Is AngularJS just for single-page applications (SPAs)?

Is AngularJS just for single-page applications (SPAs)?

We are looking at options to build the front end of an application we are creating and are trying to evaluate a tool that will work for us and give us the best platform to move forward.
This is a Node.js project. Our initial plan was to use Express and go down that route, but we decided that before we kick off this stage it might be best to review what is out there. Our application has several areas which we don’t believe fit the single-page model in that they are related from an application perspective, but not from a view one.
We have seen a few of the frameworks we could use to build out the client like Backbone.js, Meteor, etc. and also AngularJS.
This may be a fairly obvious question, but we cannot seem to decipher if AngularJS is purely for single-page application or it can be used for multi-page applications like Express for instance.

UPDATE 17 July 2013
Just to keep people in the loop, I will be updating this question as we go through the process. We are going to build everything together for now, and we will see how well that performs. We have reached out to a few people who are more qualified with AngularJS than us and posed the question regarding splitting up larger applications that share context, but may be too large working on a single page.
The consensus was that we could serve multiple static pages and create AngularJS applications that work with only those pages, effectively creating a collection of SPA and linking those applications together using standard linking. Now our use case is very specific as our solution has several applications, and as I said we are going to try the single code base first and optimise from there.
UPDATE 18 June 2016 The project fell of a cliff, so we never got round to getting too much done. We have picked it up again recently, but are no longer using angular and are using React instead. We are still using the architecture outlined in the previous update, where we use express and self contain apps, so for example, we have a /chat route in express that serves up our React chat app, we have another route /projects that serves up the projects app and so on. The way we are kinda looking at it is each app is an aggregate root in terms of its feature set, it needs to be able to standalone for it to be considered an app in itself. Technically, all the information is out there, its just basic express and whatever flavour of client side app building goodness you want to use.

Related:  JavaScript String concatenation behavior with null or undefined values

Solutions/Answers:

Solution 1:

Not at all. You can use Angular to build a variety of apps. Client-side routing is just a small piece of that.

You have a large list of features that will benefit you outside of client-side routing:

  • two-way binding
  • templating
  • currency formatting
  • pluralization
  • reusable controls
  • RESTful api handling
  • AJAX handling
  • modularization
  • dependency injection

It’s crazy to think that all of that “could only be used in a single page app”. Of course not.. that’s like saying “Jquery is only for projects with animations”.

If it fits your project, use it.

Solution 2:

I struggled with the “how” at first with Angular as well. Then one day it dawned on me: “It is STILL javascript”. There are a bunch of examples on the ins-and-outs of Angular (one of my favorites along with the book https://github.com/angular-app/angular-app). The biggest thing to remember is to load in the js files just like you would in any other project. All you have to do is make sure the different pages reference the correct Angular object (controller, view, etc.) and you are off and running. I hope this makes sense, but the answer was so simple I overlooked it.

Related:  Why are my component bindings undefined in its controller?

Solution 3:

Maybe my experience will be useful to someone. We split our project logically. One SPA we use for feed, another one to work with the map, another one for editing a user profile and etc. For example we have three apps: feed, user and map. I use it in the separated urls, like this:

https://host/feed/#/top/
https://host/user/#/edit/1/
https://host/map/favorites/#/add/

Each of these applications has it’s own local routing mappings between states in the application.
I think it is a good practice because each application work only with its own context and load dependencies that it really need. Also, it’s practice very good for debug and integration processes.

Indeed, you can very easily make a mix of SPA apps, for example the feed will be url with the angularjs application, the user app with the reactjs and map to the backbone.js application.

In response to your question:

Angular not just for SPAs, Angular play good and fast for SPA applications, but no one bothers to build MPA application of a variety of SPA applications. But thinking about your url architecture don`t forget about SEO availability of your applications.

I also support the idea:

What’s the difference between a project and an app? An app is a Web
application that does something – e.g., a Weblog system, a database of
public records or a simple poll app. A project is a collection of
configuration and apps for a particular website. A project can contain
multiple apps. An app can be in multiple projects.

Solution 4:

If all you need is a few pages with client databinding, I’d go with Knockout and Javascript Namespacing.

Related:  The canplay/canplaythrough events for an HTML5 video are not called on Firefox. Why?

Knockout is great, especially if you need uncomplicated backward compatibility and have fairly straight forward pages. If you’re using 3rd party components, Knockout’s custom bindings are straightforward and easy to work with.

Javascript namespacing allows you to keep your code separate and manageable.

var myCo = myCo || {};
myCo.page = {
    init: function(){ ... },
    ...
}

And in a script tag after your other scripts are loaded

<script>
    myCo.init();
</script>

The key is, you use whatever tool you want for when you need it. Need databinding? Knockout (or whatever you like). Need routing? sammy.js (or whatever you like).

Client code can be as simple or complicated as you want it. I tried integrating Angular into a very complicated site with an existing proprietary framework, and it was a nightmare. Angular is great if you’re starting fresh, but it has a learning curve and locks you into a very tight workflow. If you don’t follow it, your code can get really tangled really fast.

Solution 5:

I’d say Angular is overkill if you’re just looking to develop a SPA. Sure, if you’re already comfortable developing with it, go ahead. But if you’re new to the framework and only need to develop a SPA, I’d go with something more simple with a number of its own perks. I recommend looking into Vue.js or Aurelia.io.

Vue.js uses two-way data binding, MVVM, reusable components, simple and quick to pickup, less code to write, etc. It combines some of the best features of Angular and React.

Aurelia.io, in all honesty, I don’t know much about. But I’ve peeked around and it seems an alternative worth looking into, similar to the above.

Links:
https://vuejs.org/
http://aurelia.io/