Start Date Release Date Release Versions PR link Tracking Link Stage Teams
5/23/2022 12/13/2022
  • ember-source: v4.8.3
  • Framework
  • TypeScript
  • Learning

Public API for Type-Only Imports


Introduce public import locations for type-only imports which have previously had no imports, and fully specify their public APIs for end users:

  • Owner, with RegisterOptions and Factory
  • Transition
  • RouteInfo and RouteInfoWithAttributes



Prior to supporting TypeScript, Ember has defined certain types as part of its API, but without public imports, since the types were not designed to be imported, subclassed, etc. by users. For the community-maintained type definitions, the Typed Ember team chose to match that policy so as to avoid committing the main project to public API. With the introduction of TypeScript as a first-class language (see esp. RFCs 0724: Official TypeScript Support and 0800: TypeScript Adoption Plan) those types now need public imports so that users can reference them; per the Semantic Versioning for TypeScript Types spec, they also need to define how they are public: can they be sub-classed, re-implemented, etc.?

Additionally, the lack of a public import or contract for the Owner interface has been a long-standing problem for all users, but especially TypeScript users, and given the APIs provided for e.g. the Glimmer Component class where owner is the first argument, the pervasive use of getOwner in low-level library code, etc., it is important for TypeScript users to be able to use an Owner safely, and for JavaScript users to be able to get autocomplete etc. from the types we ship.

Detailed design

Note: For the terms "user-constructible" and "user-subclassable" see the Semantic Versioning for TypeScript Types spec.


Owner is a non-user-constructible interface, with an intentionally minimal subset of the existing Owner API, aimed at what we want to support for Owner in the future:

export default interface Owner {
  lookup(fullName: FullName): unknown;

    fullName: FullName,
    factory: Factory<unknown> | object,
    options?: RegisterOptions
  ): void;

  factoryFor(fullName: FullName): FactoryManager<unknown> | undefined;

Owner is the default import from a new module, @ember/owner:

import type Owner from '@ember/owner';

function useOwner(owner: Owner) {
  let someService = owner.lookup('service:some-service');
  // ...

JS users can refer to it in JSDoc comments using import() syntax:

 * @param {import('@ember/owner').default} owner
function useOwner(owner) {
  let someService = owner.lookup('service:some-service');
  // ...

Owner is non-user-constructible because constructing it correctly also requires the ability to provide a factory manager.[^existing-owner-usage]

In support of Owner, there are also four other newly-public types: RegisterOptions, Factory, FactoryManager, and FullName.

[^existing-owner-usage]: Existing usage of the Owner interface this way (e.g. setting custom owners for tests) mostly falls under the "intimate API" rules, and will likely be deprecated after a future introduction of a createOwner() hook so that that there is a public API way to get the required type.


RegisterOptions is a user-constructible interface:

export interface RegisterOptions {
  instantiate?: boolean | undefined;
  singleton?: boolean | undefined;

Although users will not usually need to use it directly, instead simply passing it as a POJO to Owner#register, it is available as a named export from @ember/owner:

import { type RegisterOptions } from '@ember/owner';

JS users can refer to it in JSDoc comments using import() syntax:

 * @param {import('@ember/owner').RegisterOptions} registerOptions
function useRegisterOptions(registerOptions) {
  // ...


Factory is an existing concept available to users via the Engine#lookup API. The public API only includes a create method, and we maintain that in this RFC. The result is this user-constructible interface:

export interface Factory<T> {
  create(initialValues?: Partial<T>): T;

Factory is available as a named import from @ember/owner:

import { type Factory } from '@ember/owner';

function useFactory(factory: Factory<unknown>) {
  let instance = factory.create();

JS users can refer to it in JSDoc comments using import() syntax:

 * @param {import('@ember/owner').Factory<unknown>} factory
function useFactory(factory) {
  let instance = factory.create();
import { type Factory } from '@ember/owner';

class Person {
  name: string;
  age: number;

  private constructor(name: string, age: number) { = name;
    this.age = age;

class PersonFactory implements Factory<Person> {
  create({ name = "", age = 0 } = {}) {
    return new Person(name, age);

(This is not the actual usual internal implementation in Ember, but shows that it can be implemented safely with these types.)


FactoryManager is an existing concept available to users via the Engine#factoryFor API. The public API to date has included only two fields, class and create, and we maintain that in this RFC. The result is this non-user-constructible interface:

export interface FactoryManager<T> {
  readonly class: Factory<T>;
  create(initialValues?: Partial<T>): T;

FactoryManager is now available as a named import from @ember/owner:

import { type FactoryManager } from '@ember/owner';

JS users can refer to it in JSDoc comments using import() syntax:

 * @param {import('@ember/owner').FactoryManager} factoryManager
function useFactoryManager(factoryManager) {
  // ...


