Introduction to Angular Libraries: Usage and Creation

Anton Ioffe - December 9th 2023 - 9 minutes read

In the vibrant ecosystem of Angular, the art of harnessing and crafting libraries is both a science and a strategic craft. As a senior developer looking to further distill your expertise into coherent and reusable modules, "Angular Libraries Demystified: The Essentials" is your comprehensive guide through the labyrinth of library creation and deployment. Embark on this elucidative journey, from the initial strokes of architecting a library to the nuances of its integration and optimization. This article is your blueprint for elevating the sophistication and reusability of your code – a voyage through the meticulous stages of development, designed to arm you with the tools to make a mark in the Angular realm with your own libraries that stand the test of change and scale.

Angular Libraries Demystified: The Essentials

Angular libraries are an indispensable aspect of application development, serving as a pivotal resource for scaling and managing codebases efficiently. They epitomize the concept of "write once, use everywhere" by allowing developers to encapsulate components, services, directives, and other Angular constructs into reusable packages. These packages, when designed properly, can seamlessly integrate into various Angular projects, promoting code reusability and reducing duplication of effort.

One might wonder about the core components that facilitate the functionality of an Angular library. The heart of the matter lies in the Angular Package Format (APF), which is the conventional guideline for structuring, bundling, and distributing these libraries. It encompasses module definitions, typings, metadata files intended for Ahead-of-Time (AOT) compilation, and entry points. Following the APF ensures that libraries are interoperable across different projects and versions of Angular, fostering a consistent and predictable development experience.

Reusability is not just a feature but a foundational principle of Angular libraries—it dictates that libraries should encapsulate functionality that is common and versatile enough to be utilized across divergent applications. These collections of functionality must be architected in such a way that they don't rely on a specific platform or environment, hence being platform-independent, which broadens their scope of application. By adhering to such principles, developers can create lean, focused libraries that target specific needs or use cases.

Moreover, a well-structured Angular library project is an exercise in modular design. By delineating clear boundaries around features and functional units, developers can construct libraries with compartmentalized and interchangeable parts. This modular approach not only aids in maintenance and reduces cognitive load but also enables selective import of only the required features, thus potentially reducing the overall size of applications and improving load times.

In conclusion, understanding and embracing the essence of Angular libraries—anchored by the APF, reusability, and modular design—is critical for developers aiming to streamline their development process. These principles help mitigate complexity in large-scale applications and offer a pathway towards a more organized and efficient code ecosystem, which is the stalwart of modern web app development. By internalizing these essentials, developers are well-positioned to maximize the potential of Angular in creating sophisticated, maintainable, and scalable applications.

Crafting A Library: From Conception to Creation

To initiate the development of an Angular library, first ensure the Angular CLI is installed. Begin by creating a new Angular workspace with ng new workspace-name --create-application=false. This sets up a workspace without an initial application since the focus is on the library. Next, cd into the workspace directory and generate your library with ng generate library myLibrary. This command scaffolds a new library project under the projects/ directory, complete with all necessary configuration files, such as ng-package.json and package.json.

The Angular CLI configures the project with a default build configuration. However, for larger, more complex libraries, the default TypeScript configuration might not suffice. Adjust the tsconfig.lib.json to configure the library's TypeScript settings appropriately. For example, setting "declaration": true ensures that TypeScript generates .d.ts files, which are essential for type checking when the library is consumed by an application. Moreover, amend the paths in the tsconfig.json to include mappings for the newly created library, facilitating an easier import process during development:

  "compilerOptions": {
    "baseUrl": "./",
    "paths": {
      "@myLibrary/*": ["dist/myLibrary/*"]

Creating a robust public API surface is crucial. Consumers of the library should have clear entry points to the library's functionalities. In your library's public-api.ts file, export all public entities like modules, services, and components. Ensure that private helpers or internal services are not exposed. It’s good practice to have a single-point-of-entry for your library's consumers:

// public-api.ts
export * from './lib/myLibrary.module';
export * from './lib/myLibrary.component';
export * from './lib/myLibrary.service';

