By Yakov Fain

New York City residents often say “It’s going to be a nice city when all the construction is finished”. The same applies to Angular 2 framework, which remains in Alpha (the latest build is 42 at the time of this writing). It has a potential to become a great framework in 2016, when the API will be stabilized and documented.

Writing code in Angular 2 is a lot simpler than in AngularJS, especially if you use TypeScript (see my blog on why you should try writing in TypeScript here). But getting started with a new project is more complicated and requires a careful selection of tooling. In addition to a typical JavaScript project, you need to take care of transpiling TypeScript and loading modules – neither of these steps can be done natively by the browsers. Hence you need introduce tooling into your develop-deploy process.

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog that included a scary list of tools that today’s JavaScript developers might use. In an effort to minimize the number of required tool we settled on npm (for both installing packages and build scripts) and JSPM (a package manager that comes with the module loader SystemJS that comes with TypeScript transpiler). These are the steps that should be done before you start writing your Angular 2 app in TypeScript:

In the command window run the following npm command (install Node.js runtime if you don’t have npm):

1. Install JSPM globally on your computer (-g means global). It comes with SystemJS:

npm install jspm -g

2. Create a folder for your project, go there and ask jspm to generate all required configuration files:

jspm init

This command will ask you 8 question regarding the required configuration. Accept the defaults for the first 7 questions, but for the question about transpiler, enter typescript. After running this command in your folder you’ll find the new files config.js and package.json as well as the subfolder jspm_packages.

3. Install Angular 2 in your project folder and all required dependencies:

jspm install angular2 core-js css reflect-metadata

This command will download all of the above libraries inside the folder jspm_packages and will modify the content of the file config.js

4. Install an http server that will be serving your app to the browser:

npm install http-server -g

5. Create the file index.html with the following content:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
 <head>
  <script src="//cdn.rawgit.com/systemjs/systemjs/0.19.4/dist/system.js"></script>
  <script src="//code.angularjs.org/2.0.0-alpha.40/angular2.js"></script>
  <script>
   System.config({
    transpiler: 'typescript',
    map: {typescript: '//cdn.rawgit.com/Microsoft/TypeScript/v1.6.2/lib/typescript.js'}
});
 
   System.import('main.ts');
  </script>
 </head>
  
 <body>
   <hello-world></hello-world>
 </body>
</html>

This code loads SystemJS and Angular (I used the build Alpha 40) and tells SystemJS to load the TypeScript 1.6.2 compiler from CDN, and load the file main.ts , which is shown next.

6. The Typescript file main.ts is your entry point to the application. It can import other files, but this would be a subject for a separate blog post. This is what you should enter in main.ts:

import {Component, bootstrap} from 'angular2/angular2';
 
@Component({
  selector: 'hello-world',
  template: `
<h1>Hello {{ name }}!</h1>

`
})
class HelloWorldComponent {
  name: string;
 
  constructor() {
   this.name = 'Angular 2';
  }
}
 
bootstrap(HelloWorldComponent);

The @Component annotation is all you need to turn a class into a component. The selector property defines a name of the tag that represents this component in the HTML file. The template property defines the HTML to render. In this example the value of the variable name will be evaluated and inserted in the greeting using Angular binding.

7. Start your http server by entering http-server in the command line from your project directory and enter http://localhost:8080 in your Web browser you should see a Web page that reads Hello Angular 2! Here’s how it’s rendered in my Chrome browser with Developer Tools panel open:

HelloAngular2
As you see the The TypeScript compiler was downloaded as a part of your application and the transpiling of the code was done on the fly.

In this simple example I didn’t install any TypeScript related tool to keep this example IDE-agnostic. But we do use IDEs and an additional install of the tsd (type definition manager) and DefinitelyTyped library would be required as well so the context-sensitive help for your code and all third-party JavaScript libraries would be available.

I like the fact that JSPM and SystemJS are written by the same developer (Guy Bedford). With these tools the configuration process is automated, modules of different formats are seemlesly loaded, TypeScript is automatically transpiled, duplicate dependencies are not being loaded, and we can can get dependencies from multiple repositories. All this comes at a price of a couple of seconds delay before you see your page loaded in a browser.

JavaScript developers are spoiled by seeing their latest code changes deployed and rendered instantaneously. Coming out of a Java project that required minutes to see my code changes in action, I can live with these extra couple seconds. But opening the configuration files auto-generated by JSPM still gives me light goose bumps. There is too much stuff in there. Again, that Java project had Maven build scripts with thousands lines of code, so I can live (for now) with 300 lines in config.js in a Hello World project, but the search of the configuration holly grail continues…

Manning opened the MEAP program for our upcoming book “Angular 2 Development with TypeScript”, where JSPM, SystemJS and TypeScript are covered in greater details.

Starting an Angular 2 Project with TypeScript and JSPM

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