If you search for jobs in web development for long enough, you’ll soon notice that one of the names that keeps coming up again and again is AngularJS—both as a standalone specialization and also as a required skill for other jobs. Whether you want to build a career as a dedicated AngularJS pro or simply add it to your web developer’s toolkit, this article will tell you what you need to know to work with Angular.
AngularJS: What is it?
Why learn it?
So why is AngularJS so popular? And why might you want to learn it?
First, it’s amazingly powerful and yet (reasonably) beginner-friendly. It lets you create beautiful, efficient front-end experiences for your users without requiring much in the way of back-end knowledge.
Second, it’s open source and largely maintained by Google, which means you get the best of both worlds. The biggest name in tech has a vested interest in supporting it, but it’s also free to all and responsive to the needs of its community of developers.
Finally, if you’re looking to get into full-stack web development, it’s the front-end part of one of the most popular software stacks around: MEAN (no points for guessing which letter stands for “Angular”).
So what are some of the core skills and competencies for an AngularJS developer to learn?
Once you’ve got the basics of the language’s syntax down, and understand some of its common features and quirks, jumping into full-on Angular development will be a lot easier.
HTML and CSS
As we mentioned above, AngularJS is a front-end web development framework that works on the client side. That means that it does what it does by working with the HTML and CSS files that your server sends to your end user’s browser.
Obviously, then, it’s going to be crucial that you understand the basics of how HTML and CSS work…and then get good at them.
For a brief video intro to HTML and a companion series for CSS, check out the Dev Tips YouTube channel. These are fun, useful, and informative introductions to the basic technologies of front-end design.
For a more thorough grounding in HTML and CSS, you’ve literally got hundreds (if not thousands) of options to choose from online. But the tutorials at W3Schools, both for HTML and CSS, are thorough, come with examples and exercises that can be done in your browser, and, maybe best of all, are completely free.
This one’s kind of a “no-brainer”. If you’re going to work with this framework, you’ll need to learn it inside and out. Fortunately, there are some excellent free resources and even full courses online.
And if you’re willing and able to spend a little bit more money, online code school Udemy has a full AngularJS course available that comes with lots of projects to help you learn and practice your newfound skills. Added bonus? These sorts of projects are great for showing to potential employers as part of your developer’s portfolio.
MVC is a common pattern in software development. It stands for “Model-View-Controller”, which refers to how the code for a given application is organized. An MVC architecture allows for efficient, secure development.
MVC is used in AngularJS development, and while you’ll probably wind up actually doing it in your tutorials and projects, it’s a good idea to read up on best practices for MVC implementation in AngularJS as part of your course of study.
Most programmers agree that test-driven development is best. And whatever your overall philosophy, testing your code for robustness and integrity is both a crucial step in rolling out a web app and also a core skill if you want to work as a professional developer.
To learn more about the role of testing in AngularJS development, you can check out this short video on the topic.
And you may want to explore Karma and Jasmine, two of the most popular testing tools in the world of Angular development.
For a full introduction to how to use these technologies, check out this tutorial, which will take you all the way from setup to unit tests.
Once you’ve grasped the basics of front-end development in AngularJS, you may want to think about how to move your skills (and your career) to the next level.
Below are two possible avenues of study to help you on your way.
Other Front-End JS Frameworks
Well, first of all, as an AngularJS developer, you may be called upon to justify your company’s way of doing things to a client (“But my friend says his company uses React. Why don’t you guys use React?”). Or you might find yourself asked to take over a half-finished project that was first planned in another framework: which means that knowing how those frameworks actually work will make your life a lot easier.
But aside from practicalities, it’s also an excellent learning experience to see how another framework does the same thing as yours…but in a different way. It will give your knowledge of programming more depth and more perspective—and it may help you to better understand and articulate the advantages to doing things the way you do them in Angular.
Some of the more popular front-end JS frameworks are React (which can be explored via 5-minute intro or full video tutorial) and Ember (this short video tutorial is a good way to see if it’s of interest to you).
Back-End JS Frameworks and More
Although some people simply prefer front-end development to the full-stack world, there are obvious financial and career advantages to building out your knowledge of the stack so that you can write code from the server all the way to the client’s browser. And so although that takes us to the end of this article, if you’d like to learn more about what full-stack developers do, check out this post on our blog.