Angular is one of the most popular web development frameworks right now. It’s not only a go-to tool for client-side web application development, but also a great solution for mobile and desktop apps. When thinking about its success, it’s hard to believe that Angular was released only eleven months ago.

Written by:
Vitaly Plitchenko,
Market Research Specialist

 

Moreover, the platform is developing at an incredible speed. The Angular team at Google has so far stuck with its promise to release a major new version every six months, releasing Angular 4 in March and getting ready to put out Angular 5 in the middle of September.

Angular 5 – Is it worth jumping on the beta?

The rapid pace of development has not discouraged people from using Angular. In fact, it’s the other way around – there’s a constant stream of new developers looking to tinker with the newest beta. The number of people interested in learning Angular is growing by the minute.

As for those who’ve picked up Angular for commercial projects, they’re mostly sticking with Angular 4, the latest stable release, which still gets frequent updates. In fact the latest version, Angular 4.3.4, was released only a little more than a week ago.

Considering that beta software always has bugs and various problems, it’s a no-brainer that Angular 4 is the better option right now for a serious project. If you wish to jump into Angular and are looking for a stable release that will just work, Angular 4.3.4 is what you should look into.

Moreover, from now on, each major version of Angular will be fully backward compatible. This means you can start your project in Angular 4 and then upgrade to Angular 5 when it’s released if necessary. Keep in mind that upgrading to Angular 5 may require some minor tweaking and tuning, as various libraries and components should also be upgraded. You can avoid this by sticking with Angular 4, which is a totally valid option for smaller apps.

Angular 4 was the first major update to the Angular platform, and was met with a positive reception. It proved that development of the platform is moving in the right direction and that there are a lot of good things in store for Angular in the future.

Let’s take a closer look at what Angular 4 brought to the table and why Angular is the best web development framework on the market.

Solid update to an already solid framework

Angular 4 is the first major update to Angular 2 that introduced some breaking changes. It is, however, fully backward compatible, meaning you can update your Angular 2 project to work with Angular 4. This also means that all your experience working with Angular 2 won’t go to waste and can be applied to the new version of the framework.

When it comes to actual changes introduced in Angular 4, speed, size, and convenience were the focus of the release. The Angular team at Google worked hard to widen support for TypeScript, bring new features to the table, and make the core even smaller and faster.

Animations. Animations are no longer part of the Angular core, but rather are separated into an external package. This allows for a lighter and faster core since no extra code will be loaded if an application doesn’t use animations.

And if your software actually uses animations, all you have to do to enable them is import the animation package back into the core and you’re good to go.

View engine optimization. Beyond separating animations, Angular’s developers made some actual progress on view engine optimization, particularly in the way code is generated. Reportedly, the biggest savings come with more complex templates. This means that if you had a large app in Angular 2, you’ll get some impressive size reduction with Angular 4.

FESM. The code for Angular modules now comes packaged in EcmaScript format (so-called Flattened ES Modules, or FESM). This allows you to drastically reduce build time and bundle size, providing very noticeable performance gains.

Support for newer versions of TypeScript. TypeScript is probably the best thing that’s happened to the Angular project. It greatly extended the capabilities of the old AngularJS framework, allowing developers to go hard on the mobile and desktop side of things. Now, Angular 4 extends support for TypeScript to newer versions, namely 2.1 and 2.2. These new versions are faster and come with better type checking.

StrictNullChecks. The new version of TypeScript allows you to explicitly define certain types of variables as null or undefined.

Router ParamMap. Angular 4 introduced improvements to router parameter storage, making parameters available not only as a set of key-value objects but also as a map that you can query directly. This approach provides some advantages not only in terms of convenience but also security.

NgIf can now be used with else. Angular now supports if/else-style syntax for conditional binding. Situations when you need to formulate two identical but opposite conditions to cover a single case are long gone.

This change makes it easier and more intuitive to write code and also makes code cleaner and more readable.

Support for Angular Universal. Angular Universal is a nifty tool that allows you to render Angular applications directly on the server. This allows you to get rid of JavaScript and makes for easier search engine optimization.

Angular Universal started as a community project and has since been adopted by the Angular team. The majority of the Angular Universal code has been added to the Angular 4 core.

As mentioned above, since its release Angular 4 has seen several updates. These have mostly focused on bugfixes, but have also provided performance improvements and some new features such as the new HttpClient library for creating HTTP requests.

Why you should adopt Angular

When compared to the full rewrite for the previous version, Angular 2, the list of changes that Angular 4 provides doesn’t look as impressive. Nor should it, frankly speaking. Backward compatibility and building on top of the existing solid foundation are way more important than running head first into new features, allowing the framework to establish itself and build a solid user base.

