AngularJS Best Practices: 5 Tips For Cleaner Code

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AngularJS has rapidly become one of the hottest new trends in development for creating powerful web or local applications on virtually any platform. While this extraordinary platform heralds itself as a MVW (Model-View-Whatever) framework – and is therefore suited for whatever your team or project requires – it can also be an overwhelmingly daunting foundation to build off of. To help alleviate any potential vertigo as you gaze down from the mountain of potential that is AngularJS, we’ve put together a handful of AngularJS best practices to keep your code clean and your mind (somewhat) sane.

Cultivate a Tidy Project Architecture

Perhaps the best place to begin with any development project, but even more so with AngularJS, is in the creation of a properly structured project. The configuration of project files, directories, and components plants the seeds of the entire life cycle of the project. Components that are illogically structured will make for a miserable development experience as new components must be added or code must be altered.

The challenge is that the sheer scope of the code base for even the most rudimentary AngularJS project can be overwhelming, to say the least. Therefore, it’s strongly recommended that you relieve yourself of a modicum of this burden by establishing and maintaining proper project architecture, particularly when your venture is just taking off.

A great place to start is to consider how the business logic of your project will be configured utilizing the primary building blocks of Angular. While some of these are designed specifically for Angular 2, they can be implemented within Angular 1 even, and generally represent the community-accepted method for structuring your project.

  • Modules: At the basic level, Angular modules are simply classes that use the @NgModule decorator and allow you to disperse your application into logical blocks of functionality.
  • Components: Similar to controllers in other popular MVC frameworks, components are used to create the user interface (i.e. views) within your application.
  • Templates: As with views in other MVCs, templates in Angular are altered forms of HTML that describe how the application renders the interface.
  • Metadata: Typically a short and sweet collection of data that precedes a class, which is used to explicitly inform Angular that the class definition which follows is a particular type of class, such as a component.
  • Data Binding: Angular allows for simple binding of data between the DOM and the underlying components. Depending on the syntax used within the templates, this binding can be one way from DOM to component, component to DOM, or simultaneously in both directions.
  • Directives: Markers attached to particular DOM elements which apply a specific behavior or transformation to the element.
  • Services: Perhaps the most generic part of an Angular application, a service is typically a class with well-defined, logical functionality, such as configuration, logging, or data management.
  • Dependency Injection: Finally, with a number of services powering your application, you can utilize an injector to inform a particular component about which services it requires to be functional.

Exploit a Task Runner

If you’re at all experienced with modern JavaScript application development, you’ve undoubtedly heard of (if not used) Grunt. For those unfamiliar, Grunt is a task runner, which essentially means it is a tool that will automate a number of menial tasks you would otherwise need to perform yourself on a fairly regular basis. Not only does the automation provided by a task runner like Grunt reduce your workflow requirement as a developer, but it also eliminates many unintentional mistakes that may be made by human hands.

Grunt is capable of many, many types of tasks (inherently or custom-designed), but a few of the common uses include:

  • Minification: To speed up browser load times, most web applications “minify” their combined JavaScript files, a task Grunt can handle automatically.
  • Live Reload: During development, can automatically reload your browser when changes are made to the code.
  • Best Practice Hints: Like the live reload function, when code is altered, Grunt will analyze and output any hints about potential changes to conform to JavaScript best practices.
  • SASS/LESS Compilation: Will automatically compile any CSS-style framework files into actual CSS.
  • THOUSANDS More: Grunt has a massive plugin directory that contains a plethora of potential tasks depending on your needs.

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