Angular has become one of the most popular front-end tools for developing web, desktop and mobile applications by the programmers. It is packed with robust components for writing readable, easy-to-use and maintainable code. Moreover, the usage of this tool by big companies like Microsoft, Cisco, AT&T, Apple, GoPro, Udemy, Adobe, UpWork, Nike, Google, AWS, YouTube and others has led to the increased demand of the Angular experts in the industry.
However, despite all its benefits, you should know both sides of this tool i.e. when to use Angular & when to avoid it. In this article, we will discuss Angular in detail, first with the basic overview then when to use it or when not to use it, and lastly all its essential tools which you should know.
At the time of its release, the popularity of SPAs was at its peak which equally helped AngularJS to become popular. But with the time, unlike many other technologies, Angular regularly came up with new functionalities which helped this framework from getting lost.
Because of the availability of other tools with better functionalities, in 2016, Google released a fully rewritten and new version of this tool and called it just “Angular”. It includes features like semantic versioning, command-line interface (CLI) and a component-based architecture.
In 2017, the Angular team launched its next version called Angular 4. It offered better bug fix alerts, was backward compatible with Angular 2, reduced code size and faster code compilation. Within just a few weeks, another version was released with an improved compiler, build optimizer and a dependence management update.
2018 saw the release of Angular 6 with new CLI commands, Ivy Renderer and Angular Elements. Recently, in March 2019, Angular released its version 8 with features like Lazy Loading, Web Workers, Faster Re-build Time, Improved Payload Size, Backward Compatibility and others.
The regular updates and improvements of this platform have become the main reasons why developers constantly find Angular useful for front-end development.
Read More: Learn about the AngularJS Evolution
Why You Should Choose Angular?
So, to answer the question, how you can benefit from Angular, there are several strong points to consider. In general, we will discuss Angular 2+, as rarely few use AngularJS. Some benefits are as following:
1. It is supported by Google
Angular is supported by the tech giant Google itself which is enough for many developers from all over the world to trust and use Angular. The Angular developers in ng-conf 2017 confirmed that Google has made the commitment to support Angular on a long-term basis.
2. Myriad of third-party components
Angular has a great ecosystem for third-party components which developers just love it. This has also played an important role in making Angular popular as it resulted in the appearance of uncountable additional tools and components which anyone can use for Angular apps. This gives extra productivity and functionality improvements.
3. Component-based architecture
It was the 2nd version of Angular when its developers decided to shift it from MVC to a component-based architecture. Because of this architecture, any app can be divided into independent logical and functional components that can be easily replaced. It can also be decoupled and reused in different parts of the app. Moreover, the independent nature of the component makes it easy for developers to test the web app and ensuring that each component works perfectly.
4. Detailed documentation
Not only it is supported by Google, but it also includes one of the most detailed documentation where you can easily find all the essential information in detail without asking anyone. This results in quick solutions and resolved issues.
Among other features, definitely, a majority of the developers throughout the world consider it as one of the most beloved features of Angular. It makes app initialization, configuration and development very easy by automating the entire development process. It also allows any developer to create a new Angular project by adding features, running unit, and end-to-end tests with just a few simple commands. The Angular CLI not only facilitates development but also greatly enhances the code quality.
6. Its compiler
7. Ivy Renderer
This is another great feature of Angular which was released with Angular6. It can translate any app’s components or templates into JS code which is then displayed by the browser. The main characteristic of Ivy Rendering is the tree shaking technique. Often while rendering, Ivy Renderer removes unused code to make the program smaller and clearer resulting in web applications to load faster.
From Angular6 and onwards, you can add custom elements in any web app which is built with Vue, React, JQuery or any other environment without difficulties.
9. Dependency injection
Dependency injection in simple terms refers to one object which supplies dependency of another object and arguable Angular’s dependency injection gives an added advantage to the programmers.
