember-addon in the keywords section (see below).

  "keywords": [

Addon scenarios

The Ember CLI addons API currently supports the following scenarios:

  • Performing operations on the EmberApp created in the consuming application's Brocfile.js
  • Adding preprocessors to the default registry
  • Providing a custom application tree to be merged with the consuming application
  • Providing custom express (server) middlewares
  • Adding custom/extra blueprints, typically for scaffolding application/project files

Addon CLI options

Ember CLI comes has an addon command with some options:

ember addon <addon-name> <options...>
  Creates a new folder and runs ember init in it.
  --dry-run (Default: false)
  --verbose (Default: false)
  --blueprint (Default: addon)
  --skip-npm (Default: false)
  --skip-bower (Default: false)
  --skip-git (Default: false)

Note that an addon can NOT be created inside an existing application.

Create addon

To create a basic addon:

ember addon <addon-name>

Running this command should generate something like the following:

ember addon my-xbutton
version x.y.zz
  create .bowerrc
  create .editorconfig
  create tests/dummy/.jshintrc
  create .travis.yml
  create Brocfile.js

  create tests/dummy/app/app.js
  ... more test files

  create bower.json
  create .gitignore
  create package.json  

  create vendor/.gitkeep
  create addon/.gitkeep
  create app/.gitkeep
  create index.js

Installing packages for tooling via npm
Installed browser packages via Bower. 

Addon conventions

The addon infrastructure is based on "convention over configuration" in accordance with the Ember philosophy. You are encouraged to follow these conventions to make it easier on yourself and for others to better understand your code. The same applies for addon blueprints.

Addon project structure

The addon project created follows these structure conventions:

app/ - merged with the application's namespace. addon/ - part of the addon's namespace. blueprints/ - contains any blueprints that come with the addon, each in a separate folder tests/ - test infrastructure including a "dummy" app and acceptance test helpers. vendor/ - vendor specific files, such as stylesheets, fonts, external libs etc. Brocfile.js - Compilation configuration package.json - Node meta-data, dependencies etc. index.js - main Node entry point (as per npm conventions)


The generated addon package.json file looks something like this:

  "name": "ember-cli-xbutton", // addon name
  "version": "0.0.1", // version of addon
  "directories": {
    "doc": "doc",
    "test": "test"
  "scripts": {
    "start": "ember server",
    "build": "ember build",
    "test": "ember test"
  "repository": "",
  "engines": {
    "node": ">= 0.10.0"
  "keywords": [
    // add more keywords to better categorize the addon 
  "ember-addon": {
    // addon configuration properties
    "configPath": "tests/dummy/config"
  "author": "", // your name
  "license": "MIT", // license
  "devDependencies": {
    "body-parser": "^1.2.0",
    ... // add specific dev dependencies here!

Let's add some meta data to categorize the addon a little better:

  "keywords": [

Addon entry point

An addon will leverage the npm conventions, and look for an index.js as the entry point unless another entry point is specified via the "main" property in the package.json file. You are encouraged to use index.js as the addon entry point.

The generated index.js is a simple Javascript Object (POJO) that you can customize and expand as you see fit.

// index.js
module.exports = {
  name: 'my-addon'

Managing addon dependencies

Install your client side dependencies via Bower. Here we install a fictional bower dependency xbutton:

bower install --save-dev xbutton

Adds bower components to development dependencies

// bower.js
  "name": "ember-xbutton",
  "dependencies": {
    // ...
  "devDependencies": {
    "xbutton":  "^1.4.0"

Addon Brocfile

Normallu you can leave the Brocfile.js as is. Only touch it if you need to customize the merging of trees for the addon and you understand how to use the Brocfile API.


In order to allow the consuming application to use the addon component without manual import statements, put the component under the app/components directory.

// app/components/xbutton.js
import Ember from 'ember';
import XButton from 'ember-xbutton/components/xbutton';
export default XButton;

The code imports the component from the addon directory and exports it again. This setup allows others to modify the component by extending it while making the component available in the consuming applications namespace.

