Spine.app is a Spine application generator. It'll create the basic application structure, as well as controllers and models. This can then be served up, or compiled, using Hem.

Spine.app is an excellent way of getting started with Spine applications, and a highly recommended workflow.


First, if you haven't got them installed already, you'll need Node and npm. Then, to install Spine.app:

npm install -g spine.app

Spine.app will now be available globally under the spine executable.

Generating your application

To generate your application, use the app generator like so:

spine app my_app

Now we've produced a directory structure looking like:


As you can see spine.app has set up simple but fairly complete structure for your application.

The Procfile is for Heroku, which we'll cover later. slug.json is for Hem, see the article on that for more information. The rest is your classical MVC structure, which should look very familiar to you if you've used Rails.

First let's navigate to our application, and install it's npm dependencies:

$ cd my_app
$ npm install .

These dependencies will be stored locally in the my_app/npm_modules folder. Spine.app is currently set up to help you build a app that is fairly compatible with less capable browsers by relying on some shims and including jquery 1.9.1. If you are targeting more cutting edge browsers you'll want to refine your dependencies in slug.json and app/lib/setup.coffee

Now you can generate some controllers, models and get to building your app!

Generating controllers

Simple enough, just use the controller generator, specifying the name of the controller.

spine controller users

In the example above, Spine will generate a controller under ./app/controllers/users.coffee

Spine = require('spine')

class Users extends Spine.Controller
  constructor: ->

module.exports = Users

And a jasmine spec under ./test/specs/controllers/users.coffee

By convention, your controllers should be plural and your models singular. Spine.app does nothing to enforce this, it's up to you.

Generating models

Use the models generator, specifying the name of the model.

spine model user

In the example above, Spine will generate a model under ./app/models/user.coffee

Spine = require('spine')

class User extends Spine.Model
  @configure "User"

And a jasmine spec under ./test/specs/models/user.coffee

Serving your application

As soon as it's generated and its dependencies are installed your application will be ready to be served using Hem. Firstly, you'll need to install Hem, and your application's dependencies:

npm install .
npm install -g hem

And now we can use Hem to serve up the application:

hem server

For more information regarding Hem, please see the Hem Guide.

Building your application

You can also use Hem to test and build your application. This will serialize all your JavaScript/CoffeeScript to one file (./public/application.js), all your CSS/Stylus to (./public/application.css). You'll need to do this before pushing your site to a remote server, so it can be served statically.

hem test

By default hem test expects the headless browser Phantom to be installed for running tests against but you can configure this to use others as well.

Testing in this way will build your CSS and JS and run the tests against those.

Assuming tests pass you would be able to commit it to your source controll and deploy

If you're feeling lucky or if you ran your tests in the browser while hem server was going you can go straight to

hem build


Now that your application has been serialized to disk using hem build, you can deploy it. Heroku is a great option for serving Node.js and Rails applications.

If you take a peek inside package.json, you'll see that there's a dependency on ace. Ace is a super simple static file server, and all we need to serve up our application in production. Our application's Procfile looks like this:

web: ace ./public

This instructs Heroku to use Ace to serve up the application's public directory.

Now, all we need to deploy our app is run a few Heroku commands. You'll need to install the Heroku gem if you haven't already.

heroku create my-spine-app --stack cedar
git add .
git commit -m "first deploy"
git push heroku master
heroku open

Voila! Your Spine application has been deployed.