AngularJS - Taylor Gehrls

What is AngularJS?


AngularJS is a JavaScript open-source front-end web application framework. It works by first reading the HTML page of a web application, and then interprets custom tag attributes as directives to bind input or output parts of the page to JavaScript variables. These variables can be set within the code or retrieved from JSON files [Pol].

Some weaknesses of AngularJS include inefficient error reporting and little direction for best practices. However, the flexibility of Angular can be seen as a weakness or a strong suit. AngularJS focuses on testability and code quality, setting it apart from other frameworks [Aus].

What to use AngularJS for?

It is used to better organize code, create responsive websites, work with jQuery more easily, and create dynamic websites.

Not Responsive: Web Browser sends URL request to the server, the web server responds with the web page and assets, the browser loads the entire web page using HTML & JavaScript. When user clicks on a link, a new request is sent and the server responds with the new web page and assets. Browser loads up entire web page again.

Responsive: Page refresh is almost unnoticeable. Instead of loading up the entire page when a user clicks a link, the server responds with JSON data. This data is loaded into the existing page [Pol].

<body ng-controller="HelloController">

Reasons to Use AngularJS:

  1. Most frameworks work by splitting the MVC (model-view-controller) into components and then requiring the developer to string them up together with code. AngularJS splits the application into MVC components and it does the rest.
  2. AngularJS uses HTML which is used to determine the execution of the application. Attributes of HTML determine which controllers to use for an element and determine what gets loaded, not how it is loaded. A developer just needs to define what the application should achieve and Angular takes care of the dependencies.
  3. Data models in Angular are more like cork boards, because it is a temporary storage area to place and retrieve data. They are called scopes in AngularJS and are automatically bound to the view by Angular. This means that AngularJS watches for changes in the properties and updates the front-end automatically. Scope has no data initially and relies on the controllers to feed data.
  4. Filters can filter the data before they are displayed on the view. This can involve things like formatting decimal places or reversing the order of an array [Lau].

AngularJS is perfect for database CRUD (create, read, update, delete) applications. AngularJS applications consist of the View (HTML), the Model (data available for current view), and the Controller (which is the JavaScript function that controls the data) [Ang].


In 2009, AngularJS was created as a side-project by two developers at Google, Misko Hevery and Adam Abrons. Originally, it was meant to be a tool to allow developers to interact with both the front-end and back-end. While at Google, Hevery bet his manager that he could re-write his 17,000 lines of project code in 2 weeks with his side project (AngularJS). It actually ended up taking him 3 weeks, but he condensed it down to just 1,500 lines of code. After this, the development of AngularJS took off. The top 10 contributors to the framework are all from Google, and Google has been the main drive behind its development [Aus].

In late 2016, Angular 2 was released. Some differences between the two are that Angular 2 does not use controllers and $scope and instead uses components. Components are controllers and directives with a specific template. The specification for directives has also been simplified. Dependency Injection is also available, which creates more opportunities for object-based work and faster performance. Angular 2 can also be used with TypeScript [Mul].

AngularJS Components


Directive - a directive is a marker on a HTML tag that tells Angular to run or reference JavaScript code.

  • ng-app defines an AngularJS application <div ng-app="angularjsApp"/>
  • ng-model binds the value of HTML controls (input, select, text-area) to the application data
  • ng-init initializes AngularJS application variables
  • ng-bind binds application data to the HTML view.

Angular has built-in directives that trigger certain behavior when a certain value is true. For example, the following code would show a certain variable if the canShow expression is true.

<div ng-show="variable.canShow"/>

For not showing certain data, ng-hide can be used.


Module - where pieces of an application are written. Modules make it more maintainable, testable, and readable. Modules define applications and act as containers for different parts of an application. Modules are containers for application controllers and controllers must belong to a module. It is common to put the module and controllers in JavaScript files. Global functions are avoided in JavaScript as they can be easily overwritten or destroyed by other scripts. AngularJS reduces this problem by keeping functions local to the module [Ang].

var app = angular.module("angularjsApp", []);


Expression - expressions allow the insertion of dynamic values into HTML [Pol]. Expressions are written inside double braces and AngularJS will output data exactly where the expression is written. AngularJS expressions bind data to HTML the same way as the ng-bind directive. Expressions can contain literals, operators, and variables, but do not support conditionals, loops, and exceptions whereas JavaScript expressions do [Ang].

