Using Ext.History

Ext.History is a small class that was released with ExtJS 2.2, making it easy to use the browser’s back and forward buttons without breaking your AJAX-only pages.

This can be really useful for any ExtJS application with more than one view, for example a simple app with a grid of Products, which can be double-clicked to reveal an edit form. Ext.History allows the user to click the back button to go back to the grid if they’re on the form, and even forward again from the grid. It does this by appending a token to the end of the url:

http://myurl.com/ (default url for the app)
http://myurl.com/#products (shows the products grid)
http://myurl.com/#products/edit/1 (shows the edit form for product 1)

This is useful, so let’s look at how to set it up. Ext.History requires that a form field and an iframe are present in the document, such as this:

<form id="history-form" class="x-hidden" action="#">
  <div>
    <input id="x-history-field" type="hidden" />
    
  </div>
</form>

The div is just there to make the markup valid. Ext.History uses the iframe to make IE play nice. Generally I don’t like to make any assumptions about what is in the DOM structure so I use Ext to generate these elements:

/**
* Creates the necessary DOM elements required for Ext.History to manage state
* Sets up a listener on Ext.History's change event to fire this.handleHistoryChange
*/
initialiseHistory: function() {
  this.historyForm = Ext.getBody().createChild({
    tag:    'form',
    action: '#',
    cls:    'x-hidden',
    id:     'history-form',
    children: [
      {
        tag: 'div',
        children: [
          {
            tag:  'input',
            id:   Ext.History.fieldId,
            type: 'hidden'
          },
          {
            tag:  'iframe',
            id:   Ext.History.iframeId
          }
        ]
      }
    ]
  });

  //initialize History management
  Ext.History.init();
  Ext.History.on('change', this.handleHistoryChange, this);
}

Ext.History.fieldId and Ext.History.iframeId default to ‘x-history-field’ and ‘x-history-frame’ respectively. Change them before running initialiseHistory if you need to customise them (Ext.History is just a singleton object so you can call Ext.History.fieldId = ‘something-else’).

The main method you’ll be using is Ext.History.add(‘someurl’). This adds a token to the history stack and effectively redirects the browser to http://myurl.com/#someurl. To create something like the grid/form example above, you could write something like this:

Ext.ns('MyApp');

MyApp.Application = function() {
  this.initialiseHistory();

  this.grid = new Ext.grid.GridPanel({
    //set up the grid...
    store: someProductsStore,
    columns: ['some', 'column', 'headers'],

    //this is the important bit - redirects when you double click a row
    listeners: {
      'rowdblclick': {
        handler: function(grid, rowIndex) {
          Ext.History.add("products/edit/" + rowIndex);
        }
      }
    }
  });

  this.form = new Ext.form.FormPanel({
    items: ['some', 'form', 'items'],

    //adds a cancel button which redirects back to the grid
    buttons: [
      {
        text: 'cancel',
        handler: function() {
          Ext.History.add("products");
        }
      }
    ]
  });

//any other app startup processing you need to perform
};

MyApp.Application.prototype = {
  initialiseHistory: function() {
    //as above
  },

  /**
   * @param {String} token The url token which has just been navigated to
   * (e.g. if we just went to http://myurl.com/#someurl, token would be 'someurl')
   */
  handleHistoryChange: function(token) {
    var token = token || "";
    switch(token) {
      case 'products':        this.showProductsGrid();     break;
      case 'products/edit/1': this.showProductEditForm(1); break;
      case '':                //nothing after the #, show a default view
    }
  },

  showProductsGrid: function() {
    //some logic to display the grid, depending on how your app is structured
  },

  showProductEditForm: function(product_id) {
    //displays the product edit form for the given product ID.
  }
};

Ext.onReady(function() {
  var app = new MyApp.Application();
});

So when you visit http://myurl.com/#products, showProductsGrid() will be called automatically, and when you visit http://myurl.com/#products/edit/1, showProductEditForm() will be called with the argument 1. You can write your own logic here to change tab or show a window or whatever it is you do to show a different view to the user.

I’m not suggesting you parse the url token using a giant switch statement like I have above – this is only an example. You could get away with something like that for a very small app but for anything bigger you’ll probably want some kind of a router. That goes a little beyond the scope of this article but it is something I will return to at a later date.

There is also an example of Ext.History available on the Ext samples pages.

3 Responses to Using Ext.History

  1. Pingback: extjstutorial.org

  2. Christiaan says:

    Run this code in IE7 or IE8 using ExtJS 3.3.1. (or heigher and probably lower as well).
    Click on the button in the Panel and look…. No back button in IE.

    Where is IE back button?

    Ext.onReady(function() {
    Ext.History.init();

    var panel=new Ext.Panel({
    title: ‘Message Title’,
    renderTo: Ext.getBody(),
    width: 200, height: 130,
    defaultType: ‘box’,
    items: {
    xtype: ‘button’,
    text: ‘Go to thanks’,
    handler: function() {
    Ext.History.add(‘thanks’);
    }
    }
    });

    Ext.History.on(‘change’, function(token) {
    panel.add({
    html: ‘history change: ‘+token
    });
    panel.doLayout();
    });
    });

  3. Christiaan says:

    Sorry, I poste HTML with it as wel which contained the form and fields required for history management. They’re not visible here. Please check:
    http://www.sencha.com/forum/showthread.php?81393-Unpredictable-behavior-of-Ext.History-and-back-button-on-IE&p=621808&viewfull=1#post621808

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