Over the last year I spent a substantial portion of my time writing a book “Angular 2 Development with TypeScript”. I wrote it with my colleague, Anton Moiseev. We are already working on real-world projects in Angular 2 for our software product SureLC that automates the work of insurance agents. We also taught multiple public and private Angular 2 workshops.
This morning after reading yet another post titled “How to learn Angular 2?”, I’ve asked myself, “Do I know Angular 2?”. The honest answer is “Kinda”. Let me explain.
First, let’s define what a developer needs to know to be productive in an Angular 2 project. I’ll color the items as the slopes marked in the ski resorts.
Green – easy Almost flat
Blue – moderate. Can get nasty is the snow is not groomed
Red – difficult, but manageable for non-experts. The slopes are steeper than blue
Black – really difficult. You have to be an expert to enjoy the ride.
Disclaimer. I can ski on black slopes, but I don’t enjoy the process. You won’t enjoy watching me going down the black slope, but I’ll arrive to the base.
1. TypeScript. Yes, you can use other languages, but let’s get real. The framework is written in TypeScript, 90% of blog post and tutorials use TypeScript.
4. A module loader. Starting from EcmaScript 6 we think in modules, and it’s a good thing. Adding and maintaining multiple scrip tags for dependencies? No more. You’ll start with SystemJS and then most likely will switch to Webpack.
5. Unit testing framework. Go with Jasmine.
6. Test runner that allows to run unit tests against multiple browsers from a command line. Use Karma runner.
7. Module bundler. You need to bundle your app into a small number of files so the browser won’t make several hundreds of network requests to load Angular modules. We use Webpack.
8. Task runner. Don’t even think of starting writing the app before setting up your build automation process. Start with using npm scripts. If you’ll run into any limitations, add some Gulp scripts.
9. Angular Router. This piece has been completely rewritten three times over the last year. It’s turning into a really powerful component.
10. Dependency Injection. Works really well and is stable.
11. Forms API. It’s still changing, but is getting there.
12. Inter-component communications. It’s important to architect your applications properly so components communicate in a loosely coupled way.
13. Reactive extensions RxJS. For async communications Angular 2 uses Observables and Subscribers instead of Promises.
14. The Http module. Responsible for communication with Http servers
15. Change detection (Zone.js). This piece monitors all async changes in your components and updates the view. For most apps you don’t need to worry about it, but if you’ll need to optimize the performance of your app, plan to invest some serious efforts to learn it.
16. UI components. Angular Material 2 is in its infancy with only 15 available components. If you need to deploy your app in prod this year, go with Wijmo 5 or PrimeNG
17. Angular CLI. This tool is in its infancy as well. It allows to quickly generate the project components and create the build. It starts with downloading the entire Internet to your computer and then generates stuff. My position is wait and see.
18. IDE. I saved this item for the happy ending. The IDEs used for TypeScript and Angular 2 are almost as good as their peers in Java or C# world. We use WebStorm, but Visual Studio Code is also great.
It took me a while to get comfortable with all the items from this list. I don’t know everything, but I know where to look for a solution. The Angular documentation is sparse and lots of APIs are not documented yet. There are multiple blogs that help with solving specific tasks, but most of the blogs become outdated because Angular 2 is still changing. In particular, the introduction of @NgModule in RC.5 forces me to refactor lots of code.
In the Summer of 2015 Angular 2 was in Alpha, the API was changing weekly, but I didn’t complain: I was an early adopter. The problem is that it’s Summer of 2016, but as of Release Candidate 5 the API is still changing and I remain an early adopter.
This list may look intimidating, but if you’ll invest enough time the results will be rewarding. I believe in 2017 Angular will become the most popular framework for developing of the front end of the medium and large web apps.
If you’re interested in learning Angular 2 in depth, enroll into one of our workshops. We’ll run the next public training online starting from September 11, 2016. I can also deliver this workshop privately for your organization (send an email to email@example.com).