Angular Schematics: Customizing Generators and Builders

Anton Ioffe - November 24th 2023 - 10 minutes read

In this exploratory journey into the realm of Angular Schematics, we invite seasoned developers to master the craft of personalizing their development workflow. Our discourse will traverse the construction of bespoke Schematics generators, equipping you with the knowledge to tailor features from the ground up. We'll scaffold a blueprint for your development environment, meticulously weave the templating logic that powers your application's scaffolding, and delve into advanced customization strategies that transcend the conventional. By concluding with rigorous testing and deployment protocols, this article prepares you to not only innovate within your projects but also to contribute significantly to the broader Angular ecosystem. Prepare to enrich your toolkit with the finesse of custom Schematics—a transformative step towards engineering excellence.

Harnessing Angular Schematics: Crafting Custom Generators

Angular Schematics are powerful tools for code generation, allowing developers to automate many of the repetitive tasks associated with setting up new features or adhering to architectural patterns. At the heart of a custom Schematic is the collection.json file, which serves as the entry point. This JSON file defines the Schematic by naming it and pointing to the Schematic's main implementation file typically named index.ts. The collection.json encompasses metadata about available Schematics and their associated properties, acting as a manifest for the tools the Angular CLI will offer to the developer.

The index.ts file holds the actual logic of the Schematic. It exports a function that manipulates the file system through a set of rules, applying transformations, generating new files, or updating existing ones. The power of a Schematic lies here, within its ability to carry out complex file system operations that yield a significant boost to productivity. This logic is usually composed of Rule Factory functions that return a Rule, which operates on a Tree to create a new Filesystem Tree representing file alterations.

Central to a Schematic's customizability is the schema.json file, which defines the expected inputs for the Schematic. It lists all the options that a developer can pass to the command line when executing a Schematic, along with their default values, descriptions, and required status. This schema acts as a contract between the Schematic and the user, ensuring that the necessary information is provided for the Schematic to execute correctly. It plays an instrumental role in the user experience as it also integrates with interactive prompts when options are not provided directly on the command line.

In addition to these configuration files, another vital component is the files/ directory housing the templates for the Schematic. The files within this directory are essentially blueprints that include placeholders which the Schematic logic populates with the provided arguments and options. These templates determine the structure and content of the files generated by a Schematic, leveraging the powerful templating syntax of Angular to customize outputs based on the user input described in schema.json.

By understanding these key files and directories — collection.json, index.ts, schema.json, and the files/ directory — it becomes apparent how they interweave to form the backbone of a custom Angular Schematic. Akin to the parts of a well-designed engine, each plays a specific role in the customization of the Angular project, enabling an effortless and consistent developer experience that scales across large teams and complex requirements. This modular and declarative system exemplifies the elegance of Angular's approach to code generation and automation.

Schematic Development Environment Setup

To kick off development with Angular Schematics, begin by installing Node.js. Node.js set up on your machine is the foundation for using Schematics. Next, install the Schematics CLI globally using npm install -g @angular-devkit/schematics-cli. This equips you with the necessary tools to create and manipulate Schematics.

Armed with the Schematics CLI, navigate to your workspace and generate a new schematic with schematics blank --name='yourSchematicName'. Replace yourSchematicName with a name of your choice to create a project structure that includes the necessary files to get started.

Enhance your project by adding Angular Schematic dependencies with npm install @angular-devkit/schematics --save-dev. This step provides useful files and tools, enabling you to build your Schematic with access to a range of utilities from the Angular ecosystem.

Before diving into the development of your custom Schematic, make sure the project is correctly set up. Confirm that the src folder contains an index.ts file, which will house your schematic's logic. Proper validation of the setup at this stage is crucial to avoid future issues.

Finally, tailor your development environment for an effective Schematics development workflow. Implement a watch task that monitors for changes and automatically compiles your Schematic, ensuring a smooth and efficient development process. With these preparations complete, you're ready to proceed with defining and implementing custom generators and builders.

