Creating and using JavaScript assets in Odoo

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Framework JavaScript
V 15.0
+/- 17 minutes
Written by Géry Debongnie

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1. Introduction

This tutorial is a second in a series of tutorials about the JavaScript framework. In this tutorial we will explain how Odoo manages assets and how to add your own assets. We'll create a custom JavaScript module that implements a client action. Finally we'll add a menuitem and action and we'll load our own XML template. After this tutorial you should have a good knowledge about these basics and you can create your own custom views/actions.

2. Overview of the Odoo assets management

The very first thing that you need to know is how Odoo manages assets. Like most applications, Odoo needs to interact with a lot of assets (JavaScript, CSS, XML). Odoo has a very unique feature for assets: modules are designed to be installed/removed at runtime. This means that the set of JavaScript (and other) files is not known when the server is deployed initially and that it can change at any moment in time. It actually depends on all the installed modules, and these modules can be updated at any time. Because of that, Odoo needs to be able to build/prepare its assets at runtime.

2.1 Types of assets

In Odoo we have three important categories of assets:

  • JavaScript files. All "active" files are concatenated and minified in various "bundles". These bundles are loaded from the main template and contains all the JavaScript code that describes the web clients and all its dependencies. It also contains many libraries - such as jQuery hotkeys, date pickers, bootstrap, Chart.js and many more - and some of these libraries are lazy loaded by Odoo.
  • CSS files. The stylesheets can be described as CSS files or SCSS files. Odoo will first compile SCSS files and then bundles all CSS files together (and minifies them).
  • XML files: these files contain the templates. Each module describes which template files are necessary. These files will then be processed by the server, translated and sent to the web client whenever Odoo finished loading them. Note that these XML files use the QWeb templating engine, just like templates rendered on the server. The difference is that they are rendered by the web browser (there is a JavaScript implementation of QWeb available in the assets).

2.2 Understanding asset bundles

Finally, it is important to understand the main categories of bundles. If you open the network tab of your web browser and reload Odoo, you will probably see some requests that look like this:

The first two lines are the output of the assets_common bundle. Bundles contain JS and CSS files, which are converted into a single JS and a single CSS file. The next two lines are the output of the assets_backend bundle, and the last request is the call to fetch all QWeb templates. It may be important to explain a small weird bit of Odoo terminology: in Odoo, the term frontend refers to the public website, and backend to the web client, not to the server. This is very confusing for people that work with other system, but its incredibly hard to change.

Anyway, from the name of these bundles, you may expect that there is a asset_frontend bundle, and you're right. The asset_common bundle should contain files that are shared between the website and the web client, and then the other two bundles are specific.

2.3 Adding assets

So, how do you add assets to Odoo? You can inherit an existing bundle named "web.assets_backend" by adding an option in the Odoo knows how to build an asset bundle by first rendering the "web.assets_backend" bundle after it applied all extensions. Notice that a bundle contains JavaScript, CSS and SCSS files. Your code would look like this:

     'assets': { 
         'web.assets_backend': [ 

3. Creating our first JS module

Enough theory, let's create our very first JavaScript module! To be able to do this we will need to interact with the Odoo JavaScript module system. Create a new JavaScript file in your custom module under "/static/src/js" named "hello_world.js". Add this code for now and I'll explain it afterwards:

                    odoo.define('hello_world.main', function (require) {  const AbstractAction = require('web.AbstractAction');  console.log(AbstractAction);});                                    

This is how a JavaScript file can describe a module. JavaScript modules are defined by a name ("hello_world.main" here), and a function. That function receives a special "require" function that allows the module to import other modules.

Note that to prevent name clashes (module names have to be unique), there is a naming convention: module names should be prefixed with the Odoo module name. To make this code available in the web browser, we need to force Odoo to rebuild the asset bundles. To do that, we can either restart the server or update the module.
Tip: This may not be necessary if your server is started with the dev=all flag or if Odoo is accessed in debug=assets mode.
Refresh your browser. You'll now see a message in your web browser its console that looks like this:

                    ƒ Class(){if(this.constructor!==OdooClass){...                                    

This is the output of logging a widget in the console. This means that we successfully imported a JavaScript object defined in the Odoo assets.