Using dependency injection makes code more maintainable and readable reducing the time spent on testing significantly. This causes reduced time and costs for web development. Because of this, Angular provides developers with a separate tree of dependency injectors since Angular version 2. Also, it can be changed and even replaced without reconfiguring all its components.
10. Easy integration of UI components
Its collection of material design elements allows any developers to integrate UI components without any hassle.
11. It is universal
When used for server-side rendering, Angular universal comes with several benefits for any of your projects. Certain factors like allowing web crawlers to improve your web app’s rank in search engines; decreasing page load time; and improving your app’s performance on mobiles help you gain more users for your website.
Read More: Top Features of Angular 7.0
What About The Flaws?
By now, we have already talked about the advantages but what about the imperfection of Angular? Are there any?
Of course, like any other tool Angular too has its weak sides which you should always consider while choosing Angular for your next projects. Certain difficulties which often developers face while using Angular are as following:
1. It is hard to learn
With all the advantages comes the complexity of the Angular which many newbies find difficult at first. Though its component-based architecture makes code very readable, still it is hard to manage and set dependencies between components in Angular. Moreover, TypeScript acts as a light to the fuel because you need extra time to learn it.
2. Problems with backward compatibility
Regardless of a complete section dedicated to various ways to deal with migration in the Angular’s documentation, developers often find difficulties with backward compatibility as they cannot switch directly from AngularJS to Angular.
3. Poor for SEO purposes
Despite all the best efforts made by the Angular team for making it SEO-friendly, several developers still complain about its poor accessibility for search crawlers. It can be explained with the fact that often SPAs or single-page applications change meta tags or content by using JS. Because of this, some search bots find difficulty to see the changes made as they only see the basic template of the page.
But for all the web applications built with Angular, developers can make additional efforts for SEO optimizations by using common solutions like Angular Universal and Prerender.io.
Read More: 10 Tips to Improve Angular Performance
When You Should Choose Angular For Your Project?
Progressive web apps (PWAs)
It was the year 2015 when Google came up with the concept of progressive web applications. Since then it has gained immense popularity and because of this, the team behind Angular is working on facilitating the process of developing PWAs. Angular5 is even equipped with built-in PWA support and the new CLI commands in Angular6 enable programmers to switch their regular web applications into progressive web applications easily.
Enterprise web apps
The Angular team doesn’t hesitate to claim that TypeScript is packed with all the features which are required for developing large-scale projects. This programming language is equipped with advanced refactoring, navigation features and auto-completion. Also, you can thank its architecture which allows you to easily reuse and maintain your code.
Apps with dynamic Content
To match the aim of Angular for creating single-page applications, its developers have added a wide range of tools dedicated to developing SPAs. Moreover, it is also ideal for making websites wherein content is required to change dynamically based on the behavior and preferences of the users. Here dependency injection ensures that if any component changes, then the other components related to it also change automatically.
When You Should Not Choose Angular?
You can’t get the whole cake. Angular may be the preferred option for websites having dynamic content but for small pages with static content, it’s insufficient. In this situation, using Angular will only increase the overall size of the app causing significantly higher loading time. Because of this, you should not use Angular for any website with static content or landing pages.
For startups with limited resources or any short-term projects, Angular isn’t the recommended option or a good solution. Along with this, if any projects have a few developers, then you should not consider Angular because its complexity might become hard to overcome.
It is not the option of choice for the developers when they are looking from SEO prospects. You should totally refrain from its use when your initial aim is for the good page ranking on any search engine. Still, if you want to use it, then be ready for all the extra efforts which are required in Angular for optimizing your web app for search engines.
Applications with a microservice design approach
On the front-end, Angular isn’t suitable for applications having microservice architecture. Also, it doesn’t give you complete control of the size of the application as you can only select the things which you really need.
Read More: Best AngularJS Tips for Beginners
Popular Angular Development Tools
Moving on to the next and more important section is the popular angular development tools that you can use to boost your productivity as a developer by providing static code analysis, code visualization, code generation, scaffolding and debugging support. All or the majority of the tools listed below are widely used by developers worldwide for building websites or applications using Angular. These tools will help you manage all your codes and data without any hassle. So let’s begin the counting!
