Baby steps with AngularJS

As I dive into front-end web development head first, I’m quickly learning that things don’t always work perfectly. Let me start of by saying AngularJS is a fairly new javascript library/framework compared to others aiming to solve the client side application problem. When I was tasked at picking a tool/framework, I chose AngularJS for a few reasons.

Why AngularJS?

To begin, I read a blog post written by the creator of Knockout.js where I have previous development experience. Anderson the author, in my opinion gave a very non-biased evaluation of libs/frameworks that already exist; and I recommend it for anyone who is looking to understand the differences of these frameworks.

When it came time to deciding, I narrowed my choices to backbone.js for it’s age, size and community; Knockout.js because of my previous experience; and of course AngularJS for its emphasis on Design pattens, testing, and its google… Looking back, I should have considered Ember.js as well, from what I read, it bring comparable features, design patterns and works really well against a RoR back-end.

My introduction to AngularJS

Once I got my hands dirty in Angular, I started to understand the good parts, and the bad. Now let me explain - When I started building a simple angular app, I experienced getting data from a server, binding data to the DOM and watching the scope (angular concept) change the DOM as I interacted with the application (clicks, inputs, etc..). It was simple, and intuitive. Understanding Dependency Injection [DI] took some time to understand, but Angular really showed its strengths when used with the jasmine testing framework! here is my first SO angular question :).

The next big hurdle I had to accomplish was how to integrate with third party libraries - in my case fineuploader. I wish I had more time to implement my own solution here but I didn’t; so I had to figure out the best way to integrate this into my angular app. I think the code below is common practice and allows you to inject the external lib into any module you need:

/*globals qq*/
'use strict';

angular.module('fineUploaderService', []).factory('fineUploader', [function(){
  return qq;

But the thing I didn’t know at the time is how a ‘directive’ could also help me in integrating with this third party plugin (more on ‘directives’ in the next section). Continuing to integrate fineuploader I had troubles integrating each callback function for the uploading process. I ended up with a bunch of code that worked, but was a nightmare to test, and I actually decided not to test it (Bad idea for functionality so core to my application!).


Once you understand that directives are the underlying concept within Angular, you start to understand how everything works. Especially how all the ng-* directives work! Of course every developer starts out, ng-model, on an input, and watches it change a list or something without needing to write any javascript - and our minds are blown!

Directives are powerful because you can easily create functionality that is re-useable throughout your application. For example encapsulating page layout, events, and components (such as a quantity spinner). What makes this even more powerful is the ability to combine directives together, a common use is to have a custom directive require ng-model so that a directive will throw an error if there is no object to manipulate.

Here is a link to some of my personal gists on github for these kinds of directives. Feel free to suggest improvements as well :).


Testing is made easy with Angular - Dependency injection paired with its mocking libraries make it easy and quick to write unit tests! Paired with googles amazing testing tool - Karma - you can’t go wrong!

Karma(Formerly Testactular)

Just check out Karmas website - this tool offers so much value, without much work. really all you do is write your tests, and Karma handles testing on multiple browsers, devices, and even makes Continuous integration a breeze! Check it out!


Yeoman, Grunt, Bower - the trio of front end development! I can’t imagine developing without these. Check them out!

Heroku makes getting a web application up and running for free as simple as it gets!

What I’ve learned

Angularjs paired with some amazing tools makes developing for the web fast, easy and reliable! Angularjs is a powerful framework with a somewhat steady learning curve; but once you have a good understanding of its fundamentals, you will be developing faster than you ever have before!

Look forward to my next article involving Phonegap and what it takes to develop angularjs for mobile applications!

Until next time - Lucas