Ember makes use of the wonderful Handlebars templates. These templates, in order to be performant, must be precompiled. Based on the Ember docs, it’s not abundantly clear how this is to happen. Here’s a solution that works well.

Ember Docs for Precompilation

Every official Ember doc will put templates in a script tag with the type="text/x-handlebars". But this is never how you’d write any serious (-ly awesome) app in production. The docs say:

“If you are using build tools to manage your application’s assets, most will know how to precompile Handlebars templates and make them available to Ember.js.”

Which tools? Why would I want to precompile? How are they made available to Ember? Read, Ember journeyman, read on…


We’d love for this precompilation to happen previous to the running of your app. Again, this is in hopes of increased performance. Grunt is a great little Nodejs-based tool for build-level tasks.


Grunt comes with a variety of plugins. We’re going to use one called grunt-emblem. Emblem is a fantastic templating syntax layered on top of Handlebars (still a dependency). Its syntax looks very similar to Haml or Ruby Slim or Jade. It may well be the most flexible of all of them, and it simplifies some Ember helper syntax very nicely.

Versions Matching

As I’ve said before, matching Ember dependency version can be a pain. With precompilation, you have one more dependency to match. Now not only do you care about the version of Handlebars that Ember uses at runtime, but you care about the version of Handlebars that is used to precompile your templates. If the precompile Handlebars version doesn’t match the runtime Handlebars version, your app will die at runtime. grunt-emblem helps immensely with this.


I haven’t found another Handlebars precompile plugin that helps as much as grunt-emblem. It solves the precompile version problem by letting you utilize the actual runtime Handlebars as the precompile Handlebars script.

It is also nice in that it puts the precompiled templates into the collection that Ember expects to find templates in, namely Ember.TEMPLATES. As you can find on the grunt-emblem Github page, your grunt config will look something like the following:

matchdep = require 'matchdep'

module.exports = (grunt) ->

        files: ['app/views/templates/**/*.emblem']
        tasks: ['emblem', 'livereload']

          "app/static/templates/ember_templates.js": ["app/views/templates/**/*.emblem"]
          root: "app/views/templates/"
            jquery: "app/static/js/components/jquery/jquery.js"
            ember: "app/static/js/components/ember/ember.js"
            emblem: "app/static/js/components/emblem/dist/emblem.js"
            handlebars: "app/static/js/components/handlebars/handlebars.js"

  matchdep.filterDev('grunt-*').forEach grunt.loadNpmTasks

  grunt.renameTask 'regarde', 'watch'

  grunt.registerTask 'dev', [ 'livereload-start', 'watch' ]

This particular config has a couple other niceties. Let me enumerate the awesome:

  • Line 6 - Not only can we precompile the templates, but we’ll precompile on the fly, whenever .emblem files are change in the specified directories.
  • Line 8 and 14 - We’re precompiling .emblem templates, but this plugin can do regular Handlebars syntax as well
  • Line 16 - root is the substring that will be stripped out of your template name. For instance, you don’t want your template to be called app/views/templates/home. Your home route in Ember will want your template called home. root to the rescue – bam!
  • Line 17 - These dependencies are the libraries that you use at runtime and that Handlebars needs at compile time. As I said, this plugin simply rocks because of the ability to specify your own Handlebars script.
  • Line 23 - Remember how you used to have a whole list of npm tasks registered. This little beaut will load all grunt-* dependencies.
  • Line 25 - regarde is a cool name, but I understand what watch means a bit better. Rename it.

This setup requires the following dependencies:

npm install matchdep grunt grunt-regarde grunt-contrib-livereload grunt-emblem --save-dev

So now, seriously, go write some Emblem templates. So fun, so precompiled.