Format associative JSON to work with Knockout.js

How to format an associative array in JSON with Knockout

By Stef van den Ham — May 09 2012

I recently started creating a RESTful API in CakePHP to work with a Knockout.js frontend.

While Knockout.js is a lot of fun, it does expect your JSON to be in a certain format.

Take the following response from a simple find action:

"Projects": [
  {
      "Project": {
          "id": "151",
          "title": "Een ander project",
          "slug": "een-ander-project",
          "description": "dsfdsfs",
          "tasks_count": "2",
          "tasks_backlog": "2",
          "tasks_open": "0",
          "tasks_closed": "0",
          "duedate": "2012-04-09",
          "created": "2012-04-09 13:52:19",
          "modified": "2012-04-09 13:52:19"
      },
      "Task": [ ]
  },
  {
      "Project": {
          "id": "152",
          "title": "Een ander project",
          "slug": "een-ander-project-1",
          "description": "dsfdsfs",
          "tasks_count": null,
          "tasks_backlog": null,
          "tasks_open": null,
          "tasks_closed": null,
          "duedate": "2012-04-09",
          "created": "2012-04-09 13:55:30",
          "modified": "2012-04-09 13:55:30"
      },
      "Task": [ ]
  },

This is fine to work with in your typical View, but Knockout rather has a nested format, and doesn’t like the leading Project nodes. You could write custom parsers in Knockout, but would quickly become a hell to maintain.

Instead, I wrote a little function to reformat the response to get the result Knockout likes:

public function formatResponse($data) {
    $ret = array();
    foreach($data as $key) {
        $keys = array_keys($key);
        $t = $key[$keys[0]];
        for($i=1; $i<count($keys); $i++) {
            $t[Inflector::pluralize(strtolower($keys[$i]))] = $key[$keys[$i]];
        }
        $ret[] = $t;
    }

    return $ret;
}

$projects = $this->Project->find('all');
$projects = $this->formatResponse($projects);
$this->set(compact('projects'));
$this->set('_serialize', array('projects'));

This will reformat the Projects response to:

"projects": [
    {
        "id": "151",
        "title": "Een ander project",
        "slug": "een-ander-project",
        "description": "dsfdsfs",
        "tasks_count": "2",
        "tasks_backlog": "2",
        "tasks_open": "0",
        "tasks_closed": "0",
        "duedate": "2012-04-09",
        "created": "2012-04-09 13:52:19",
        "modified": "2012-04-09 13:52:19",
        "tasks": [ ]
    },
    {
        "id": "152",
        "title": "Een ander project",
        "slug": "een-ander-project-1",
        "description": "dsfdsfs",
        "tasks_count": null,
        "tasks_backlog": null,
        "tasks_open": null,
        "tasks_closed": null,
        "duedate": "2012-04-09",
        "created": "2012-04-09 13:55:30",
        "modified": "2012-04-09 13:55:30",
        "tasks": [ ]
    },

This way I don’t have to worry about modifying the core of how Knockout.js works with JSON, and focus on developing the front-end of my app instead.

It will probably be classier to put the function in something like an afterFind, but for now it will do nicely.


Tags: knockout.js

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