The actual code for the addon goes in addon/components/xbutton.js

import Ember from 'ember';

export default Ember.Component.extend({
  tagName: 'button',

  setupXbutton: function() {
    // ...

  teardownXbutton: function() {


To create a blueprint, add a file blueprints/xbutton/index.js. This follows the usual Ember blueprints naming conventions.

Make sure the dependency files are imported into the consuming application. Use the included hook to import the files in the correct order.

module.exports = {
  name: 'ember-cli-xbutton',
  included: function(app) {


In the example file, the included hook is used. This hook is called by the EmberApp constructor and gives access to the app as app.

When the consuming application's Brocfile.js is processed by Ember CLI to build/serve etc. the addon's included function is called passing the EmberApp instance.

Advanced customization

If you want to go beyond the built in customizations or want/need more advanced control in general, the following are some of the hooks (keys) available for your addon Object in the index.js file. All hooks expect a function as the value.

includedCommands: function() {}
blueprintsPath: // return path as String

An example of advanced customization can be found here and for server middleware here

Testing addon

The addon project contains a /tests folder which contains the necessary infrastructure to run and configure tests for the addon. The /tests folder has the following structure:

  • /dummy
  • /helpers
  • /unit
  • index.html
  • test_helper.js

The /dummy folder contains the basic layout of a dummy app to be used for to host your addon for testing.

The /helpers folder contains various qunit helpers that are provided and those you define yourself in order to keep your tests concise.

The /unit folder should contain your unit tests that test your addon in various usage scenarios. These test may also be full integration tests that test the addon being hosted in the dummy app.

test_helper.js is the main helper file that you should reference from any of your unit test files. It imports the resolver helper found in /helpers used to resolve pages in the dummy app.

index.html contains the test page that you can load in a browser to display the results of running the unit tests.

Writing acceptance tests

The following is an example of a simple QUnit acceptance test, placed in tests/unit/components.

// tests/unit/components/button-test.js

import { test, moduleForComponent } from 'ember-qunit';
import startApp from '../../helpers/start-app';
import Ember from 'ember';

var App;

moduleForComponent('xbutton', 'XButtonComponent', {
  setup: function() {
    App = startApp();
  teardown: function() {, 'destroy');

test('is a button tag', function() {
  equal('BUTTON', this.$().prop('tagName'));


// more tests follow...

For how to run and configure tests, see the [[Ember CLI Testing]] section.

Create blueprint

A blueprint is a bundle of template files with optional installation logic. It is used to scaffold (generate) specific application files based on some arguments and options. For more details see [[generators-and-blueprints]]). An addon can have one or more blueprints.

To create a blueprint for your addon:

ember addon <blueprint-name> --blueprint

By convention, the main blueprint of the addon should have the same name as the addon itself:

ember addon <addon-name> --blueprint

In our example:

ember addon xbutton --blueprint

This will generate a folder blueprints/xbutton for the addon where you can define your logic and templates for the blueprint. You can define multiple blueprints for a single addon. The last loaded blueprint wins with respect to overriding existing (same name) blueprints that come with Ember or other addons (according to package load order.)

Blueprint conventions

Blueprints are expected to be located under the blueprints folder in the addon root, just like blueprints overrides in your project root.

If you have your blueprints in another folder in your addon, you need to tell ember-cli where to find them by specifying a blueprintsPath property for the addon (see advanced customization section below).

If you are familiar with Yeoman (or Rails) generators, blueprints follow very similar conventions and structure.

To dive deeper into blueprints design, please see the Ember CLI blueprints where you get a feeling for the blueprints API.

Blueprints file structure


Note that the special file or folder called __name__ will create a file/folder at that location in your app with the __name__ replaced by the first argument (name) you pass to the blueprint being generated.

`ember g xbutton my-button``

Will thus generate a folder app/components/my-button in the application where the blueprint generator is run.

Link to addon while developing

While you are developing and testing, you can run npm link from the root of your addon project. This will make your addon locally available by name.

Then run npm link <addon-name> in any hosting application project root to make a link to your addon in your node_modules folder. Any change in your addon will now directly take effect in any project that links to it this way (see npm-tricks for more details.

Publish addon

Use npm and git to publish the addon like a normal npm package.

npm version 0.0.1
git push origin master
git push origin --tags
npm publish

See npm-version for details.

