Angular 2 : Getting off the Starting Line


The Angular team created a quickstart repo over at which is a great starter project template for basically a "Hello World" application.

It provides:

  • lite-server, which is a demo or local/development only server
  • basic tests using karma
  • typescript dependencies (tsconfig, typings)

Getting started is included in the README, but it's simple

# clone the repo
git clone <your app name>

# change directory to your app name
cd <your app name>

# delete the .git file to remove the binding from the angular repo
rm -rf .git  

Now the code is set for you to create your own repo, git init, commit etc.

Running the quickstart

First make sure all of the npm packages are good.

npm install  

then The npm start command first compiles the application, then simultaneously re-compiles and runs the lite-server. Both the compiler and the server watch for file changes. To stop manually, use Ctrl-C.

This gets you to the starting line. But what the quickstart doesn't have is a build process or a production server that handles, deep linking or static file serving. That's where ng2-startingline comes in. Let's add the needed pieces.

Express.js as the server

node.js, with Express performs very well, scales and would be hard to argue its uptake in the tech world for use in this case.

There are a couple of things we need to accomplish with the node/express server.

  • if the request has a '.', assume it's a file and try to serve it
  • if the request has an 'accept' header of html, xml, or json serve it.
  • otherwise assume its a route in the SPA and send it along to Angular.

Here's the simple server code:


    "name": "ng2-startingline",
    "version": "1.0.0",
    "dependencies": {
        "express": "4.13.4"


var express = require('express'),  
    path = require('path'),
    fs = require('fs');

var app = express();  
var staticRoot = __dirname + '/';

app.set('port', (process.env.PORT || 3000));


app.use(function(req, res, next){

    // if the request is not html then move along
    var accept = req.accepts('html', 'json', 'xml');
    if(accept !== 'html'){
        return next();

    // if the request has a '.' assume that it's for a file, move along
    var ext = path.extname(req.path);
    if (ext !== ''){
        return next();

    fs.createReadStream(staticRoot + 'index.html').pipe(res);


app.listen(app.get('port'), function() {  
    console.log('app running on port', app.get('port'));

Add these 2 files, package.json, index.json in a folder called server in the root of your project.

Adding the build process

Next, a build process using gulp will be added to the project. The purpose here is to:
* create a /build folder for the destination of our production code * select and move the specific application javascript dependencies from node_modules to a /lib folder withing /build * move the application files, index.html and compiled *.js files to the /build folder * include the server

Add the gulp devDependencies to the package.json file in the root of the project.

    "gulp" : "3.9.1",
    "gulp-sourcemaps": "2.0.0-alpha",
    "del" : "2.2.0"

and npm install. Next, add a the gulpfile.js in the root of the project.


"use strict";
var gulp = require("gulp");  
var del = require("del");  
var sourcemaps = require('gulp-sourcemaps');

 * Remove build directory.
gulp.task('clean', function (cb) {  
    return del(["build"], cb);

 * Copy all resources that are not TypeScript files into build directory.
gulp.task("resources", ["server", "app", "assets"], function () {  
    console.log("Building resources...");
/* copy the app core files to the build folder */
gulp.task("app", ['index'], function(){  
    return gulp.src(["app/**", "!app/**/*.ts"])
/* get the index file to the root of the build */
gulp.task("index", function(){  
    return gulp.src(["index.html"])
/* copy node server to build folder */
gulp.task("server", function () {  
    return gulp.src(["index.js", "package.json"], { cwd: "server/**" })
/* styles and other assets */
gulp.task("assets", function(){  
    return gulp.src(["styles.css"])
 * Copy all required libraries into build directory.
gulp.task("libs", function () {  
    return gulp.src([
    ], { cwd: "node_modules/**" }) /* Glob required here. */
 * Build the project.
gulp.task("default", ['resources', 'libs'], function () {  
    console.log("Building the project ...");

You can run any of the gulp tasks individually
* gulp clean - deletes the /build folder * gulp server - copies the server to the /build folder * etc

or run all them by just typing gulp at the command or terminal. *Note that the gulp-cli is required, install this using npm install gulp-cli -g

Adding npm scripts

There are already a number of npm scripts in the project allowing you to do a number of tasks:

  • npm start - runs the compiler and a server at the same time, both in "watch mode".
  • npm run tsc - runs the TypeScript compiler once.
  • npm run tsc:w - runs the TypeScript compiler in watch mode; the process keeps running, awaiting changes to TypeScript files and re-compiling when it sees them.

...and others noted on the home repo page

Open up package.json in the root and add the following:

"build": "tsc && gulp",
    "prod": "npm run build && cd build && npm i && node index.js"
  • build - npm run build : runs the typescript compiler to transpile the application code to javascript, and then the gulp default task is run to create the /build folder.
  • prod - npm run prod : runs the build command above but also installs the express server and runs the production application from the /build folder on port 3000. This allows you to then open a browser and navigate to http://localhost:3000 to see the application as if it was running on a live server.


By using the ng2-startingline repo, you now have a development and build process ready to go.

Getting Started

# clone the repo
git clone <your app name>

# change directory to your app name
cd <your app name>

# delete the .git file to remove the binding from the angular repo
rm -rf .git  


npm install  
npm start  

Build for Production

# test locally
npm run prod  
# browse to http://localhost:3000

Deploy the /build folder to Azure websites via Dropbox, OneDrive or Github.

Try it out! Let me know what you think.

Tweet Post Share Update Email RSS

Hi, I'm Shayne Boyer, I write this site, work on ASP.NET Core content and Open Source, speak at national and community events while helping teams architect web and cloud applications.

angular2 angular gulp express nodejs