Some experiments and thoughts on all things from Mitchell Simoens

Custom Two Way Binding!

4 min read

When Ext JS 5 was released it brought with it data binding including two-way data binding. Although some argue that two way data binding is an anti-pattern, it does have it's uses. Many Ext JS components have two-way binding ready by default (for example, this Kitchen Sink example) but there may be cases where you want to setup a custom bindings. At a high level, what I want is when one component changes, another component changes in response automatically and if that second component changes, the first component also changes.

First Attempt

As a use case, I was recently asked how to collapse/expand a Ext.form.FieldSet using data binding. Without any custom things, it's possible like so:

In this fiddle, theExt.form.field.Checkbox under the FieldSet will toggle whether the FieldSet is expanded or not. However, that's kind of weird because we are binding to expanded but that's not a config of FieldSet. The reason I used it is because binding requires a setter function so in this case the FieldSet needs (and does albeit being private) have a setExpanded method in order for binding to work. FieldSet does have a collapsed config but binding needs a setter and there is no setCollapsed method. We could create a simple override to add one:

That looks better! However, if we manually collapse/expand the FieldSet, the Checkbox will not reflect this change so it's only one-way currently. This is where we need to do some custom stuff in order to have two-way binding. There are two ways to have two-way binding and which to use depends on if the config you want to change is within the config object (so setter and getter methods are automatically created for you).

Manual Two-Way Binding

To get the new value up to the on the form, the publishState method must be executed passing in the name and value. The FieldSet will fire collapse and expand events when it has been collapsed/expanded so we can add listeners to it in order to execute that publishState method:

In the initComponent method, I add listeners to the collapse and expand events which will execute the publishCollapsed method. If rendered, this will execute publishState meaning two-way binding is setup.

Automatic Two-Way Binding

Like I said before, the way to know if you need to hookup the publishState method execution or if Ext JS can handle it automatically for you is whether the config you are binding to is within the config object. The collapsed config is not part of the config object but what if we had a custom config, how can we get that custom config to be two-way bindable? This is where twoWayBindable comes in handy to hook things up for us:

When setFoo is executed, we check to see if the FieldSet is already collapsed/expanded and then execute the setExpanded if not. We had to add the setFoo call to setExpanded also to hook into when the FieldSet is manually collapsed/expanded by the user. That has nothing to do with the binding tho, the bit to pay attention to is the config object and the twoWayBindable property. The twoWayBindable property is an array of configs and it will then hook into the updater for that config to then automatically execute that publishState method. So the binding is automatic, the other code is to handle collapsing/expanding when the foo config changes.


Data binding can be a bit mysterious but having some form of understanding the sequence of things helps go a long way. Knowing that publishState and having an associated setter method are important pieces of the binding puzzle. For more, check out the guide that goes over binding.

Written by Mitchell Simoens who is a long time nerd developing software and building computers and gadgets. Anything expressed on this website are Mitchell Simoens's alone and do not represent his employer.
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