Friday, October 17, 2014

Angular.js: Using ngAnnotate inside Visual Studio

Last week I discovered a great NPM module; ‘ng-annotate’.It adds and removes AngularJS dependency injection annotations.

The great thing is that allows you to use implicit dependencies in Angular.js and ng-annotate will automatically make the switch to the Inline Array annotation.

This means that you write  the following code:

And that it gets rewritten automatically to:

The only problem is that I have to run ngAnnotate from the commandline. As a Visual Studio user, I would like to have an integrated solution. Let’s see how we get this done…

Integrate ngAnnotate into Visual Studio

To make integration possible, we’ll use some Visual Studio Extensions. So let’s install them first.

  • Start with installing(or upgrading) to the latest version of Web Essentials.
  • Also install node.js on your system.
  • Now it’s time to install Task Runner Explorer. This will allow you to run Grunt and Gulp tasks directly from within Visual Studio.
  • You can also install the Package Intellisense plugin. This is not required but makes it a little bit easier to use NPM from inside Visual Studio.

Now that we have all prerequisites installed, it’s time to get back to ng-annotate. There exists a ng-annotate plugin for both Grunt and Gulp. Which one you use depends on your own preferences but the process is similar. I will show you how to do it using Grunt. But first we have to install Grunt itself:

  • Open a command prompt and install the Grunt command line interface globally by using the following command:
    • npm install -g grunt-cli

Open your web project inside Visual Studio. It’s time to add some extra files:

  • Add a package.json file to the root of your web project. Also add a gruntfile.js file.


  • Inside the package.json, add the following content. In this case I also added a dependency to some other NPM packages to minify and uglify my code:
  • Right-click on the package.json file and choose NPM install packages. (If you don’t see this option, open a command prompt and do an npm install from the package.json location).


  • After the packages are installed, it’s time to create our gruntfile.js:


We finally arrived at the moment where we can run the Task Runner Explorer:

  • Right-click on the gruntfile.js in Visual Studio and choose Task Runner Explorer.


  • This will open up the Task Runner Explorer and show all available Grunt tasks.


  • Right click on the ngAnnotate task, choose Bindings and click on After build. Now each time we build the ngAnnotate task will automatically rewrite our Angular.js code to add the missing annotations.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In your blog, Using ngannotate with visual studio you mention this,

"Right-click on the package.json file and choose NPM install packages. (If you don’t see this option, open a command prompt and do an npm install from the package.json location)."

I am having this problem, and I believe you forgot to include the package name after npm install. Could you tell me the package name?