Book Image

CoffeeScript Application Development

By : Ian Greenleaf Young
Book Image

CoffeeScript Application Development

By: Ian Greenleaf Young

Overview of this book

JavaScript is becoming one of the key languages in web development. It is now more important than ever across a growing list of platforms. CoffeeScript puts the fun back into JavaScript programming with elegant syntax and powerful features. CoffeeScript Application Development will give you an in-depth look at the CoffeeScript language, all while building a working web application. Along the way, you'll see all the great features CoffeeScript has to offer, and learn how to use them to deal with real problems like sprawling codebases, incomplete data, and asynchronous web requests. Through the course of this book you will learn the CoffeeScript syntax and see it demonstrated with simple examples. As you go, you'll put your new skills into practice by building a web application, piece by piece. You'll start with standard language features such as loops, functions, and string manipulation. Then, we'll delve into advanced features like classes and inheritance. Learn advanced idioms to deal with common occurrences like external web requests, and hone your technique for development tasks like debugging and refactoring. CoffeeScript Application Development will teach you not only how to write CoffeeScript, but also how to build solid applications that run smoothly and are a pleasure to maintain.
Table of Contents (19 chapters)
CoffeeScript Application Development
About the Author
About the Reviewers

Installing Node.js

To run CoffeeScript, first you'll need to install Node.js. Don't worry! If you don't want to learn Node.js, you won't need to. We just need to have the platform installed because the CoffeeScript compiler uses it.


If you get stuck at any point while installing or using Node.js, the IRC channel is a great place to look for help. You can use your IRC client of choice to connect to the #node.js room in, or you can connect through a web browser by visiting

Node.js (or simply Node) is a platform for running JavaScript at a low level, using the powerful and fast V8 engine. It's primarily used for web development, allowing developers to write the server side components of web applications in JavaScript. Node's most notable innovation is that it's highly non-blocking. Any system call that needs to wait for a result (such as network requests and disk reads) uses a callback, so Node can service another request while it waits for an operation to finish. This way of thinking meshes nicely with web applications which do a lot of network interaction, and it provides a lot of bang for your hardware buck. While we'll be using CoffeeScript to build a client side application, it works great with Node as well. We'll show you more about that in Chapter 11, CoffeeScript on the Server. The CoffeeScript compiler is written entirely in CoffeeScript and runs on Node. If you're curious, you can find the annotated CoffeeScript source on

Installing Node.js on OS X

The Node project provides several options for installation on Mac OS X. The simplest method is the universal installer. If you don't already use a package management system for your development tools, you should use the installer. If you use Homebrew or MacPorts to manage your system and would like to install Node through those, follow the instructions for your package manager instead.


If for some reason none of these methods work for you, see the Compiling Node.js manually section. However, this is more difficult and not recommended unless you really need it.

Using the installer

The Node project provides a universal installer for Mac OS X. Visit, and look for Macintosh Installer.

Download that file and double-click on it. Follow the prompts to install Node on your system.

Using Homebrew

Homebrew is a popular package management system for OS X. It maintains installed packages in a completely separate directory from the OS X system files, and offers easy package management from the command line. Homebrew offers an easy-to-use formula system to create new package definitions, and as a result offers a very large collection of user-contributed recipes.


Early versions of the Node package on Homebrew suffered from numerous bugs. Recent versions have received far fewer complaints and should be acceptable for our needs. Still, if you encounter serious problems using Node from Homebrew, consider uninstalling it and using the universal installer instead.

To install Node using Homebrew, simply use the command-line installer as follows:

brew install node


For help with Homebrew, visit the official site at

Using Macports

MacPorts is another package management system for OS X. Like Homebrew, it maintains installed packages separately from the OS X system files. MacPorts is an older project, and is modeled on the BSD ports system. While it has been waning in popularity in recent years, it still has a large user base.

To install Node using MacPorts, simply use the command-line installer as follows:

sudo port install nodejs


For help with MacPorts, visit the official site at

Installing Node.js on Windows

There are several convenient installation options for Node on Windows. The method recommended for most people is to use the installer. If you cannot install software on your machine, or for other reasons wish to isolate Node, you can use the standalone executable instead. Finally, if you are already using the third-party package manager Chocolatey to manage packages on your machine, you may install Node through that system.