Monday, October 27, 2014

ng-europe, Angular 1.3, and beyond

Last week we presented at ng-europe in Paris on the past, present, and future of Angular. In this blog post, we'll recap the main points and announcements.

Angular 1.3

We've just shipped AngularJS 1.3 -- the best Angular yet. With it, you get many features and improvements not found in AngularJS 1.2. Though there are many we focused on:

  • Performance. With many operations like DOM manipulation and digest 3-4x faster, you automatically get snappier apps. 
  • Forms. Simpler and more capable APIs let you write less code and better match user expectations when validating forms
  • ARIA support. With ngAria, you're given a big leg up on adding and removing the correct ARIA attributes to support assistive software like screen readers. 
  • Material Design. We're nearly fully functional on implementing Google's specification for user interface design and interaction. Find it now at material.angularjs.org.

If you are building web applications today, this is the version you should use. This is the tried and true version that we really believe in. With over 1600 apps at Google built with Angular 1.x, we are committed to supporting it as the first class AngularJS version for a long time to come.

One thing that is changing, however, is our support for new features and breaking changes in Angular 1.x. With a few exceptions, these will be deferred to 2.0, and will be better addressed with the new design. We'll still be reviewing PRs and responding to issues but our focus with 1.x will be on stability, security, performance, rather than features.

If you are using Angular 1.2, please check out the migration instructions to find out more about how to transition your code to 1.3.

From 1.3 to 2.0: Angular's Next Step

In the keynotes of ng-conf in January we first mentioned our plans to build Angular 2. In the last few months since then we've been brainstorming what the next evolutionary step will be for Angular. In March, we published our thoughts in design documents. We read your feedback to make sure we understood the types of things you do or wanted to do with Angular. Then we explored different approaches, built prototypes and benchmarks, and iterated on our designs to find the best one we could.

Last week at ng-europe, we presented a look at our vision for Angular 2.0 that resulted from this research and prototyping. In 2.0, you'll find the things that make Angular truly Angular (like DI, HTML-based templating, directives, and testability baked-in). But you'll also find a number of design changes aimed at adapting Angular to the recent tectonic shifts in the web platform (web components, module system, etc.), and making Angular significantly faster and easier to use in ways we couldn't achieve in incremental steps from 1.x.

Specifically:

  • A unified component model that encompases "controllers" and "templates" in Angular 1.x. This means fewer concepts, less boilerplate, and better reusability. 
  • A revised concept of "scope" that makes nested contexts simple to understand, and improves the division of responsibilities between components of your app. 
  • Modular, mobile-first design that also scales to needs of enterprise-grade desktop apps - With over 50% of the world's population yet to connect to internet mainly via mobile, not desktop, and we want to make it easy to develop directly for these users. However desktop web apps remain important, especially in the enterprise space. 
  • Support for Web Components out of the box. Many assumptions we made about the web platform in 1.x are no longer valid, and Angular will change to accommodate these. 
  • Built on top of ES6, with easy transpilation to ES5. This means that you can start writing for tomorrow's JavaScript in today's browsers. Or you can write Angular 2 apps with ES5 just like you do today. It's totally up to you. 
  • We're introducing AtScript, an extension of TypeScript syntax and ES6 that adds optional runtime types and annotations to help large teams build large apps and better document them. Just like ES6, you're not required to use AtScript for building your applications; it's just another tool in your utility belt. 
  • Angular won't rely on jqLite or DOM wrappers in general. The DOM has significantly improved since 2009 and AngularJS doesn't need wrappers any more. In fact, removing them will give us a performance boost. You are still free to use jQuery or other DOM libraries in your directives as you wish.

Many of these ideas come from long discussions we had with Angular developers. Thanks again to everyone who weighed in on these documents! With a stable and performance-focused AngularJS 1.3 out in the world link to blog, we're now turning our attention to building Angular 2.0.

What does this mean for me?

The Angular community is what makes Angular awesome. We're sharing our plans for 2.0 early so that you can be part of the discussion as we move from concept to real code. We want your input and we're excited to hear what you think. For now the best way to do this is by filing issues on GitHub, or reaching out to us on Twitter (Brad, Igor, Brian, Jeff) or Google+, coming to our meetups and following and commenting on our meeting notes.

When can I use Angular 2.0?

If you're interested in Angular 2.0 in its current experimental state, you can follow along on GitHub and through our meeting notes. It's too soon to start building anything with 2.0 code -- we're still in the very early stages of building out the project. In the coming months you should be able to see the pieces falling into place. We're not announcing a release date because we honestly don't know yet, but we're working hard at delivering an early version very soon.

How can I learn more about Angular 2.0?

It's still very early, but watching the videos from ng-europe (when they are available) is the best way to get started. Specifically the keynotes from both days and the session on Angular 2 Core.

If you have more time and want to dig deeper, then check out all the design docs and research we put together and iterated on with the Angular community already.

For people that seek truth in code, there are first bits of code on GitHub in the angular/angular repo. There is lots more to come in the upcoming months!

And lastly you can check out some resources published by our partners, for example a TypeScript blog post that mentions "alignment with ES6" and Angular 2.0, Traceur, EcmaScript 6 and Web Components

What about Migrating from 1.3 to 2.0?

Our goal with Angular 2 is to make the best possible set of tools for building web apps not constrained by maintaining backwards compatibility with existing APIs. Once we have an initial version of Angular 2, we'll start to work on a migration path for Angular 1 apps.

We know that you have invested a lot of time learning how to build web apps with Angular. Since we are preserving most of the core concepts, this knowledge will help you be proficient in Angular 2 much faster.

What's next?

ng-europe was an amazing event for the whole Angular community. We definitely had a blast and are all energized and inspired by presentations, demos, but most importantly by all the informal hallway conversations we had there. Now is the time to start to make the ideas we showed more real and we invite you to be part of it. While 2.0 is under construction, we encourage you to build awesome apps that you want to be proud of with Angular 1.3.

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