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Addon structure

If a developer has worked on an Ember app before, they should feel right at home making an addon! There are many similarities between the two. In this guide, we will cover the step by step instructions.

Writing an addon is a great way to organize code, share it with others, or get the foundational knowledge to contribute to Open Source addons. By separating features into an addon instead of leaving it as an in-app component, more developers can work in parallel and breaking changes can be managed independently. Maintainability goes up, and testing becomes easier.

Since the Ember community has so many addons, one of the best ways to learn more advanced addon development is to study existing addons. If you get stuck or need to see some examples in action, Ember Observer's code search can be very helpful.

Although an addon looks and feels a lot like an Ember app, it is important to work in small steps and validate that each piece is working before writing more code. Developers who are very comfortable with Ember apps might otherwise make a lot of changes and walk into some common pitfalls that can be hard to debug in unison.

Generating the addon files

Use the Ember CLI to create the file structure for the addon. Run this command in a fresh directory, not inside an existing Ember app:

ember addon <addon-name> [options]

A directory called <addon-name> will be created containing a structure similar to an Ember app. You won't need to use all the files to make a useful addon. By convention, most Ember addons start with ember in the name, like ember-basic-dropdown. This will help other developers find your addon.

To see all options for ember addon, refer to the CLI commands reference section.

Addon file structure

In some ways, an addon is like a mini Ember app. It has a very similar file structure, uses a lot of the same API methods, and can do most things that apps can do.

Let's take a look at some of the most important files and folders in an addon, and how they are different from what you would find in an app.


This directory can hold many of the same subdirectories and files that an Ember app would, like /components/ and /templates/. For developers who are making components, most of the work will happen here.


The app directory plays an important role to help an Ember app automatically discover the components exported by an addon. The default way to make a component is to put the implementation in addon/, which allows developers to import and extend the addon component. However, Ember apps always look for components within the app namespace, so you must re-export our components from app/.

Fortunately, when you run ember generate component my-component-name in an addon project, the CLI takes care of all this re-exporting business. It creates the necessary files and code for us. Addon authors don't usually need to think about the app directory or do any work in it.


This directory is not created by default in a new addon, but you can add it manually if there are static assets (like images) that you want to include in your addon. You can add static assets in the public/ directory in your addon, and they will automatically be merged into the public directory in the host app under a folder with the name of your addon.

For example, if your addon is published to npm as @foo/my-awesome-addon, and it contains an image at public/icon.png, the host app can reference it as /@foo/my-awesome-addon/icon.png in CSS or JS.


An addon will leverage npm conventions and look for an index.js as the entry point, unless another entry point is specified via the "main" property in the package.json file. You are encouraged to use index.js as the addon entry point for your addon. index.js is also where you can interact with the build pipeline.


The ember-cli-build.js file in your addon is only used to configure the dummy application found in tests/dummy/. It is never referenced by applications which include the addon.

If you need to use ember-cli-build.js, you may have to specify paths relative to the addon root directory. For example, to configure outputPaths in the dummy app:

const EmberAddon = require('ember-cli/lib/broccoli/ember-addon');

module.exports = function(defaults) {
  let app = new EmberAddon(defaults, {
    outputPaths: {
      app: {
        js: '/assets/main.js'

  return app.toTree();


This directory contains a full Ember app for the purpose of testing the addon. When you run npm test in the addon, this dummy app is also used as the host app, as if the addon were installed into it. Many addon developers use the dummy app to hold their documentation site's content as well.


If you want other people to be able to use your addon, specify a name, license, version, the repository URL, and description. For an addon to show up on Ember Observer, it must have keywords: ["ember-addon"] and a repository URL.


This is a place to configure which versions of Ember that the test suite should check for compatibility. See the ember-try repository on GitHub for more information.


Values here will be defaults for apps that use our addon. Any changes in the host app's environment.js will overwrite these defaults.

Example of default configuration:
let ENV = {
  'your-awesome-addon': {
    awesomeLevel: 11,
    outputDebugInfo: false,