When you first come to Ember, you’ll soon stumble upon three things:

  • Ember.Controller
  • Ember.ObjectController
  • Ember.ArrayController

For some people (including me) it is not very clear what’s the difference between the first two.

Ember.Controller is just a plain implementation of Ember.ControllerMixin, while Ember.ObjectController is a subclass of Ember.ObjectProxy. This is a huge difference! Let’s take a look at how Ember.ObjectProxy works, and as always starting with a code sample (taken from the excellent source code documentation).

object = Ember.Object.create({
  name: "foo"

proxy = Ember.ObjectProxy.create({
  content: object

// Access and change existing properties
proxy.get("name") // => "foo"
proxy.set("name", "bar");
object.get("name") // => "bar"

// Create new "description" property on `object`
proxy.set("description", "baz");
object.get("description") // => "baz"

There is really no magic. In the basic usage, Ember.ObjectProxy will delegate all of it’s unknown properties to the content object, with one exception.

If we try to set a new property on a proxy while it’s content is undefined, we will get an exception.

proxy = Ember.ObjectProxy.create();
proxy.set("foo", "bar"); // raises the following exception
Cannot delegate set('foo', bar) to the 'content' property
of object proxy <Ember.ObjectProxy:ember420>: its 'content' is undefined.

I’ve stumbled upon this in one scenario, where I didn’t set content for my ObjectController, but I tried to modify one of it’s properties. Raising the exception is a good example of failing fast, rather than silently swallowing errors.

This being said you should almost always use Ember.ObjectController over Ember.Controller, unless you know what you’re doing :)