These commands will:

  • tag with the version number
  • push the committed addon code to your git repo (origin branch)
  • push the new tag to your git repo (origin branch)
  • publish addon to the global npm repository.

Install and use addon

In order to use the addon from you hosting application:

To install your addon from the repository:

npm install ember-cli-<your-addon-name-here> --save-dev.

For our xbutton sample addon:

npm install ember-cli-xbutton --save-dev.

Run the xbutton blueprint generator via:

ember generate xbutton

Updating addons

You can update an addon the same way you update an Ember app by running ember init in your project root.

Full example

For a good walkthrough of the (recent) development of a real world addon, take a look at: Creating a DatePicker Ember CLI addon

Converting libraries to Ember CLI addons

In this guide we will cover two main cases:

  • Ember specific library
  • vendor library

Ember library

The Ember library will assume that Ember has already ben loaded (higher in the loading order) and thus will assume it has access to the Ember API.

Let's assume we have a library which creates a new Ember namespace called Ember.Validators and the full distributed library is available at: dist/ember-validators.js.

// dist/ember-validators.js
Ember.Validators = Ember.Namespace.create({
  // ...

Ember.Validators.presence = function (args) {
  // ...

Then we should expose the library via bower by configuring a bower.json file. We should use the "main" property to indicate the main files of the distribution and use "ignore" to specify which folders/files not to take part in the package when it is installed.

  "name": "my-project",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "main": [
  "ignore": [
    // ...
  "dependencies": {
    // ...
  "devDependencies": {
    // ...

In a "normal" Ember app, you would simply reference this library by script like this:

<script src="bower_components/ember/dist/stable/ember.js"/>
<script src="bower_components/ember-validations/dist/ember-validators.js"/>

For an Ember CLI app, we should instead import such files via Broccoli using app.import statements:

// Broccoli.js
app.import(app.bowerDirectory + '/ember-validations/ember-validators.js')

For an Ember CLI addon, we can avoid having to pollute our main Brocfile with all these import statements by instead having the addon import them on the app using the "included" hook.

// index.js (of the addon)
module.exports = {
  name: 'ember-cli-validators',
  included: function(app) {

    app.import(app.bowerDirectory + '/ember-validatiors/ember-validators.js');

In the hosting app, we then have to first install it as a bower component via bower install and then as an ember-cli addon (npm package) via npm install.

This should have the exact same effect as the simple <script src=""> example above and it should add Ember namespace.

As we can see, this is not really optimal, as it leads to duplication, ie. the package being installed twice by two different package managers. Instead it is recommended to package the library first as a normal bower package and then create a new ember-cli-* package that is a thin "bower wrapper", which assumes the bower package has already been installed. The addon should then simply reference the bower component and install the app tree and blueprints particular to the addon.

This is the way most of the ember-cli addons that come with ember-cli are packaged (f.ex see ember-qunit in your bower components folder, then ember-cli-qunit in your node_modules

Here is one such example:

app.import('bower_components/ember-cli-shims/test-shims.js', {
  type: 'test',
  exports: {
    'qunit': ['default']

For our example it could be something like:
  app.bowerDirectory + '/ember-easyform-cli/distributions/es6/ember-easyform-cli.js',
    {exports: {'ember-easyform': 'default'}}

Or more simply just:
    app.bowerDirectory + '/ember-easyform-cli/distributions/ember-easyform-cli.js'
  // lets see that we got it!
  console.log('app, app.legacyFilesToAppend);

And then import it in our app like this:

$ ember serve
version: 0.0.46
loaded ember-easyform-cli
including ember-easyform-cli into app
app [ 'bower_components/loader/loader.js',
  'bower_components/ember-easyform-cli/distributions/ember-easyform-cli.js' ]

So as we can see, it should be available as a legacy file in this fashion.

Ember objects

If our addon doesn't add to the namespace, but instead exposes one or more Ember objects to be included in parts of the app, we need a different strategy.

Lets imagine we have a libray which defines a few globals like this (not exactly recommended):

// dist/my-ember-mixins.js
var AuthorizerMixin = Ember.Mixin.create({
  // ...

var TimerMixin = Ember.Mixin.create({
  // ...