<p>An example of an expression: {{ price * amount }}</p>


Controller - controllers help to show data on the web page. Controllers are where the application's behavior is defined by defining functions and values. AngularJS controllers are regular JavaScript objects created by a standard JavaScript object constructor and control the application. The ng-controller directive defines the application controller. Controllers can be invoked with a $scope object. The $scope is the application object, or owner of application variables and functions. Scope is the binding part between the HTML (view) and the JavaScript controllers. When adding properties to the $scope object in the controller, the view gets access to these properties [Ang].

      var app = angular.module('school',[]);
      app.controller('SchoolController', function(){
              this.classes = classes;

      var classes = [
    name: 'Math',
    number: 236,
    room: 'Carver 340',
    name: 'Chemistry',
    number: 110,
    room: 'Carver 226',
    name: 'Philosophy',
    number: 319,
    room: 'Mary Berry 11',
<div ng-controller="SchoolController as school">
        <h1 ng-repeat="name in school.classes">name</h1>

Two-Way Data Binding

Two-Way Data Binding - expressions are re-evaluated when a property changes on the page. With the AngularJS, you can bind the value of an input field to a variable that is created. The binding is called two-way binding, because it goes both ways. If the user changes the value inside the input field, the AngularJS property value also changes.

The ng-model directive can provide data validation for things like number, e-mail, and required fields. The ng-model directive can also provide different statuses for application data. For example, a control may return true for untouched if it has not lost focus, it could returned true for touched it has lost focus, it could return true for pristine if the user has not interacted with the control yet, and it could return true for dirty if the user already interacted with the control. Pristine and dirty signify whether the user actually changed anything while touched and untouched signify if the user has been to that control [Roz].


Filters are a neat aspect of AngularJS that can be added to format data. Some filters include, currency, data, filter, JSON, limitTo, lowercase, number, orderBy, and uppercase. They are added to expressions using the pipe character, followed by the desired filter. They can also be added to directives in the same way. The filter called filter selects a subset of an array containing only matching items [Ang].

<h1>Price: {{ price | currency }}</h1>



The image above uses AngularJS to create a pizza ordering application. The customer is able to select crust type, sauce, cheese, meat, and veggies, and order their pizza.


The first image above shows how to set up the HTML for the application. The ng-app directive is used to define the application and this is connected to the application module in the JavaScript file depicted in the second image. The first image also shows how to link AngularJS into an HTML file.


The first image above shows how to use a tab controller so certain tabs will be active when they are clicked. It then uses the ng-click directive to set the tab to a certain value when it is clicked and creates a reference to that tab. The second image shows what the tabController looks like in the JavaScript file. First, it sets the default value to 1, so the first tab is selected when the page is loaded. Next it has a function to set the tab value to a new value. Finally, it has a function to check the value of the selected tab and return its value.


The first image above shows the div that will show if the tab value is equal to 5. Then there are controllers to handle showing the different types of veggies and the toggling that occurs when they are selected. In the second image, the veggieController sets the veggie variable to the list of veggies in the third image. The veggieSelectionController toggles between selected and not selected veggies.


As with any new technology, working with AngularJS was a little difficult to get the hang of at first. The documentation is a little confusing great and it is difficult to know multiple ways of achieving slightly different outcomes. However, the ways in which it interacts with HTML is very useful and gives the developer the ability to do some cool dynamic things on their website. The two-way data binding would be helpful to have pages automatically update when the variables change. While it might be difficult for those with already established applications to switch over to the JavaScript framework, it would be a good tool for those starting out creating web applications. However, there might need to be time reworking applications if there are more updates to the popular framework. AngularJS is good for knowing what the structure of the application should be, but it it is a little difficult to pick up on all of the concepts quickly. Although testing was not covered in this summary of AngularJS, it is meant to be tested fairly easy, which would be a plus.

Written by Taylor Gehrls


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