Detecting how ordering changed in a backbone collection

July 06, 2014

In a recent Backbone UI project I needed to detect changes to the order of a playing song queue. When the user changed the order and there was a new song at the top of the queue I wanted to automatically start playing that song. The songs were ordered in a songQueue collection. Fortunately backbone provides an easy way to tell when the collection has changed by watching for the 'reset' event. What was less clear way how to tell what song was at the top of the queue prior to reset event firing.

It turns out to be a simple matter to get previous order, but it wasn’t clear in the backbone documentation, so I wanted to make note of it here.

The callback for the collection reset event actually receives two arguments. The first argument, just as you would expect, contains a collection of models ordered at the collection now contains them. The second, thankfully, is an object with one property: previousModels. This is an array containing the models in the collection and in the order they were in before the reset event was fired. Prefect!

Here’s all I needed to do to see if I needed to setup a different song to play when SongQueue order changed.

var SongQueue = Songs.extend({
  initialize: function() {
      function(current, prev) {
        if ( !== prev.previousModels[0]) {
          //If the top song has changed, play the new one.

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👋 Hi, I'm Bob. I'm a User Experience designer turned Front-end Software Engineer working @FwdNetworks in Atlanta, GA. I love building effective and delightful user interfaces for organizations making a positive difference in the world.

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