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Connecting to an HTTP Server

If your Ember application needs to load JSON data from an HTTP server, this guide will walk you through the process of configuring Ember Data to load records in whatever format your server returns.

The store uses an object called an adapter to know how to communicate over the network. By default, the store will use DS.RESTAdapter, an adapter that communicates with an HTTP server by transmitting JSON via XHR.

This guide is divided into two sections. The first section covers what the default behavior of the adapter is, including what URLs it will request records from and what format it expects the JSON to be in.

The second section covers how to override these default settings to customize things like which URLs data is requested from and how the JSON data is structured.

URL Conventions

The REST adapter uses the name of the model to determine what URL to send JSON to.

For example, if you ask for a photo record by ID:

export default Ember.Route.extend({
  model: function(params) {
    return this.store.findRecord('photo', params.photo_id);

The REST adapter will automatically send a GET request to /photos/1.

The actions you can take on a record map onto the following URLs in the REST adapter:

ActionHTTP VerbURL
Find AllGET/photos

JSON Conventions

Given the following models:

import DS from 'ember-data';

export default DS.Model.extend({
  title:    DS.attr(),
  comments: DS.hasMany('comment'),
  user:     DS.belongsTo('user')
import DS from 'ember-data';

export default DS.Model.extend({
  body: DS.attr()

Ember Data expects that a GET request to /posts/1 would return the JSON in the following format:

  "post": {
    "id": 1,
    "title": "Rails is omakase",
    "comments": ["1", "2"],
    "user" : "dhh"

  "comments": [{
    "id": "1",
    "body": "Rails is unagi"
  }, {
    "id": "2",
    "body": "Omakase O_o"

To quickly prototype a model and see the expected JSON, try using the Ember Data Model Maker by Andy Crum.

Customizing the Adapter

To customize the REST adapter, create a app/adapters/application.js file and export a subclass of DS.RESTAdapter. You can then override its properties and methods to customize how records are retrieved and saved.

export default DS.RESTAdapter.extend({

Customizing a Specific Model

It's entirely possible that you need to define options for just one model instead of an application-wide customization. In that case, you can create an adapter named after the model you are specifying:

export default DS.RESTAdapter.extend({
  namespace: 'api/v2',
  host: 'https://api.example2.com'
export default DS.RESTAdapter.extend({
  namespace: 'api/v1',
  host: 'https://api.example.com'

This allows you to easily connect to multiple API versions simultaneously or interact with different domains on a per model basis.

Customizing URLs

URL Prefix

If your JSON API lives somewhere other than on the host root, you can set a prefix that will be added to all requests.

For example, if you are using a versioned JSON API, a request for a particular person might go to /api/v1/people/1.

In that case, set namespace property to api/v1.

export default DS.RESTAdapter.extend({
  namespace: 'api/v1'

Requests for a person with ID 1 would now go to /api/v1/people/1.

URL Host

If your JSON API runs on a different domain than the one serving your Ember app, you can change the host used to make HTTP requests.

Note that in order for this to work, you will need to be using a browser that supports CORS, and your server will need to be configured to send the correct CORS headers.

To change the host that requests are sent to, set the host property:

export default DS.RESTAdapter.extend({
  host: 'https://api.example.com'

Requests for a person with ID 1 would now target https://api.example.com/people/1.

Custom HTTP Headers

Some APIs require HTTP headers, e.g. to provide an API key. Arbitrary headers can be set as key/value pairs on the RESTAdapter's headers property and Ember Data will send them along with each ajax request.

For Example

export default DS.RESTAdapter.extend({
  headers: {
    'API_KEY': 'secret key',
    'ANOTHER_HEADER': 'Some header value'

Requests for any resource will include the following HTTP headers.

ANOTHER_HEADER: Some header value
API_KEY: secret key