As you continue crafting your library, be mindful of its structure. Organize code into feature modules and consider the dependencies each module has. Feature modules should encapsulate functionality and be independently usable when imported. This approach enhances modularity, reusability, and helps in maintaining clean code architecture:

// myLibrary-feature.module.ts
import { NgModule } from '@angular/core';
import { MyLibraryComponent } from './myLibrary-feature.component';

  declarations: [MyLibraryComponent],
  exports: [MyLibraryComponent]
export class MyLibraryFeatureModule {}

Before publishing, thorough testing is essential. The Angular CLI generates a default testing environment for your library. Use ng test myLibrary to run the test suite provided and ensure functionality behaves as expected. Pay attention to how changes might affect the tests, and update them accordingly to avoid code regression. Remember, a well-tested library is a cornerstone of trust for the consumers. Adjust karma.conf.js and test.ts if necessary to align with your testing strategies, and ensure that all scenarios are covered.

Living on the Edge: Managing Dependencies and Versioning

In a TypeScript ecosystem as dynamic as Angular, managing the dependencies of a library is a pivotal concern. Opting for peerDependencies within your package.json serves a crucial function; it informs the consumer of your library about the versions of the packages that are compatible with it, without imposing nested dependencies. This choice can prevent duplicate versions of a dependency from being installed in the host application, which can alleviate significant bundling and runtime issues. However, one must be judicious in designating peer dependencies, as specifying overly restrictive version ranges can lead to incompatibility with future versions of the consuming application's dependencies.

Versioning is another cornerstone of library management, especially given the waterfall effects a single change can trigger. Following Semantic Versioning (SemVer) standards helps maintainers and consumers alike navigate the evolution of a library. Major version increments signal backward-incompatible changes, while minor and patch releases convey new features and bug fixes respectively. Sticking to this convention can save developers from unforeseen breaking changes and hours of debugging, as it provides a clear and consistent framework for version progression, while also informing dependents of the potential impact of an update.

One common oversight in the realm of dependencies management involves forgetting to update the library's peer dependencies when updating the library itself. This can result in consumers of the library facing unmet or conflicting dependency versions, which can cause applications to break. To remedy this, regularly validate that the specified versions of peer dependencies represent the actual range of compatibility, and evaluate whether newer versions can be accommodated without jeopardizing stability.

When considering how to package an Angular library, one's approach to handling dependencies can strongly influence the library's portability and ease-of-use. For instance, wrapping all dependencies as peer dependencies makes the assumption that consumers will provide them, which keeps your library lightweight but shifts the onus of maintaining those dependencies onto the consumer. Alternatively, direct inclusion of dependencies can simplify the consumer's experience but contribute to bloating the final bundle sizes and potentially causing version conflicts if other libraries also include their dependencies directly.

Lastly, version management is not solely to facilitate compatibility. It is equally about communication. Clear, thorough, and timely change logs guide consumers through updates, promoting trust and ease of use. Each update should accompany a change log entry detailing new features, fixes, and especially breaking changes with migration instructions. This not only supports efficient upgrades but also fosters a community of informed users who can anticipate and adapt to changes, thereby reinforcing the ecosystem around the library.

Seamless Integration: Publishing and Using Angular Libraries

Once your Angular library is feature-complete and tested, the next critical step is packaging and making it available to others via npm. Utilize the ng-packagr tool powered by the Angular CLI to inline templates and compile the library using the Angular Compiler (ngc). This process generates the necessary distribution files, including the ES5 and ES2015 bundles, typings, and metadata required for Ahead-of-Time (AOT) compilation. Developers should ensure the library adheres to the Angular Package Format, which dictates the directory structure and files necessary for compatibility with Angular applications.

Semantic versioning presents a structured approach to version management. By incrementing the major, minor, or patch number, you communicate the level of changes in the release. This system is particularly crucial for Angular libraries due to the potential for breaking changes. Major versions should increment for substantial updates or changes that are not backward compatible. Minor versions introduce new features that don't break existing functionality, and patches are for bug fixes. Adhering to semantic versioning practices will help consumers to manage updates and dependencies effectively.

