Angular 2 in the new world of web dev

Owen Roberts

February 04th, 2016

This week at Packt we’re all about Angular, and with the release of Angular 2 just on the horizon there’s no better time to be an Angular user. Our first book on Angular was Mastering Web Application Development with AngularJS back in 2013 and it’s amazing to see how much the JS landscape is a completely different place than what it was just 3 or 4 years ago.

How so? Well, Backbone was expected to lord over other frameworks as The Top Dog, while others like Ember and Knockout were carving their own respectable niches and fans. When Angular started to pick up steam it was seen as a breath of fresh air thanks to its simplicity and host of features. Compared to the more niche driven frameworks at the time the appeal of the Google lead powerhouse drove developers all over to give it a go, and managed to keep them hooked.

Of course web dev is a different world than it was in 2013. We’ve seen the growth of full-stack JS development, JS promises are starting to become more in use, components are the latest step in building web apps, and a host of new frameworks and libraries have burst onto the scene as older ones begin to fade into the background. Libraries like React and Polymer are fantastic alternatives to frameworks for developers who want to pick and choose the best stuff for their apps; while Ember has gone from strength to strength in the last few years with a diehard fanbase.

A different world means that rewriting Angular from the ground for 2.0 makes sense, but it’s not without its risks too. So, what does Angular need to avoid falling behind? Here are a few ideas (And hopes!)

Ease-of-use

One of Angular’s greatest strengths was how easy it was to use; not just in the actual coding, but also in integration. Angular has always had that bonus over the competition – one of the biggest reasons it became so popular was because so many other projects allowed for easy Angular integration. However, the other side of the coin was Angular’s equally difficult learning curve; before the book and tutorials found their way onto the market everyone was trying to find as much as they could about Angular in order to get the most out of the more complex or difficult parts of the framework. With 2.x being a complete rewrite every developer is back in the same place again, what the Angular team needs to ensure is that Angular is just as welcoming as its new competition - React, Ember, and even Polymer offer a host of ways to get into their development mindsets. Angular needs to do the same.

Debugging

Does anyone actually like debugging? My current attempts at Python usually grind to a halt when I reach the debugging phase and for a lot of developers there’s always that whisper of “Urgh” under their breath when they finally get around to bugs. Angular isn’t any different, and you can find a lot of articles and Stack Overflow questions all about debugging in Angular.

For what it’s worth Angular seem to have learnt from their experiences with 1.x. They’ve worked directly with the team at Rangle.io to create Batarangle, which is a Chrome plugin that checks Angular 2 apps. Only time will tell how well debugging in Angular will work for every developer, but this is the sort of thing that the Angular team need to give developers – work with other teams to build better tools that help developers breeze through the more difficult tasks.

The future devs vs the old

With the release of Angular 2 in the coming months we’re going to see React and Angular 2 fight for dominance as the defacto framework on the JS market. The rewrite of Angular is arguably the biggest weakness and strength that Angular 2 offers. For previous Angular 1.x users there are two routes you can go down:

  1. Take the jump to Angular 2 and learn everything again.
  2. Decide the clean slate is an opportunity to give React a try – maybe even stick with it.

What does Angular need to do to ensure after the release of 2 to get old users back on the Angular horse? A few of the writers that I’ve worked with in the past have talked about Angular as the Lego of the JS world – it’s simpler to pick up and everything fits snug together. There’s a great simplicity in building good looking Angular apps – the team needs to remind more jaded Angular 1.x fans that 2.x is the same Angular they love rebuilt for the new challenges of 2016 onwards. It’s still fun Lego, but shinier.

If you’re new to the framework and want to see why it’s become such a beloved framework then be sure to check out our Angular tech page; this page has all our best eBooks and videos, as well as the chance to preorder our upcoming Angular 2 titles to download the chapters as soon as they’re finished.

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