AngularJS dominated the client-side JavaScript framework world for a long time, but now the new Angular provides a better feature set and better experience. The bottom line is that if you’re still not on board, you should be – and here’s why:

Consistent coding patterns – Angular does away with the concept of scope and instead uses its own hierarchy of components that includes ES classes and decorators. It features built-in dependency injection and uses the model-view/view-model (MVVM) pattern to clearly separate UI, data, and code. This pattern provides a consistent and predictable development experience that allows you to fully utilize common architectural patterns.

Full routing support – Angular provides support for fully featured routing, allowing you to define the route for each page of an application and seamlessly pass data between routes. This allows you to easily deal with problems of single-page applications such as search engine optimization and support for generic browser features such as the back button, history, and bookmarks.

Modularity – Angular removes components from the core and encases them in separate modules that can be linked back to the core as needed. This allows for a much lighter and faster core and makes sure that unnecessary code isn’t loaded.

Increased productivity – Angular makes developing easier and quicker. Support for TypeScript provides developers with static typing and interfaces. TypeScript is well-documented, features type checking, and allows for easier refactoring.

Great documentation – The Angular team has been diligent about providing great documentation for each new version of Angular. The official Angular blog also contains a lot of valuable information for those who want to learn Angular or simply follow its development. Beyond that, TypeScript is also well documented, and there’s a huge community of Angular and TypeScript developers out there producing guides and providing tips.

High level of security – Angular uses built-in methods, which is great for security purposes. Moreover, it uses built-in obfuscation when generating packages, which makes it very hard to reverse Angular applications. Security benefits that Angular provides are great for corporate clients willing to convert their on-premise solutions to single-page applications.

Frequent updates and backward compatibility – With Angular, you can be sure that all your experience working with the previous version will transfer to a new version once it’s released. Frequent updates with a focus on bugfixes and performance guarantee that the framework will rapidly get better and will keep developing for a long time.

No framework is without drawbacks

Despite all its advantages, Angular is by no means perfect. The biggest weakness of the platform is its lack of compatibility with AngularJS and regular JavaScript.

Angular provides a completely different user experience than AngularJS, and thus reusing regular JavaScript code in Angular can be very difficult. Moreover, not all JavaScript libraries are compatible with Angular. Many new Angular libraries are still in beta and thus are prone to bugs, and many older JavaScript libraries don’t have Angular-compatible alternatives. Therefore, it can be fairly difficult to port your AngularJS solution to Angular 4.

Beyond the major problem of support for old JavaScript, Angular doesn’t have that many global disadvantages, though it still has a lot of irritants here and there that may cause trouble for specific projects. One such example is the way Angular handles money.

Since data in Angular is stored in an exponential format, rounding errors are introduced that eventually add up. If your app deals with precise numbers, such as finances, such rounding errors can quickly wreak havoc on the precision of your data. This problem also exists in regular JavaScript, however. In order to deal with it, you need additional third-party components specifically designed for working with money.

The future of Angular

With its rapid development, high adoption rate, and backing by Google, it’s clear that Angular has a bright future. All its kinks will eventually be ironed out, and performance and stability will improve even further.

Angular 5.0 is looking to introduce faster core rendering and abstract methods and interfaces, further increasing performance. Beyond that, it’s also looking to add new features to the compiler, forms, and router, allowing for even faster and more convenient workflows.

However, if we look past Angular 5 and think about the future of the platform as a whole, the biggest change we wish for is better module visibility. As it stands now, each component you declare has a private scope and can be used only in the current module. This means that a component needs to be exported before it can be used in another module. Making modules fully global may not be feasible, as it may lead to conflicts, but streamlining the whole workflow would be a great boon to the ease of use and convenience of Angular.

Beyond the development of Angular, the development of TypeScript is also important. We expect the language to introduce more features similar to C# and Java, which will make it even better for server and mobile development. No doubt any future TypeScript changes will be incorporated into Angular as soon as possible.

Conclusion

As it stands, Angular is a great web development platform and should be one of your top choices when looking for a JavaScript framework. It’s an extremely fast and versatile tool that’s developing and gaining popularity quickly.

At Apriorit, we have extensive experience with web development and have worked on numerous AngularJS projects. We adopted Angular as soon as it came out and have already gained a lot of experience working with the framework. If you want to create a single-page application in Angular and you’re looking for a development team that knows their stuff, look no further.

Send us your request for proposal and we’ll get back to you and discuss your project.

 

 

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