Knockout that cascading dropdown

Marco Franssen

Marco Franssen /

3 min read492 words

Cover Image for Knockout that cascading dropdown

In this article I will explain how you can make cascading dropdowns with Knockout.js. Knockout.js is a JavaScript library which provides you some stuff to implement the MVVM pattern.  Knockout provides you the following stuff:

  • Declarative bindings: (Easily associate DOM elements with model data using a concise, readable syntax);
  • Automatic UI Refresh: (When your data model's state changes, your UI updates automatically)
  • Dependency tracking: (Implicitly set up chains of relationships between model data, to transform and combine it)
  • Templating: (Quickly generate sophisticated, nested UIs as a function of your model data)

In the example below I use jQuery to get some json from the server.

<!DOCTYPE html>
        <title>Knockout js cascading dropdown example</title>
        <script src="jquery-1.8.2.min.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
        <script src="knockout-2.1.0.js" type="text/javascript"></script>
        var viewModel = {
            country: ko.observable(),
            countries: ko.observableArray(),
            state: ko.observable(),
            states: ko.observableArray(),
            city: ko.observable(),
            cities: ko.observableArray(),
            result: ko.observable()
        viewModel.countrySelect = ko.computed({
            write: function (country) {
                $.getJSON('http://localhost:56502/KnockoutJS/CascadingDropdown/States/' + country.value, null, function (response) {
            owner: viewModel
        viewModel.stateSelect = ko.computed({
            read: viewModel.state,
            write: function (state) {
                $.getJSON('http://localhost:56502/KnockoutJS/CascadingDropdown/Cities/' + state.value, null, function (response) {
            owner: viewModel
        viewModel.result = ko.computed(function () {
            var result = '';
            result += != undefined ? 'Country: ' + + ', ' : '';
            result += this.state() != undefined ? 'State: ' + this.state().text + ', ' : '';
            result += != undefined ? 'City: ' + : '';
            return result;
        }, viewModel);
        $(function () {
            $.getJSON('http://localhost:56502/KnockoutJS/CascadingDropdown/Countries/', null, function (response) {
        <h1>Knockout js cascading dropdown example</h1>
        <select data-bind="options: countries, optionsCaption: 'Choose country...', optionsValue: function(item) { return item.value; }, optionsText: function(item) { return item.text; }, value: countrySelect, valueUpdate: 'change'" id="Country" name="Country"></select>
        <select data-bind="options: states, optionsCaption: 'Choose state...', optionsValue: function(item) { return item.value; }, optionsText: function(item) { return item.text; }, value: stateSelect, valueUpdate: 'change'" id="State" name="State"></select>
        <select data-bind="options: cities, optionsCaption: 'Choose city...', optionsValue: function(item) { return item.value; }, optionsText: function(item) { return item.text; }, value: city, valueUpdate: 'change'" id="State" name="City"></select>
        <span data-bind="text: result"></span>

The json data should be an array of objects containing a value and text property. As you can see I use the html5 data-bind attribute to map my view model to my UI elements.

For example your ASP.NET MVC3 action could look like this.

public JsonResult States(string country)
    var states = _countryRepository.GetStates(country)
        .Select(s => new {
            text = s.StateName,
            value = c.StateCode
    return new JsonResult { Data = states, JsonRequestBehavior = JsonRequestBehavior.AllowGet };

I wrote the examples in notepad, so there could be some issues. However if I did my job well this should be all to let all the magic happen.

Didn't this knocked out a bunch of javascript code you would write normally?

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