Publishing the library to npm is relatively straightforward. Ensure your package.json includes a unique name, preferably scoped under your npm username, and confirm that it lists all peer dependencies, establishing the versions of Angular your library is known to be compatible with. Remember, using peer dependencies instead of direct dependencies avoids version conflicts in host applications. After successfully logging into your npm account via the command line, publish the library with npm publish. If it's your first release or the package is private, you may use --access public flag to indicate the library should be publicly available.

To consume the library, developers install it from npm as they would with any other package. In the host Angular application, run npm install <library-name>, and ensure that the Angular module importing the library includes it in the imports array. This makes the library's components, directives, and services available for use. Consumers should be vigilant about the library's version they depend on and update cautiously, balancing the need for new features against the stability of their application.

There are performance implications to consider when integrating external Angular libraries. Evaluate each library for its impact on the size of the final bundle and the overall performance. Modern tree-shaking tools like Webpack and the Angular CLI can help by eliminating unused code from the final application bundle. However, it's essential to scrutinize the library's structure to ensure that components and services are properly modularized and can be imported selectively to promote efficient bundling.

Refinements and Good Practices: Testing, Documentation, and Treeshaking

Effective testing strategies for Angular libraries ensure that the code is robust and behaves as expected in a variety of scenarios. A comprehensive test suite should cover unit tests for individual components, services, and pipes using Jasmine and the Angular Testing Utilities to simulate the behavior of dependencies. Integration tests verify that components work together correctly as a cohesive unit, and end-to-end testing with tools like Protractor can simulate real-world user interactions with your library.

Documentation for your library is indispensable. A well-documented library should include a clear and concise README with setup instructions, simple examples, and an API description for public methods, classes, and interfaces. For more complex libraries, consider adding a documentation site with detailed guides, advanced usage examples, and tips for troubleshooting common issues. Leverage tools like Compodoc to generate documentation sites automatically, ensuring that your project’s documentation stays up-to-date with your codebase.

Treeshaking is a crucial optimization that eliminates dead code from your final bundle, reducing application size and improving load times. To optimize for treeshaking, structure your library using Angular’s modular system, with one component per module when possible. Avoid side effects in your module files and use ES2015 module syntax (import/export), as this style is more treeshake-friendly. Furthermore, ensure that your npm package contains the sideEffects: false flag, signaling that your package's modules can be safely treeshaken.

When developing Angular libraries, consider the following real-world example of a pipe that formats dates. First, the pipe is defined in its own Angular module, which allows consumers to import only this module if that’s all they need:

// date-format.pipe.ts
@Pipe({ name: 'dateFormat' })
export class DateFormatPipe implements PipeTransform {
    transform(value: Date | string, format: string): string {
        // Formatting logic here

// date-format.module.ts
    declarations: [DateFormatPipe],
    exports: [DateFormatPipe]
export class DateFormatModule {}

For treeshaking, only the necessary pieces of the library are included in the final bundle when used in an Angular application. Conversely, if we defined multiple pipes, components, and directives in a single module, it would be less efficient for treeshaking, possibly resulting in bloated bundles even if only one feature is used.

Lastly, be mindful of common coding mistakes when developing Angular libraries. For example, failing to declare components, services, or pipes as exportable in the public-api.ts file can lead to unexpected errors for consumers. Correct this by ensuring that all public-facing elements of your library are properly exported:

// Incorrect: The service is defined but not exported in public-api.ts
export * from './lib/date-format.pipe';

// Correct: The DateFormatPipe is properly exported for public use
export * from './lib/date-format.pipe';
export * from './lib/date-format.service';

By applying these testing, documentation, and treeshaking practices, you ensure that your Angular library is not only functional but also well-understood and efficiently integrated into any project.


This article provides an in-depth exploration of Angular libraries and their essential components, emphasizing the importance of adhering to the Angular Package Format, creating platform-independent and modular designs, and managing dependencies and versioning. The article also highlights the process of creating and publishing an Angular library, along with best practices for testing, documentation, and treeshaking. To challenge readers, they can try creating their own Angular library and optimize it for treeshaking to improve performance and reduce bundle size.

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