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Defining Models

A model is a class that defines the properties and behavior of the data that you present to the user. Anything that the user expects to see if they leave your app and come back later (or if they refresh the page) should be represented by a model.

When you want a new model for your application you need to create a new file under the models folder and extend from Model. This is more conveniently done by using one of Ember CLI's generator commands. For instance, let's create a person model:

ember generate model person

This will generate the following file:

import Model from '@ember-data/model';

export default class PersonModel extends Model {

After you have defined a model class, you can start finding and working with records of that type.

Zoey says...
Ember Data models are normally setup using the singular form (which is why we use `person` instead of `people` here)

Defining Attributes

The person model we generated earlier didn't have any attributes. Let's add first and last name, as well as the birthday, using attr:

import Model, { attr } from '@ember-data/model';

export default class PersonModel extends Model {
  @attr firstName;
  @attr lastName;
  @attr birthday;

Attributes are used when turning the JSON payload returned from your server into a record, and when serializing a record to save back to the server after it has been modified.

You can use attributes like any other property, including from within getter functions.

import Model, { attr } from '@ember-data/model';

export default class PersonModel extends Model {
  @attr firstName;
  @attr lastName;

  get fullName() {
    return `${this.firstName} ${this.lastName}`;


You may find the type of an attribute returned by the server does not match the type you would like to use in your JavaScript code. Ember Data allows you to define simple serialization and deserialization methods for attribute types called transforms. You can specify that you would like a transform to run for an attribute by providing the transform name as the first argument to the attr method. Ember Data supports attribute types of string, number, boolean, and date, which coerce the value to the JavaScript type that matches its name.

import Model, { attr } from '@ember-data/model';

export default class Person extends Model {
  @attr('string') name;
  @attr('number') age;
  @attr('boolean') admin;
  @attr('date') birthday;

The date transform will transform an ISO 8601 string to a JavaScript date object.

The boolean transform can handle values other than true or false. The strings "true" or "t" in any casing, "1", and the number 1 will all coerce to true, and false otherwise.

Transforms are not required. If you do not specify a transform name Ember Data will do no additional processing of the value.

Custom Transforms

You can also create custom transforms with Ember CLI's transform generator:

ember generate transform dollars

Here is a simple transform that converts values between cents and US dollars.

import Transform from '@ember-data/serializer/transform';

export default class DollarsTransform extends Transform {
  deserialize(serialized) {
    return serialized / 100; // returns dollars

  serialize(deserialized) {
    return deserialized * 100; // returns cents

A transform has two functions: serialize and deserialize. Deserialization converts a value to a format that the client expects. Serialization does the reverse and converts a value to the format expected by the persistence layer.

You would use the custom dollars transform like this:

import Model, { attr } from '@ember-data/model';

export default class ProductModel extends Model {
  @attr('dollars') spent;


attr can also take a hash of options as a second parameter. At the moment the only option available is defaultValue, which can use a value or a function to set the default value of the attribute if one is not supplied.

In the following example we define that verified has a default value of false and createdAt defaults to the current date at the time of the model's creation:

import Model, { attr } from '@ember-data/model';

export default class UserModel extends Model {
  @attr('string') username;
  @attr('string') email;
  @attr('boolean', { defaultValue: false }) verified;
  @attr('date', {
    defaultValue() { return new Date(); }
  }) createdAt;

Read-only Attributes

When the API returns a deeply nested, read-only object or array, there is no need to create multiple models with attr('hasMany') or attr('belongsTo') relationships. This could result in a potentially large amount of unnecessary code. You can access these objects in the template without transforming them. This can be done by using @attr without specifying a transform:

import Model, { attr } from '@ember-data/model';

export default class PlaceModel extends Model {
  @attr location; // a read-only object
  @attr tags; // a read-only array