• function

Specify what happens when a certain property is read on a map. get functions work like a can.compute and automatically update themselves when a dependent observable value is changed.

get( [lastSetValue] )

Defines the behavior when a value is read on a can.Map. Used to provide properties that derive their value from other properties of the map, or update their value from the changes in the value that was set.


  1. lastSetValue {*}Optional

    The value last set by .attr(property, value). Typically, lastSetValue should be an observable value, like a can.compute or promise. If it's not, it's likely that a define.set should be used instead.



The value of the property.

get( lastSetValue, setAttrValue(value) )

Asynchronously defines the behavior when a value is read on a can.Map. Used to provide property values that are available asynchronously.


  1. lastSetValue {*}

    The value last set by .attr(property, value).

  2. setAttrValue {function(value)}

    Updates the value of the property. This can be called multiple times if needed.


Getter methods are useful for:

  • Defining virtual properties on a map.
  • Defining property values that change with their internal set value.

Virtual properties

Virtual properties are properties that don't actually store any value, but derive their value from some other properties on the map.

Whenever a getter is provided, it is wrapped in a can.compute, which ensures that whenever its dependent properties change, a change event will fire for this property also.

var Person = can.Model.extend({
    define: {
        fullName: {
            get: function () {
                return this.attr("first") + " " + this.attr("last");

var p = new Person({first: "Justin", last: "Meyer"});

p.attr("fullName"); // "Justin Meyer"

p.bind("fullName", function(ev, newVal){
  newVal //-> "Lincoln Meyer";


Asyncronous virtual properties

Often, a virtual property's value only becomes available after some period of time. For example, given a personId, one might want to retrieve a related person:

var AppState = can.Map.extend({
  define: {
    person: {
      get: function(lastSetValue, setAttrValue){
        Person.findOne({id: this.attr("personId")})

Asyncronous properties should be bound to before reading their value. If they are not bound to, the get function will be called each time.

The following example will make multiple Person.findOne requests:

var state = new AppState({personId: 5});
state.attr("person") //-> undefined

// called sometime later ...
state.attr("person") //-> undefined

However, by binding, the compute only reruns the get function once personId changes:

var state = new AppState({personId: 5});

state.bind("person", function(){})

state.attr("person") //-> undefined

// called sometime later
state.attr("person") //-> Person<{id: 5}>

A template like can.stache will automatically bind for you, so you can pass state to the template like the following without binding:

var template = can.stache("<span>{{person.fullName}}</span>");
var state = new AppState({});
var frag = template(state);

frag.childNodes[0].innerHTML //=> ""

// sometime later
frag.childNodes[0].innerHTML //=> "Lincoln Meyer"

The magic tags are updated as personId, person, and fullName change.

Properties values that change with their internal set value

A getter can be used to derive a value from a set value. A getter's lastSetValue argument is the last value set by attr.

For example, a property might be set to a compute, but when read, provides the value of the compute.

var MyMap = can.Map.extend({
  define: {
    value: {
      get: function( lastSetValue ){
        return lastSetValue();

var map = new MyMap();
var compute = can.compute(1);
map.attr("value", compute);

map.attr("value") //-> 1
map.attr("value") //-> 2

This technique should only be used when the lastSetValue is some form of observable, that when it changes, can update the getter value.

For simple conversions, set or type should be used.

Updating the virtual property value

It's very common (and better performing) to update the virtual property value instead of replacing it.

The following example creates an empty locationIds can.List when a new instance of Store is created. However, as locations change, the can.List will be updated with the ids of the locations.

var Store = can.Map.extend({
    define: {
        locationIds: {
            Value: can.List,
            get: function(initialValue){
                var ids = [];
                return initialValue.replace(ids);