Advantages of Angular in Web Development

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27 April 2023
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Angular is one of the most widely used frameworks for building amazing UIs. It can speed up the development process and save a lot of costs. Find out about its features, key advantages, and limitations.

Angular is a leading open-source front-end framework for developing web applications and one of the most popular software development tools in general. It’s commonly used for creating single-page applications (SPA).

Even though SPAs are Angular’s specialty, the platform’s capacity extends far beyond that. The framework can handle enterprise-scale applications, progressive web applications (PWAs), including desktop web applications, and, combined with other frameworks, like NativeScript or Ionic, it allows developers to build classy hybrid and mobile apps. Coupling Angular CLI with Electron, you can also build efficient cross-platform desktop applications.

If you know your ways with Angular, the sky is the limit. When handled with sufficient expertise, the framework significantly streamlines the development process, helps to trim the project’s costs, ensures scalability, and reduces vulnerability risks. Still, it has limitations you should be aware of. But before we get to that, let’s start from the beginning.

A brief history of the Angular framework

Angular was born in 2010 as AngularJS, a JavaScript framework developed by Google. The company maintained the framework until recently. In 2018, its phasing-out schedule was announced. AngularJS reached its end of life on December 31, 2022, with the last stable version released in April last year. The long-term support from the community also ceased.

Fortunately, the termination of AngularJS has little to do with the condition of Angular. Due to the name similarity, both frameworks are sometimes confused, but it’s been long since Angular went its own way, much different from its predecessor’s.

With the development of JavaScript standards, AngularJS started to lag behind the competition. Eventually, it hit the wall, unable to meet the demands of the growing mobile sector and large enterprise-scale projects. Google’s Angular team decided to rebuild the framework from the ground up to make it suitable for developing large cross-platform apps.

One of the key ideas was to rewrite it with TypeScript – a syntactical superset of JavaScript, created by Microsoft in 2012 to facilitate designing large applications. This goal corresponded with Google’s objectives. Due to the affinity between both languages, applications written in JavaScript code are also valid TypeScript programs, so there was no risk of conflicting standards.

In September 2016, Google rolled out Angular 2, rewritten from scratch with powerful libraries and only loosely resembling the JS version of the framework. The latter was doomed by then, even though many companies still used it. Since then, the company has put out twelve more stable Angular versions (the last one, 15.2.8, was released in April 2023), each bringing better builds, better performance, and stable APIs.

An interesting detail is that the number 3 was skipped in the enumeration due to a misalignment of the router’s package version, already distributed as version 3.3.0 with Angular 2. Irrespective of versioning, Angular is often called Angular 2 or Angular 2+ to mark its separateness from the original Angular 1 JavaScript-based edition.

How does it work? An overview of Angular’s architecture and building blocks

Angular is a framework for building client-side applications, which – unlike server-side rendering programs – execute in the browser on the client device. In broad strokes, Angular apps are written by:

  • composing HTML templates with Angular markup,
  • creating components for template management,
  • adding classes (services) with application logic,
  • packaging components and services into modules.

For a more detailed explanation of how Angular works, let’s make an overview of its key concepts and building blocks.

Modules

Modules are critical elements of the Angular application architecture. Essentially, they are a collection of related building blocks, such as components and services, grouped into cohesive units, each focused on a given feature, collection of utilities, or workflow.

In general, modules are a great way to structure an application and augment it with Angular features from external libraries. A typical Angular app is composed of multiple modules related to various functionalities and a must-have root module for bootstrapping. The Angular command line interface generates this basic unit, named as AppModule, when creating a new application.

Angular modules are called NgModules to avoid confusion with modules from other environments, such as TypeScript or JavaScript. Each Angular module is marked by an @NgModule decorator with metadata describing how it fits with other parts of the application. All Angular libraries are classified as NgModules, with many third-party libraries being available as NgModules, including Ionic and Material Design.

Components

Like many other frameworks, Angular heavily relies on components – self-contained, reusable units. Angular components consist of HTML, TypeScript code, CSS style sheet, and an associated name, and define views – sets of UI elements presented on-screen that are used and modified according to the program’s logic and data.

Similarly to root modules, every Angular application needs to have at least a root component, which links a component hierarchy to the document object model (DOM) of a web page, enabling the program’s interaction with a web document. The component class is identified by the @Component decorator, which provides the template and relevant component-specific metadata.

Templates and data binding

Templates are supersets of HTML that tell Angular how to render a given view. They use typical HMTL elements combined with Angular syntax, which modifies the HTML code based on the logic-focused directives, state of the application, and DOM data. Angular supports two-way data binding so that users can access and change the data via the user interface.

For a better user experience, Angular provides predefined pipes – convenient functions that transform input values, such as dates or currency, to output values displayed in a view that corresponds with a user’s locale.

Dependency injection

The dependency injection design pattern is closely related to the modular architecture of Angular applications. It allows classes with Angular decorators, such as components (@Components) or (@Pipes), to configure required dependencies.

With dependency injections, Angular developers can create and deliver selected parts of a program (so-called dependency provide) to other parts of the app (so-called dependency consumer). The interaction between a dependency provider and a dependency consumer is facilitated by an Angular injector – an object created for NgModules automatically during booting or inherited via the component hierarchy.