Without a doubt, it is the number one tool used by Angular experts for development. Angular CLI provides good encapsulated build and scaffolding. This was developed by Google and enables you to quickly bootstrap your project by automatically providing build configuration, test configuration and various other benefits.
As it is based on webpack, it takes advantage of all the various webpack loaders available and also performs tree-shaking in regard to producing small bundles. Moreover, it is also known for providing smooth integration with other projects like Angular Mobile Toolkit, Angular Material, Angular Core and others.
If you are getting started with Angular then for sure, you should start your project with Angular CLI for significantly increasing your productivity and optimizing the learning experience of the whole ecosystem. And if you tend to have extensive knowledge of all the available tooling and you are looking to squeeze your production bundles to a minimum with custom solutions, then you can use an Angular project or always ng inject your application out of the CLI.
You can thank the Angular team for creating Language Service and by now, you can use it in Sublime Text, VSCode and WebStorm. Language Service basically uses an Angular compiler for producing diagnostics or parsing the application. Generally, it decorates the TypeScript programming language service so that you can reuse its logic.
That’s not all, Language Service is also not coupled to any specific Angular version and you can use it in any text editor or IDE as soon as its plugin will be available.
Often debugging in Angular gets tricky for the developers. The rendering of your UI more depends on a large amount of the mutable state across components, stateful pipes, services and directives. Luckily, inspecting the state should not always be related to debugger statements or setting breakpoints within your app’s individual building blocks. You do not always need to dig into the codebase for exploring the dependencies of a service or a given component.
Augury is simply a Chrome extension which gets plugged to the Chrome DevTools. Upon activation, you can explore the relations between the individual components of any application which are visible on the page. It also allows you to trace the component state and modify it from the provided inputs. Moreover, Augury enables you to directly jump to the source code for a specific symbol, manually trigger any events and so much more.
Several years ago, Codelyzer was started with the aim of automatically verifying any project that follows the Angular style guide. In the beginning, the project started as a couple of rules on top of tslint. These were proper implementation of life-cycle hooks, validating the selectors of our components, etc.
Now, the use and the scope of Codelyzer has grown rapidly. Currently, this tool uses CSS parsers and Angular template for providing a more sophisticated analysis for the application. Apart from verifying that the project is following the style guide, Codelyzer can find dead styles, detect misspelled variables and even automatically move a project between breaking changes & deprecation across Angular versions.
This tool can perform both deep i.e. per project or flat i.e. per file static analysis of all projects. The results which this tool generates are as follows-
- Proper implementation of life-cycle hooks
- Validation of the directive as per the style guides
- Validation of component selectors as per the style guides
- Best practices regarding the declaration of metadata of the projects
- Compatibility with ngc
- Proper component and directive naming
- Detecting dead CSS and many others
Compodoc & ngd
This is sufficient for the majority of the projects but in Angular, you get some extra semantics which will make your documentation even more rich. For example, just by grabbing all classes decorated with “@component”, you can list all the different UI components. This tool also has support for JSDoc light, includes numerous themes, is an open-source, can generate search or table of content and is available on GitHub. Adding to all this, it also uses ngd for parsing Angular applications with TypeScript parser.
With Augury, you can efficiently debug the applications with dynamic code analysis by running the application. This enables you to inspect the behavior and the structure of your project.
But in certain scenarios, you might only show your interest in the structure of the application especially, when you want to explore the individual building blocks quickly or when you are new to the project. In these situations, you don’t require the deployment of the application and here; dynamic code analysis is not required and is also not a convenient option as you only want to check different abstractions by each level without running the application.
