Ember Multi Select Component


One of my concerns when I first began building applications with Ember was that I would have to leave behind many of the existing jQuery plugins that so often come in handy when doing front end work. Thankfully for Ember developers everywhere there is no need to reinvent any wheels. We can easily wrap most existing jQuery plugins in Ember components.

The Example

For our example we are going to create a multi select widget using the multiselect.js plugin, and demonstrate how easy it is to incorporate existing jQuery plugins into our Ember applications.

The Route

For our index route we will return an object that consists of an Ember array, containing a list of people, that will populate the example multi select box.

App.IndexRoute = Ember.Route.extend({
  model: function() {
    return {
      people: Ember.A([
        {id: 1, firstName: 'Jarrod'},
        {id: 2, firstName: 'Brandon'},
        {id: 3, firstName: 'Matt'},
        {id: 4, firstName: 'Joel'},
        {id: 5, firstName: 'Wes'},
        {id: 6, firstName: 'Aaron'}

The Component

In our component we actually wrap the jQuery plugin. The didInsertElement event is fired when the component is added to the page, and the _initializeMulti property is called when this event occurs. At this point the internals of the property are straight from the multiselct.js documentation. We use a jQuery selector to grab the field with a class of multi and call the multiSelect method on it. For this examle we are just doing a console log when a selection is made or removed.

App.MultiSelectComponent = Ember.Component.extend({
  _initializeMulti: (function() {
    return $(".multi").multiSelect({

      afterSelect: (function(_this) {
        return function(values) {
          return _this.sendAction("addAction", values);

      afterDeselect: (function(_this) {
        return function(values) {
          return _this.sendAction("removeAction", values);


The Templates

For our index template we call the multi-select component and pass to it the options that we want to use to populate the select box. In the componet template we loop over the passed in options and create a corresponding select option for each one.

  <script type="text/x-handlebars" data-template-name="index">
    {{multi-select options=model.people}}

  <script type="text/x-handlebars" data-template-name="components/multi-select">
    <select class="multi" multiple="multiple">
      {{#each person in options}}
        <option {{bind-attr value="person.id"}}>{{person.firstName}}</option>

Live Example

Here is a live demo of the example provided above. I have added a controller with a property that is used to track the id number of the people that have been selected, providing a more realistic use case.

Ember Starter Kit

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