Is Angular All that it Promises to be?

August 27, 2019 Keith Stewart

Here's What We Learned 

When it came to building ossum, our development team had an important decision to make regarding the framework we wanted to use. Ossum is a cloud-based development platform with the promise of an intuitive interface and seamless end-to-end developer experience. We needed to find the right toolkit to help us develop the ossum frontend to our specifications, and make sure our team could collaborate and get up to speed quickly. We have a large distributed team across many regions, so we needed a development framework that could be as versatile and adaptable as we are.

Like many other web developers, we eventually narrowed it down to two popular front-end frameworks - React.js or Angular.  While both have their advantages, such as React’s versatility and access to a plethora of community-driven libraries and Angular’s best practices and out-of-the-box functionality, we eventually decided to go with Angular for several important reasons.

Fundamentally, we believed it would help us build ossum to provide the easiest and most motivating user experience combined with all the powerful features Agile teams and developers need. We wanted a framework that would help us evolve ossum quickly based on user requirements. The majority of tools in our category are built on older or proprietary frameworks, or less flexible frameworks and can’t quickly react to changing user needs – ironic for DevOps. Also, older products in our category often have formal, stiff user interfaces. Angular enables us to have a fun and intuitive user interface as well as powerful capabilities that we can keep updated regularly and reliably.

Why Angular Worked for Us

So now back to the details behind our decision to build with Angular. The primary reason we opted to use Angular was due to its ease-of-use across distributed teams. Unlike React.js and how it may require multiple libraries to achieve all the necessary functionality of a modern application, Angular has almost all the tools you might need right out of the box. Through the Angular CLI, it is simple to get a project scaffolded and generate files for your component’s styles, tests, and functionality in a consistent manner across your entire team. This allows distributed teams to create a stylistically similar codebase without any headache.  In the same vein, Angular’s opinionated and deterministic file structure and well defined best practices unifies the whole team’s code, regardless of where they are located.

The opinionated nature of Angular also helped with recruiting team members for the ossum web development team. Because of the fact that many Angular projects are set up in a similar way and adhere to community best practice, new team members are able to get started and reach productivity quickly. Using the Angular framework saved us weeks of onboarding, which would otherwise be spent by the team familiarizing themselves with libraries.

Another key feature of Angular is the ease with which we can update our project dependencies from one version to the next. With the Angular CLI this is made easy. By executing a simple command your main package dependencies will be updated and in many cases your source code can be automatically updated to support any API changes that are needed. The ossum team recently used this to enable us to implement a major upgrade of Angular, and a number of other libraries, in less than a week. Without the Angular CLI, this manual process would have taken us hundreds of hours to complete. This helps us to get back to productivity faster, stay up to date with the latest innovations in the development industry, and minimize interruptions to projects.

While many other toolkits would have worked just fine for our purposes, we believe that Angular is the best web development software for distributed teams, due to its ease of use, simplicity, and its ability for everyone to stay up to date. Without Angular, the development of our application would have been much more confusing and stressful, with a lot more headache in trying to get everything working correctly. We hope our explanation of our journey in web development was helpful and can give you some ideas of what might work for you!

We also invite you to try for free and see the difference this framework makes.


About the Author

Keith Stewart

Keith Stewart is the Team Lead for ossum at CollabNet VersionOne. Before CollabNet VersionOne he was a Lead Technical Consultant with Huron Consulting Group leading teams in the implementation of large scale applications for research administration solutions. He is also a speaker at technical conferences and local Meetups and an open source author and contributor.

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