The FullName type is a user-constructible alias for Ember’s string namespacing:

export type FullName = `${string}:${string}`;

This form allows both the namespaced (namespace@type:name) and non-namespaced (type:name) variants of these keys. It does not fully validate that these match Ember’s own internal rules for these types, but provides a bare-minimum check on the type safety of strings passed into Owner APIs.

Although users will not usually need to use it directly, instead simply passing it as a string literal to Owner#lookup, Owner#register, or Owner#factoryFor, it is available as a named import from @ember/owner:

import { type FullName } from '@ember/owner';

JS users can refer to it in JSDoc comments using import() syntax:

 * @param {import('@ember/owner').FullName} fullName
function useFullName(fullName) {
  // ...

getOwner and setOwner

Both of the existing getOwner and setOwner functions now make much more sense as named exports from @ember/owner. They will also now take owner as the type of their argument explicitly:

export function getOwner(object): Owner | undefined;
export function setOwner(object: unknown, owner: Owner): void;

The existing exports from @ember/application will become re-exports of these functions. The existing exports will also be deprecated, with the deprecation becoming "Available" no earlier than the first minor after an LTS containing the updated import location. For example, if getOwner and setOwner are available to import from @ember/owner in Ember v4.7, the deprecation for the imports from @ember/application would not be deprecated until at least Ember v4.9, after Ember v4.8 LTS.[^timeline]

[^timeline]: This is in line with our normal approach to deprecation: it allows the addon ecosystem to absorb the change via LTS support releases, so that consuming apps are not flooded with deprecations without recourse.


Transition is a non-user-constructible, non-user-subclassable class. It is identical to the existing public API, with two new features:

  • the specification of the generic type T representing the resolution state of the Promise associated with the route (and used with RouteInfoWithAttributes; see below)
  • a public import location

Since it is neither constructible nor implementable, it should be supplied as type-only export. For example:

class _Transition<T = unknown>
  implements Pick<Promise<T>, 'then' | 'catch' | 'finally'> {

  data: Record<string, unknown>;
  readonly from: RouteInfoWithAttributes<T> | null;
  readonly promise: Promise<T>;
  readonly to: RouteInfo | RouteInfoWithAttributes<T>;
  abort(): Transition<T>;
  followRedirects(): Promise<T>;
  method(method?: string): Transition<T>;
  retry(): Transition<T>;
  trigger(ignoreFailure: boolean, name: string): void;
  send(ignoreFailure: boolean, name: string): void;

  // These names come from the Promise API, which Transition implements.
  then<TResult1 = T, TResult2 = never>(
    onfulfilled?: (value: T) => TResult1 | PromiseLike<TResult1>,
    onrejected?: (reason: unknown) => TResult2 | PromiseLike<TResult2>,
    label?: string,
  ): Promise<TResult1 | TResult2>;
  catch<TResult = never>(
      onRejected?: (reason: unknown) => TResult | PromiseLike<TResult>,
      label?: string,
  ): Promise<TResult | T>;
  finally(onFinally?: () => void, label?: string): Promise<T>;

export default interface Transition<T> extends _Transition<T> {}

It is the default import from @ember/routing/transition:

import type Transition from '@ember/routing/transition';

JS users can refer to it in JSDoc comments using import() syntax:

 * @param {import('@ember/routing/transition').default} theTransition
function takesTransition(theTransition) {
  // ...


RouteInfo is a non-user-constructible interface. It is identical to the existing public API, with the addition of a public import.

export default interface RouteInfo {
  readonly child: RouteInfo | null;
  readonly localName: string;
  readonly name: string;
  readonly paramNames: string[];
  readonly params: Record<string, string | undefined>;
  readonly parent: RouteInfo | null;
  readonly queryParams: Record<string, string | undefined>;
  readonly metadata: unknown;
    callback: (item: RouteInfo, index: number, array: RouteInfo[]) => boolean,
    target?: unknown
  ): RouteInfo | undefined;

It is the default import from @ember/routing/route-info:

import type RouteInfo from '@ember/routing/route-info';

JS users can refer to it in JSDoc comments using import() syntax:

 * @param {import('@ember/routing/route-info').default} routeInfo
function takesRouteInfo(routeInfo) {
  // ...


RouteInfoWithAttributes is a non-user-constructible interface, which extends RouteInfo by adding the attributes property. The attributes property represents the resolved return value from the route's model hook:

export interface RouteInfoWithAttributes<T = unknown> extends RouteInfo {
  attributes: T;

It is a named export from @ember/routing/route-info:

import { type RouteInfoWithAttributes } from '@ember/routing/route-info';

JS users can refer to it in JSDoc comments using import() syntax:

 * @param {import('@ember/routing/route-info').RouteInfoWithAttributes} routeInfo
function takesRouteInfoWithAttributes(routeInfoWithAttributes) {
  // ...


