My new AngularJS workflow with gulp

September 30, 2014    workflow

NOTE: The workflow readme will be always a little more updated than this article.

Here is yet another angular boilerplate opinionated in how I work with Angular. I made it for myself but if you find that my opinions are good for you, feel free to use it and collaborate with issues or pull requests.

Let’s start with the app folder:

App folder

In the app folder you can find 3 subdirectories:

  • images: You can put there the images you need, nothing special here.
  • scss: There is a main.scss file there were you import all your other .scss files.
  • js: There is where you put your javascript code. It comes with a app.js file with the main app module created.

You can also find:

index.html: It is only the basic skeleton with the angular application loaded.

Structuring your Angular app in the js folder.

We split our application per features, so if we have an application to manage users, we can decide that a page to manage those users is a feature and also the settings page is another feature. Also we need some authentication services and stuff like that. That is not a feature of our app, but something common to the entire app. How can we organize that?

App structure

Looking at the image, we can see that apps folder where we put all our features. We create a subdirectory with the feature name and then inside a javascript file to code that feature and also a .tpl.html file for its template. the .tpl.html is my convention, you can change that in the gulpfile.js.

If a feature gets big enough, you can create multiple .js files, that is not a problem.

For common stuff, we created a common folder where we can put all our services and directives. Notice how I put the foo directive template inside the same folder.

The workflow won’t force you to use this structure, the only forced convention here is to put your templates under /js and not under /templates or something like that. Also the extension being *.tpl.html is needed (again, easy to change in the gulpfile.js). Leaving that aside, you’re free to code your app in the way you like.

appTemplates:     'app/js/**/*.tpl.html',

Testing your app

The only convention here is to name your tests like: *_spec.js. Leaving that aside, you can structure it the way you like.

You can do it per features like our main code or organize them per type (controllers, directives, etc.).

As a test runner we are using test'em, jasmine 2 as the framework of choice and Chrome to run the tests. You can change jasmine and Chrome in testem.json.

  "framework" : "jasmine2",
  "launch_in_dev" : ["Chrome"],
  "src_files" : [

Talking with the backend

Our angular app will run on the port 5000 and by default all the requests to the backend are going to use a proxy to the port 8080. How does that work?

Imagine you have a Rails backend (the workflow is backend agnostic) running on port 8080 and it serves some users information at /api/users. Since the Rails app runs on port 8080 and our Angular app runs on the port 5000 we would need to do something like:


And then activate CORS in our Rails app. That is not needed here, we can safely do:


Without any need of CORS. Thanks to our proxy, our Angular app will think that the backend is running in the same domain and port so if we deploy both application together (like putting our angular app into Rails' /public directory) we don’t need to change anything in our code.

gulp.task('webserver', ['scripts', 'styles', 'images', 'indexHtml'], function() {
      port: 5000,
      proxies: [
          source: '/api', target: 'http://localhost:8080/api'

There you change our app port and also the port where our backend is running. Also notice that the requests that goes through the proxy are the ones that starts with /api.

The gulp tasks

To run our tasks and watch for file changes, we just need to run:

$ gulp

That will generate a tmp folder with all our javascript files concatenated in one central place. That free us of having to create a <script> tag for every javascript we create. Also, our templates are going to be cached in $templateCache and also appended to the main app.js file.

Also that will compile our scss, move our images and index.html, run the webserver and watch for file changes.

All our javascript are going to be linted by jshint.

To run our tests, having that gulp watching our files for changes, we can do in another terminal:

$ gulp testem

That will fire test'em which will grab all our changes and re-run the tests.

Managing vendors

For now, all the vendors you need are pulled manually to /vendor. I am not a big fan of bower but I will consider it if there is any request.

Read more about it on the github page

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