Designing and Implementing Templating Logic

When incorporating templating logic within Angular Schematics, careful consideration of the project structure is paramount, as is the mindful manipulation of paths and folders. Utilizing the Tree API, developers can refine path logic that matches the specific layout of the workspace. A robust handling of project paths is demonstrated through this code:

import { buildDefaultPath } from '@schematics/angular/utility/project';
// ... other necessary imports ...

function updateProjectPaths(tree, options) {
    const workspaceConfig ='/angular.json');
    if (!workspaceConfig) {
        throw new SchematicsException('Could not find Angular configuration file');
    // Parse the configuration file.
    const workspaceContent = workspaceConfig.toString();
    const workspace = JSON.parse(workspaceContent);
    // Retrieve the project definition.
    const project = workspace.projects[options.project];
    if (!project) {
        throw new SchematicsException(`Could not find project: ${options.project}`);
    // Utilize Angular's DevKit utility to derive the default path.
    const templatedPath = buildDefaultPath(project);
    return templatedPath;

Decisions regarding directory creation can be elegantly addressed with conditionals, as showcased in the below function which ensures that directories are created only when required:

function createDirectory(tree, options) {
    const directoryPath = normalize('/projects/' +;
    if (!options.flat && !tree.exists(directoryPath)) {
        tree.create(directoryPath, null); // Safely creates a directory if it doesn't exist.

Injecting variables into templates is made seamless with the corrected application of dynamic content. Annotations explain each step clearly:

import { template, move, apply } from '@angular-devkit/schematics';
import { strings, normalize } from '@angular-devkit/core';

// ... other necessary code ...

function applyDynamicContent(templateSource, options) {
    return apply(templateSource, [
        template({ ...options, ...strings }), // Inject provided variables.
        move(normalize(options.path)) // Normalize the destination path.

When dealing with file patterns in templates, utilizing appropriate filters is crucial. A judicious rule to exclude certain file types improves template management:

import { filter } from '@angular-devkit/schematics';

function filterTemplates(templateSource) {
    return apply(templateSource, [
        filter(path => !path.endsWith('.spec.ts')) // Exclude test specification files.

Choosing an appropriate merge strategy prevents conflicts with existing files. Here, the merge strategies have been properly introduced, ensuring that file generation aligns with the project's layout:

import { mergeWith, chain, MergeStrategy, apply, Rule } from '@angular-devkit/schematics';

function generateFiles(tree: Tree, path: string, templateSource: Source, options: any): Rule {
    const rule = chain([
        mergeWith(applyDynamicContent(templateSource, options), MergeStrategy.Overwrite),

    return rule;

The code examples provided strive to serve not only as a showcase of Angular Schematics’ capabilities but also as templates for clean, reusable code that maintains modularity across diverse project setups. By sticking strictly to best practices and demonstrating a pragmatic approach, these snippets offer a clear path for senior developers to tailor powerful templating mechanisms to the variable landscapes of modern web applications.

Advanced Customization Techniques for Schematics

When it comes to advanced customization in Angular Schematics, incorporating complex variables extends the schematics beyond simple file creation. In scaffolding, one might confront scenarios requiring numerous configurations in generated files. By utilizing the template option in the Rule factory, we can introduce conditionals and loops using template syntax. Consider a scenario where the schematic generates a module with optional services defined by the user. It necessitates a nuanced template capable of iterating over an array of services.

// src/my-schematic/files/__name@dasherize__.module.ts.template
import { NgModule } from '@angular/core';
<% if (services && services.length) { %>
  <% services.forEach(service => { %>
import { <%= classify( %>Service } from './<%= dasherize( %>.service';
  <% }) %>
<% } %>

  <% if (services && services.length) { %>
  providers: [
    <% services.forEach(service => { %>
    <%= classify( %>Service,
    <% }) %>
  <% } %>
export class <%= classify(name) %>Module { }

In tandem with advanced template logic, correctly structuring the JSON schema is pivotal for input validation and providing a better developer experience. By detailing acceptable input types, default values, and enums, we can avert common schematic errors. The schema not only serves as a contract for the inputs but also self-documents by enumerating the expected options. Here is an illustration of a complex schema.json ensuring the configuration object's rigor:

// src/my-schematic/schema.json
  "type": "object",
  "properties": {
    "name": { "type": "string", "description": "The name of the module." },
    "services": {
      "type": "array",
      "description": "List of services to include in the module.",
      "items": {
        "type": "object",
        "properties": {
          "name": { "type": "string", "description": "The name of the service." }
        "required": ["name"]
  "required": ["name"]