Dependency injection allows you to delegate tasks, such as fetching data from the server, logging into the console, or validating user input, to services. As a result, the component classes are kept lean and efficient.

Advantages of Angular

Angular is a great framework for different types of IT projects. Its quality is proven by a large number of companies using this platform to create user interfaces, with top brands including Google (obviously), HBO, Sony, Microsoft, UpWork, IBM, and PayPal. For many businesses, Angular is a preferred choice for web development, contributing to higher developer productivity and better business results. Here’s what Angular has to offer.

Made for single-page web applications

A single-page web application (SPA) is an app that loads only a single page and dynamically rewrites it with new data fetched from the server instead of loading entire new pages. SPAs have been all the rage in recent years due to their speed, UX benefits, and other strengths. Suffice to say, websites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all single-page applications.

Angular, alongside React, has long been a top choice for developing SPAs owing to such features as modularization, templates, pipes, two-way data binding, dependency injection, differential loading, as well as RESTful API and AJAX handling.

Simplified, faster development

Due to its component-based structure and modularity, Angular makes the development process easier and “cleaner.” Using Angular building blocks, developers can divide code into cohesive units, better organize functionalities, and reuse large chunks of code to speed up the overall process.

Angular’s architecture is based on the MVC (Model-View-Controller) pattern, which divides an app’s input, processing, and output (or the business logic from the graphic user interface), making the system easier to develop, scale, and maintain. MVC allows to develop controllers and views simultaneously, contributing to rapid development and faster time to market.

Modern UI, quality UX

Managed by Google (also one of key Angular advantages), the framework follows the guidelines of Material Design – Google’s design system for building eye-pleasing, usable digital products in line with the best practices of UI development. Angular allows you to stay up-to-date with recent design trends and give your app a modern look.

The framework comes with all sorts of pre-installed Angular elements, such as buttons, data tables, indicators, layout, navigation items, etc. Many more UI ready-mades are available via the Angular Material UI component library (available on the official Angular website). The framework also does a good job in the “smooth experience” department.

Since it’s used predominantly for building SPAs, Angular app users can enjoy speed and convenience. The framework also supports a function called lazy loading that allows controlling the load time of app components for a better user experience.

Large community, strong support, and a powerful ecosystem

Angular community is numerous and lively. The framework has been one of the front-end developers’ favorites for many years owing to its multiple advantages. So, if you want to join the game or find a solution to a unique problem, you can count on help. There are plenty of places to head for answers, including the go-to platform for developers StackOverflow, Dev.to, AngularAir, Angular In-Depth course, or Angular’s official website with tons of resources, including documentation, books, workshops, and online training.

Speaking of community and support, it’s hard to omit the fact that, as has already been mentioned, Angular is supervised by Google, which is a guarantee of quality and professional support. With so many different Angular versions released over the years, a powerful ecosystem has evolved around the framework.

Besides education resources, Angular offers a plethora of packages, libraries, plug-ins, UI environments, and other utilities, such as Angular Universal for server-side rendering, IDEs, analytic tools, and more.

Code consistency, easy testing, and maintainability

Angular simplifies things for developers in many ways, promoting consistent coding practices. Due to its well-organized structure and preconfigured environment, Angular code is relatively easy to test. Each unit can be tested separately throughout development, which facilitates quality control and increases the overall efficiency of the process.

This advantage of Angular extends to its maintainability. MVC architecture, modularity, and dependency injection make it easier to replace components with better implementations, which results in smoother updates and hassle-free maintenance.

Limitations of Angular

Angular excels on many levels, but it also has some weaknesses you should know about. Here are key issues to be aware of when considering this framework for your project.

Steep learning curve

Angular development is a seamless experience when you have the proper know-how. For new developers, the bar is set quite high. Even those experienced with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript will have to put effort into learning the framework before fully appreciating its potential and flexibility. Angular is a complete platform with lots of structures that require time to master.

Limited SEO options

Angular is not too friendly with search engine crawlers. This limitation is related to a broader problem of SPAs’ SEO issues. Typically, single-page applications are rendered on the client side, so search engine bots can’t see the entire structure and content of the website’s pages. As a result, the website may not be listed correctly in search engine results. This problem can be solved with dedicated libraries and techniques, but that’s an extra mile to go for the development team.

Large-size applications

Size matters and it can heavily influence a UX experience. Angular bundle size has been a widely discussed issue, because of its impact on the initial load time and page navigation. The problem has been addressed on several levels, and the framework has been making progress with each new version. For example, before Angular 9, it was only possible to lazy load modules, and now you can also lazy load components.

The size also shrank but remains bulky compared to that of React and several other frameworks. Still, there are ways to optimize Angular bundle size through methods like code splitting, tree-shaking, and using lightweight libraries or dependency analyzer tool.

Should you use Angular for your next project?

Angular is an outstanding platform for building top-notch user interfaces. It provides tons of tools for streamlining the development process and reducing costs. The framework’s modularity allows to split work across the team and perform tasks simultaneously, which contributes to faster time to market.

If you’re unsure whether Angular makes the best fit for your next project, we’re always available to serve you with expert advice.

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