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14 Tips for Using AngularJS on Your Next Web Development Project

When it comes to JavaScript development, there’s a bunch of powerful frameworks available to web developers. But if you don’t know the best practices, you can get confused. For this post, let’s focus on one of these robust frameworks, AngularJS.

Making its debut in 2009, AngularJS (formally known as Locality-Filtration) is an open source JavaScript-based application framework that’s used to develop rich HTML web applications. You can do it in a modular fashion by utilizing an MVVM framework that will help you build an application with more flexibility and less code.

Maintained by Google and a community of volunteers, its aim was to replace the Google Web Toolkit. Further, as it's completely on the client side of things, you can also use it to build apps for mobile platforms.

AngularJS development has grown in popularity over the years and is currently used by over 8,400 websites. For example, it’s used by following companies:

  • ABC News
  • Intel
  • NBC
  • Sprint
  • Walgreens
  • YouTube application on PS3

Declarative Programming

AngularJS was developed around the idea of declarative programming. This means that you can build web apps by expressing the logic of the computation function without describing its computational flow. As a result, it’s best used in applications that need to define its business logic.

It’s packed with loads of features, but here are a few of the best ones:

  • Data-Binding (directives to bind HTML with JavaScript functions)
  • Dependency Injection (makes developing and testing easier with a built-in dependency injection subsystem)
  • Form Validation
  • Create Templates (develop your own HTML templates with multiple partial views or a single page)
  • Routing (routing feature to switch between views like MVC)

It’s pretty easy to learn AngularJS, but its extensive codebase can be a little intimidating even for the most seasoned veterans. So here are some tips to help you to get the most out of AngularJS on your next project.

1. Organize Your Code

If you don’t want to deal with a big mess later on, start organizing your code accurately as you develop it. Having a clean structure like keeping all the AngularJS code in one folder and putting the shared assets in another folder can help keep things nice and tidy.

Further, you can place features in a “features” folder and third-party JavaScript in a “third-party scripts” folder. It’s really down to personal preference, but following this approach can make things a lot easier to manage.

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2. Define Your Components

Take it a step further and define your components. Don’t keep your controller, model, and factory components in a single file. Instead, create three separate files and write your code in each of them accordingly.

3. Initialization and Expressions

When you start building a web application, make it a habit of loading your JavaScript code at the bottom of your HTML. This will stop HTML from affecting your JavaScript files when you load them.

Further, split complex logic into methods in the controller that can be rendered in specific views. However, each controller should only contain the logic for that specific business view.

4. Install a SideWaffle Extension

If you’re going to use the Visual Studio property, it’s a good idea to use the SideWaffle extension. This is because it makes it easy to customize the patterns used in your factories, services, and directives.

5. Maintain Business Logic in Models

As a rule, keep all your business logic in models. This will make it easy to share between controllers and other services. Further, it will also enable you to perform unit testing on models.

The model is for application logic, this means that it’s specific to your application and how it interacts. Further, controllers should only direct the code to a service or method that updates the model. It can be an advantage to create helper classes in the model to implement the basic logic.

6. Utilize Directives to Manipulate the DOM

If you come from a jQuery background, you might be tempted to use it to manipulate the DOM. But it’s a really bad idea if you’re using AngularJS to build your web app. Always use AngularJD directives to engage in any and all manipulation activities.

7. Take Advantage of Validations

There’s a wonderful feature in AngularJS that validates your form which is essentially the backbone of your application to accept user inputs. Validations will be provided as the user fills out the form and most of the time these are out-of-the-box and easy to use.

8. Use the AngularUI Router

As the router provided with AngularJS isn’t the best one out there, use the more powerful AngularUI Router instead.

9. Utilize Less and Compile it into CSS

The CSS pre-processor, Less, allows you to extend the language of CSS. As a result, you can add features like functions and mixins (among many others).

10. Put All JavaScript Files Together

Put all your JavaScript files together as streamlining your code is important. As they share a similar origin, you won’t have any problems fitting them in together.

Further, there are plenty of options when it comes to collapsing overlapping code.

11. Know When Your Code is Broadcasting

It’s crucial to know when your code is broadcasting a $http call and when it ends. As a result, it’s important to take necessary documentation steps to see it as it takes place.

This approach will also help your mental health in the long run!

12. Take Advantage of Shared Code

Once you’re comfortable with the language, you might be tempted to write all the code (like in the AngularJS controller). But it really doesn’t make sense to extend the development time when there are plenty of resources available for shared code.

13. Place the HTML into a Template Cache

You can use AngularJS’ $templateCash to store all your HTML code. So even when your HTML pages are cached, you can access it via a key rather than a URL. Further, it will negate the need for your directives to have an inline reference for them to work during the testing phase.

14. Define the Scope

As a rule, don’t create properties in the scope, use the object instead. Further, the scope should always be read only in templates and write-only in controllers. It’s one of the most important features, so every developer must be aware of it.

Beyond these tips, try to avoid common mistakes like accessing the scope through DOM or not using the controllerAS Syntax.

Another common mistake is not using named views in the UI-Router for power. Likewise, avoid overusing resolves as they will add extra time to your loading view and slow down the project.

What else would you add to this list? Feel free to share your thoughts and experience in the Comments section below.

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