To enhance the schematic's functionality, one could integrate additional logic, such as appending imports or updating existing files. This calls for file system manipulation outside the scope of mere file generation. The following code demonstrates appending an import to the root module using the Tree API and InsertChange utility:

function updateAppModule(options: any): Rule {
  return (tree: Tree) => {
    const modulePath = '/src/app/app.module.ts';
    const text =;
    if (text === null) {
      throw new SchematicsException(`File ${modulePath} does not exist.`);
    const sourceText = text.toString('utf-8');
    const source = ts.createSourceFile(modulePath, sourceText, ts.ScriptTarget.Latest, true);
    const importPath = `./${}/${}.module`;
    const relativePath = buildRelativePath(modulePath, importPath);
    const changes = addImportToModule(source, modulePath, `${classify(}Module`, relativePath);

    const recorder = tree.beginUpdate(modulePath);
    for (const change of changes) {
      if (change instanceof InsertChange) {
        recorder.insertLeft(change.pos, change.toAdd);

    return tree;

Shifting from basics to these advanced techniques encourages us to adopt a more strategic approach. By embracing conditionals, import management, and complex objects, we open a pathway for modular and reusable schematics. This, however, also introduces new complexities—what if the generated code needs to adapt further post-generation? How do we balance the comprehensiveness of our templates with the simplicity necessary to maintain them? Can we achieve an ideal level of abstraction without compromising on the clarity required for teamwork and future maintenance? These questions beckon consideration as we delve deeper into the craft of schematics.

Testing, Debugging, and Deployment Best Practices

Testing Practices for Angular Schematics

When developing custom Angular Schematics, thorough testing is imperative to ensure that generated code is free from defects and behaves as expected in different scenarios. Unit tests should be written for each rule and utility function in your schematic. Leverage Jasmine and the Schematics Testing API, particularly SchematicTestRunner, which can simulate the file system for testing purposes. A common mistake is not isolating tests, which can lead to false positives as tests could inadvertently rely on the outcomes of previous tests. Correct this by resetting the SchematicTestRunner workspace before each test case. Assess coverage to identify untested paths, aiming for extensive coverage to minimize the number of bugs and regressions.

Debugging Strategies for Schematics

Effective debugging is essential when you're working with abstract syntax trees (ASTs) and file transformations typical in schematics. Debugging can be done using Node.js inspection. However, remember to build your schematic before debugging, as you need to work with the compiled JavaScript files. A misstep developers often encounter is attempting to debug the schematic's TypeScript source directly, which doesn't reflect the executed code. Instead, run the schematic with Node's --inspect-brk flag and attach a debugger to step through the JavaScript code. Use console.log judiciously to inspect transformations, but ensure to clean up any logging statements before finalizing your schematic.

Deployment and Packaging Best Practices

Before deploying your schematic, make sure to compile all TypeScript to JavaScript, adhere to the Angular package format, and include a well-defined package.json with proper dependencies and peerDependencies listed. For a seamless developer experience, ensure that your entry points in collection.json and package.json are correctly referenced. Misconfigurations in these files can lead to a schematic that doesn't register properly within the Angular CLI, culminating in a frustrating user experience. When it’s time to publish, use npm or another package manager suitable for your distribution goals. If the schematic is meant for internal use, you might consider a private npm registry or workspace hosting.

Version Management and Changelogs

Just as with any software module, proper versioning of your schematics package will save consumers from potential breaking changes introduced by updates. Follow semantic versioning (semver) to communicate the impact of changes in each release. Developers commonly forget to update changelogs, leading to confusion about what changes each version brings. It's crucial to document what has changed, especially for major versions that may include breaking changes or significant feature additions. Automated tools like 'standard-version' can help you manage versions and changelogs more efficiently.

Community and Support

Once your schematic is deployed, it's important to maintain and support it, addressing issues and feature requests as they arise. Engage with the community that uses your schematics. An often-overlooked best practice is to provide clear documentation within the repository, offering usage instructions, examples, and a contribution guide. Make sure to include sufficient inline comments within your schematics code to clarify complex logic and transformations. This fosters a supportive environment where others can learn from and contribute to your project, enhancing its value and longevity. Keep an eye on feedback and be open to collaborative improvements. Remember, your schematic may be solving a problem for many developers, and clear guidance can facilitate its adoption and impact.


This article explores the customization capabilities of Angular Schematics for senior-level developers in modern web development. It covers the process of creating custom generators, implementing templating logic, advanced customization techniques, and best practices for testing, debugging, deployment, and version management. The key takeaway is that Angular Schematics provide a powerful way to automate repetitive tasks and streamline the development workflow. The challenging task for readers is to create their own custom Schematic that generates a module with optional services, incorporating advanced templating logic and ensuring proper configuration and documentation.

Don't Get Left Behind:
The Top 5 Career-Ending Mistakes Software Developers Make
FREE Cheat Sheet for Software Developers