In ng-conf 2017, ngrev was announced as a tool for reverse engineering of Angular applications. With this tool, you can visually explore the individual building blocks of your applications. Ngrev uses ngast which helps to provide a simple interface for parsing Angular projects. With this, you can build custom tools that let you statically analyze Angular projects for different purposes like security, performances and many more. Other than these, ngast also uses an Angular compiler for the most efficient and complete possible metadata collection.
Snippets for Angular
John Papa is the name behind the creation of the package of snippets for VSCode for improving your productivity. It does so by reducing the amount of boilerplate work which you are required to perform when:
- Bootstrapping an Angular application
- Declaring a route
- Declaring directive
- Declaring a new component
- Declaring guards
- Declaring a service, and others
It is one of the most popular code editors for writing programs and is used worldwide by thousands of programmers for various programming languages. It makes coding very easy for developers with all its features. Programmers even use it for adding extra functions via several plugins. Some of its notable features include:
- Goto Anything
- Command Palette
- Python API
- Syntax Highlighting
- Simultaneous Editing
- Compatible with TextMate, and others.
With this tool, you can sync your data in real-time for development purposes. It allows you to write the language on the server directly. As all the data binding between the server data and client data takes place in real-time, it is the most popular tool for development.
Read More: Meteor.js Hacks to Ensure Good Performance
Webstorm has a unified UI that allows working with VCS or Version Control Systems and is created on top of IntelliJ, an open-source platform. This tool can easily track all the changes which are made in the source files by anyone. As it serves history, you can easily restore your original data and also has a built-in terminal for running commands. Its repository is packed with numerous plugins to enrich the functionality of the framework. It is highly customizable and you even have the option to choose light or dark appearance as per your comfort.
It is used for identifying and displaying every essential thing and for this; it uses controllers and directives. You can add inspector pane with the help of the browser extension in Safari or Chrome.
Onsen UI is used by the developers for developing web applications and hybrid works. Platform detection, rotation detection, grid layout, FastClick and gesture detection are some of its widely recognized and used features. For hybrid app development, you can use it with ‘Monaca tools’ or ‘PhoneGap command line’.
This tool is compatible with Electron, SQLite, AngularJS and Bootstrap. Here, HTML, JS & CSS are used for the development purposes. Java, iOS, C++, Android and other platforms based applications can be built and tested by using this tool. It can significantly speed up the test processes and even helps to build the rebuild tasks. Bazel is compatible with Windows, Linux and macOS. With this tool, you can scale your codebase, integration system efficiently and easily. For adding and supporting a new language, Bazel also has an extension language feature.
This tool of AngularJS is perfectly used all over the world for simplifying the designer’s work by significant fold. It is packed with features like reduce dependencies, chain commands, Angular dependency injection, command flows, code organization, preceding result injection, promises based, sequence or parallel and AOP like an interception.
Videogular comprises of a system called cue points for creating virtual timelines by binding and triggering functions. Here, the directives are kept in binding conditions and users have the options for themes or various plugins that give you additional options for your designs. As per the requirements, this tool can also hide or show the components by detecting different mobile devices.
Ionic was created on top of AngularJS and Apache Cordova for building mobile applications especially the hybrid apps. In the latest version, a user can choose from Angular, React or Vue.js as interface framework. It allows you to develop desktop or mobile work and PWA’s (Progressive Web Applications). Here HTML5, CSS and Sass are used for development purposes by the programmers. Actually, Ionic is a complete software development kit.
So, with all these, we came to the last part of this article. To summarize everything, we started with the Angular timeline and then understood this tool for front-end developments. Moving further, like any other tool, we learned more about its pros and flaws, and as guessed, the Angular pros outweighed all its flaws.
Later, we analyzed various projects where Angular can be used or not. Understanding this will help you to decide whether you should go with Angular or not depending upon your project. At last, we discussed the extensive lists of all the popular and widely used tools for Angular. Obviously, we couldn’t cover all the major tools but we tried to cover different and popular tools for different purposes which any developer uses for their project.
I hope this piece was useful for you to know the Angular in detail. If you think that we have missed something then do mention in the comment section below!