AngularJS – Philosophy and Best Practices

I’ve written a thoughtful answer to the question about AngularJS best practices on Quora. I think it is worth sharing here,

AngularJS is a JavaScript framework for building client-side web applications.

AngularJS is especially useful while building Data-Driven, CRUD, Single Page Applications – let’s explore that a bit-

Single Page Applications are web app which fits in a single web page, to provide fluid user experiences like a desktop or native smartphone application.
Gmail, Google Maps web applications are perfect examples of Single Page Apps.

AngularJS provides powerful tools to build SPAs.

Data-driven, CRUD (Create Read Update Delete ) Apps –

Irrespective of the capabilities of the modern web ecosystem, most of the web apps remain Line of Business, RDBMS based, CRUD operations-driven Information Management Systems –

A typical example would be an HRMS or a CMS.

Now, such kind of apps are the sweet spot of AngularJS – if you’re building one of such apps, AngularJS is the best choice for you, to build a client-side application!

Architectural Considerations

The Backend

The backend web application should be a service-oriented, RESTful one.
Read here – Representational State Transfer (REST)

Also, it should achieve the Richardson Maturity Model Level 2 for the REST architecture.

In simplest terms, it means, every backend functionality should be accessible via web services, which are stateless, and should be represented as interactive resources over HTTP via URIs and proper verbs.

The Frontend

I recommend using yeoman/generator-angular for generating AngularJS application and further code generation, as it follows some of the best practices about how one should structure the application and manage the development workflow.

I will explain the responsibilities of various components of AngularJS apps –

Views / Templates –
In AngularJS, templates contain HTML markup along with templating syntax for DECLARATIVELY adding data-driven dynamism to the web app.

Controllers –
Just like any other MVC framework, Controllers in Angular are glue to the whole application.
Controllers hold “Models” which are representative of application’s domain models.
These models are bound to the declared models in the template.
Templates are bound to a controller via “scope”.

Services and Factories –
Services in Angular are application domain models experts.
These are connected to your backend models and holds the capabilities of performing operations on models.
In simple terms, all your API calls are written in Services or Factories.

Routes, like traditional routing, can be used to manage the state of the client app & the template-controller bindings.

Controllers use Services to perform “behaviors”.
But the core business logic of operation on data in the backend is written in services

Directives –
One of the most powerful features of AngularJS –
Directives provide an extension to HTML markup-
You can create self-managed, autonomous “components” which can be reused throughout the web applications by creating a directive!
A directive has it’s scope, controller, linking function among many other things!

You can also use directives to create a domain-specific language!

For example,
When you’re building a typical “Login” functionality for your client-side app,
You’ll create an Angular service called AuthenticationService or UserService. You’ll write the API call for actual login/authentication checking via backend.

Now, you’ll create a template “LoginView”, declare you model “User” binding it to the inputs.

Now, you’ll create AuthenticationController, bind it with “LoginView” in which you’ll initialize the “user” model, and write behavior around it.
Your controller will use “AuthenticationService” to check whether credentials are correct.
The necessary behavior like redirection or showing error messages is the responsibility of the controller.

There are many other concepts that would be helpful in the long run, but I think starting from this basic architectural understanding would set the right mental framework for architecting the web app and optimize your development process and reusability of the code.

Further reading – This article explains some of these AngularJS concepts in detail. Do check it out.