4. Making a client action

The next step is to add a client action to our JavaScript. The "Abstraction" class that we imported is the base class for all client actions, which are widgets managed by the Odoo web client. Actions are basically tiny applications that manage the main area of the screen. For now, we will subclass this action so it displays a message. Let's modify our JS code:

                    odoo.define('hello_world.main', function (require) {  const AbstractAction = require('web.AbstractAction');  const core = require('web.core');  const OurAction = AbstractAction.extend({      start: function () {          this.$el.html('hello');      }  });  core.action_registry.add('hello_world.action', OurAction);});                                    

So, what does this code do? We use the "extend" method to subclass a widget. We'll go into more detail about classes and widgets in the next tutorial. For now you just need to know that we create a subclass to add our custom code into Odoo.

This JavaScript module now does two different things: it defines a widget (named "OurAction" and inheriting from AbstractAction) and it registers it in the "action_registry" object. This is a very common way of working with Odoo: defining objects, then registering them. This is the way the Odoo web client is made aware of the existence of widgets defined in any module.

Once this is done, "hello_world.action" is a valid action name from the point of view of the web client. There is still no way to open it from the user interface (see next chapter), but we can already test it manually, by running a command in the console:


Note that working with Odoo does not require understanding or learning the above command! This is just a quick way to test something in the web client: the first part (["web.web_client"]) gives you a reference to the instance of the WebClient widget that is currently displayed in the UI. Then, we call the do_action method to ask the web client to perform an action.
If all goes well, you should now see a nice greeting in the Odoo interface.

5. Adding an action and menuitems

Clearly, writing commands in the console is not the perfect way of interacting with Odoo. Lets add an action and a menuitem to make it easier and available for all our users. Create a new folder "views" if you don't have it yet and then create a new XML file named "views.xml" inside. In this XML file we'll create an action and a menuitem that calls our action. Your code should look like this:


We also have to update our "__manifest.py__" file so that Odoo knows it should load this new XML file. Open up your manifest and add the file in the "data" key:

                    'data': ['views/views.xml'],                                    

Since we've modified some core files for our module we have to update the module again. After updating the app you'll see there is a new menuitem which points to our client action. Our JavaScript code is now alive!

6. Adding a template

The final step is to make our widget render a custom XML template. This will teach you how to load static templates in the web browser in Odoo. Static templates work different than the default XML records. They are not loaded with an asset bundle. These templates are defined in static XML files which are registered in the manifest of your module. Once this is done the template(s) will be loaded automatically by the web client when the action is called.

Let's start by creating a new XML file. Name it "hello_world.xml" and place it under "/static/src/xml/". Let's add a very basic XML template in it:


This code will just create an XML template which shows "Hello Odoo" as a title and shows the value of "", which we'll set in JavaScript soon! Notice that we also have a CSS class "hello-world" set for styling purposes. We'll create this class later in the tutorial too. Let's first make sure that Odoo can load our XML template. Open your "__manifest.py__" file and add in a new key "qweb" which loads our XML file:

                    'qweb': ['static/src/xml/hello_world.xml',],                                    

This is enough for Odoo to know that it should load the XML as a template and that it should not be stored in the Odoo database. The last step is to modify our JavaScript widget to tell the framework that it should now be rendered with our template. Open up your "hello_world.js" file again and modify "OurAction" so that it loads the template:

                    const OurAction = AbstractAction.extend({  template: "hello_world.ClientAction",  info: "this message comes from the JS"});                                    

After updating our module - since we've modified the manifest again - and after reloading the web browser you will see the result of your work displayed in the user interface!

7. Adding CSS

We're almost done! There's just one more thing to do: adding a CSS file for our "hello-world" class. Since stylesheets are managed just like JavaScript files it works pretty much the same as adding JS files. Create a new file named "hello_world.css" under "static/src/css" and let's add in some basic CSS:

                    .hello-world {color: red;}                

Now add this CSS file to the assets bundle so that Odoo knows that it needs to load our CSS. Open your file again and add in the CSS file with a link. Your assets file should now look like this:

     'assets': { 
         'web.assets_backend': [ 

That's it! Update your module again and you'll see your client action is now styled. You should now see something like this as a result: Result custom client action

8. Conclusion

In this tutorial we've learned how Odoo manages assets and how we can work with assets. As you've noticed the process is not very complicated but it requires quite some small steps:

  • JS and CSS files should be created under the "static" folder, then added by an xpath in the appropriate asset bundle via the
  • XML static templates need to be registered in the manifest as well.
After this tutorial you know how to add JS, CSS, XML templates and how to call XML templates. It's a big step forward to creating your own widgets or even new view types and it's important to understand these steps before continuing. At this point our widget is not much more than an XML template but in the next tutorial you will learn how you can use the "Widget" class to make more interactive and complex widgets.

Tip: the next tutorial is currently still in development. It will be published soon!