We could use the same approach as for the Ember.Namespace example, but then we would still pollute the global namespace of the app. How can we wrap this in a way that we have more fine grained control?

We could create another file which wraps it as follows, using ES6 modules. We will put this ES6 wrapper in dist/es6/my-ember-mixins.js

// dist/es6/my-ember-mixins.js


export var Authorizer = AuthorizerMixin;
export var TimerMixin = TimerMixin;

If we only want (or need) to export a single variable we can use export default

var mixins = {
  authorizer: AuthorizerMixin,
  timer: TimerMixin

export default mixins;

We could then import the wrapper file instead for Ember CLI apps using it as an addon.

module.exports = {
  name: 'ember-cli-validators',
  included: function(app) {


This would let us import just the variables we want, where we want. Here we demonstrate use of the (optional) alias feature by using as.

// app/mixins/authorization.js

import {Authorizer as authorize} from "ember-cli-validators";

console.log('Authorizer', authorize);

Vendor library

For a vendor library, you can use he same approach as described for Ember objects.

Copy link

marcoow commented Sep 29, 2014

For wrapping existing libraries into Ember CLI Addons this is how it actually works:

  • Create an Ember CLI Addon (with "keywords": ["ember-addon"… in the package.json as you have it above)
  • That Addon can have a blueprint (e.g. like this) which is executed when you run the corresponding generator (installing an Ember CLI Addon is now a 2 step process, see e.g. here)
  • So when the Addon was installed and the generator has been run, the library will have been added to the project's bower.json and the Addon can import the relevant files from the bower distribution in its index.js (or whatever the Addon's main file is) e.g. like here. If the imported file is an AMD build (which I'd say is always preferable), the Addon lists all the exports that should be made available to the Ember CLI project.

Copy link

Awesome :) Thanks @marcoow!!

Copy link

Great read. Have bookmarked.

Copy link

This was really helpful.

Copy link

Ummmmm...super great stuff! Thanks!

Copy link

zzarcon commented Jun 4, 2015

Thanks you so much, very useful stuff 👍

Copy link

etewiah commented Aug 3, 2015

Small point about using your add-on in dev as explained in the "Link to addon while developing" section.
This may be obvious to more experienced guys but worth pointing out explicitly. After running npm link <addon-name> in the folder of the consuming app, you need to add a line referencing your addon to the "devDependencies" section of the package.json of the consuming app.

Copy link

I can't get this working. I have an addon project and I want to export a global in es6. in my vendor folder I have vendor/shim.js and vendor/mylib.js


export var MyGlobal = MyGlobal;
module.exports = {
  included: function(app) {

When I do ember test on the consuming project it just hangs and I have to CTRL+C to cancel it. As soon as I remove the shim.js import everything works.


Copy link

shaunc commented Aug 20, 2015

I'm wondering how I can import from addon in another addon. For instance, in my own addon, I want to derive a component from ember-collection. I have ember-collection in devDependencies of my addon. Then in my component, I have tried unsuccessfully various <prefix> for:

import EmberCollection from '<prefix>/components/ember-collection';

(prefixes tried: , ember-collection, addon, app)

Also I've tried:

import EmberCollection from './ember-collection';

Thanks for any tips!

Copy link

I got a hung up for a bit on

It might be useful to add a note stating that the linked module needs to be added to /dependencies in the package.json on the app where it's being installed. Maybe a no-brainer, but when you're used to npm or bower adding these entries for you, this could be easy to miss.

Copy link

patrickjholloway commented Oct 19, 2016

I found that I was needing to restart my app each time a made a change to my addon that I was developing locally with npm link. I found the following helpful piece of info on the EmberCLI guide, but not on this guide:

For live reload when developing an addon use the isDevelopingAddon hook:

// addon index.js
isDevelopingAddon: function() {
  return true;

Copy link

Syzygy24 commented Dec 8, 2017

Is it possible to create these without bower now that ember-cli has dropped the dependency?

Copy link

MrRobz commented Feb 18, 2019

Is it possible to create these without bower now that ember-cli has dropped the dependency?

yes it is. use ember-cli-auto-import

Sign up for free to join this conversation on GitHub. Already have an account? Sign in to comment