The resolver is a contract implemented by libraries outside Ember itself, such as ember-resolver, ember-strict-resolver, and any number of custom resolvers which exist in apps across the ecosystem. It has never had public documentation, but is fully public API. It is a user-constructible interface with the following definition (using the Factory and FullName types exported from the new @ember/owner module):

export type KnownForTypeResult<Name extends string> = {
  [fullName in `${Name}:${string}`]: boolean | undefined;

export interface Resolver {
  knownForType?: <Name extends string>(type: Name) => KnownForTypeResult<Name>;
  lookupDescription?: (fullName: FullName) => string;
  makeToString?: (factory: Factory<object>, fullName: FullName) => string;
  normalize?: (fullName: FullName) => string;
  resolve(name: string): Factory<object> | object | undefined;

The KnownForTypeResult utility type associated with it is also available as a named export. Unfortunately, due to currently limitations with TypeScript, you will generally have to cast to it, but it provides some type safety to callers, because it will only allow types corresponding to the passed string if users pass a string literal.

Both are available as named, type-only, user-constructible interfaces from @ember/owner:

import { Resolver, KnownForTypeResult } from '@ember/owner';

How we teach this

These concepts all already exist, but need updates to and in some cases wholly new pages in Ember's API docs.


  • We need to introduce API documentation in a new, dedicated module for Owner, @ember/owner. The docs on Owner itself should become the home for much of the documentation currently shared across the EngineInstance and ApplicationInstance classes.

  • We need to document the relationship between EngineInstance and ApplicationInstance as implementations of Owner.

  • We must update the existing docs for factoryFor to clarify that it is the only public API for getting a FactoryManager.

Transition, RouteInfo, and RouteInfoWithAttributes

These types need two updates to the existing API documentation:

  • Specify the modules they can be imported from (as noted above).

  • Specify that these types are not meant to be implemented by end users. For example:

While the Transition interface can be imported to name the type for use in your own code, it is not user-implementable. The only supported way to get a Transition is by using Ember's routing APIs, like the transitionTo method on the router service.


While the RouteInfo interface can be imported to name the type for use in your own code, it is not user-implementable. The only supported way to get a RouteInfo is using a public API which provides it, including but not limited to:

  • the from or to properties on an instance of the Transition class
  • the currentRoute property on the RouterService class
  • the child or parent properties on another RouteInfo instance, or as returned from the find() method on a RouteInfo

Blog post

Besides the API docs described above and the usual discussion of new features in an Ember release blog post, we will include an extended discussion in that blog post, a blog post timed to come out around the same time as that release, or a blog post corresponding to when we add them to DefinitelyTyped, as makes the most sense. That post will situate these as part of the work done on the "road to TypeScript":

  • emphasizing the benefits to both JS and TS users

  • providing a straightforward explanation of the "non-user-constructible" constraint and refer users to the Semantic Versioning for TypeScript Types spec for more details

  • explaining some choices about the public Owner API:

    • that it includes the subset of the Owner API we want to maintain over time, not the full set available on the EngineInstance type, much of which we expect to deprecate over the course of the 4.x release cycle
    • that it does not include type safe registry look-ups, since we are waiting to see what TypeScript does with the Stage 3 decorators spec before deciding how to work with registries going forward[^revise]

[^revise]: Depending on implementation timelines, it is possible we will revise this based on what TypeScript ships in the meantime.

More general work to clarify the use of TypeScript with these APIs will be addressed as part of the forthcoming RFCs on integrating TypeScript into Ember's docs.


For once: none! These are already all "intimate API" at minimumOwner is effectively public API—and the only difference between the status quo and the proposed outcome is that users can know these imports won't break. Moreover, the design here is forward-compatible with any iterations on these types we can currently foresee, including expanding the type of Owner#lookup to support registry, changes to the Owner API per RFC #0585: Improved Ember Registry APIs, or future directions for the Ember routing layer.


  • We could leave these in their private API locations.
  • We could not publish these types at all, and have users continue to use utility types to name them (ReturnType etc.).

Unresolved questions

  • Should Owner be exported from @glimmer/owner instead? Presently, that acts as only a pass-through, with the notion of an owner being delegated to implementors of the various Glimmer "manager" APIs..

  • Should Owner have any other of its existing APIs, and in particular should it be identical to the APIs exposed via EngineInstance, including these additional methods?

    • inject
    • ownerInjection
    • registerOptions
    • registerOptionsForType
    • registeredOption
    • registeredOptions
    • registeredOptionsForType
    • unregister

    (Since Owner itself has never been public API, and we hope to deprecate and remove all of these methods in the 4.x → 5.0 era, it seems best to leave them off of Owner in the newly-public API, only publishing the interface we want to support long-term.

  • Should Owner be directly user-constructible, or should users be restricted to subclassing one of the existing concrete instances (Engine or its subclass Application)?