Jef Claes

On software and life

16 Mar 2014

Building a live dashboard with some knockout

Last week, we added a dashboard to our back office application that shows some actionable data about what’s going on in our system. Although we have infrastructure in place to push changes to the browser, it seemed more reasonable to have the browser fetch fresh data every few minutes.

We split the dashboard up in a few functional cohesive widgets. On the server, we built a view-optimized read model for each widget. On the client, we wrote a generic view model that would fetch the raw read models periodically.

var ajaxWidgetModel = function (options) {
    var self = this; = ko.observable();
    self.tick = function () {
        $.get(options.url, function (data) {

    setInterval(self.tick, options.interval);

We then used knockout.js to bind the view models to the widgets.

    new ajaxWidgetModel({ url: "/api/dashboard/tickets", interval: 30000 }), 

<div class="widget-title">
<div class="widget-content" id="widget_tickets" data-bind="with: data">
    <table class="table">

The with data-binding ensures that the content container only gets shown when the read model data has been fetched from the server.

Building dumb view-optimized read models on the server, binding them to a widget with one line of code, and some templating, allowed us to quickly build a live dashboard in a straightforward fashion.