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What To Expect In Angular 8

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March and April have come and gone without a final Angular 8 release, so we’re now past the Angular team’s original target ship date. Many Angular developers were expecting a final release during ng-conf. There was also plenty of exciting Angular news revealed during the conference, including an extended roadmap of what to expect in Angular 9. The ng-conf team has already posted all of the conference sessions on YouTube.

What To Expect In Angular 8

We’ve already seen several Angular 8 beta releases, and we can expect to see several more before the framework’s final release.

With a new release on the way, it’s important to understand what changes are in store so you’ll be able to determine how to approach Angular 8. Since Angular 7 is going to be supported until April of 2020, you may decide that it’s not worth upgrading if Angular 7 already meets all of your needs.

What’s New in Angular 8

The Angular team has announced that they’re going to be including Ivy in Angular 8 as an opt-in preview. Many Angular developers were hoping for a final release of Ivy, but that’s not what we’re getting in this release. A preview is a lot better than no view. Trying out the preview will let you see how well your current Angular applications work – or don’t work – with Ivy.

If you’re not familiar with Ivy, is it something you should care about? If the user experience of your apps is important to you, then Ivy is definitely something you should care about. Although the framework has made huge improvements in file size and runtime speed since the days of Angular 2, Angular apps often tend to be on the heavy side when it comes to file size and memory use.

Angular Ivy

Ivy aims to change this. Compared with the current Angular View Engine, Ivy provides the following benefits:

  • The code generated by the Angular compiler is now much easier for humans to read and understand
  • Rebuild times are significantly faster
  • Decreased payload size, so it will take browsers less time to download and parse your applications
  • Better template type checking, so you can catch more errors at build time and prevent your users from encountering them at runtime

On top of all this, Angular Ivy aims to be broadly compatible with existing Angular applications, so ideally, you’ll be able to get all of Ivy’s benefits without having to change your apps at all. There will be some bugs and hiccups, though. That’s why it’ll be helpful to try building your current Angular apps using Angular 8 and Ivy.

So, if your Angular app supports multiple languages and/or uses server-side rendering, don’t expect it to be ready to work with Ivy just yet. One other trouble spot some users have encountered has been Angular Material. Apps using Angular Material don’t seem to play well with Ivy, as of the latest Angular 8 beta. Keep this in mind when experimenting with Angular 8 (although eventually Angular Material will undoubtedly be updated to work well with Ivy).

Additional Changes with Angular 8

Outside of Ivy, there are a few other changes to look forward to in Angular 8. One of the most important changes is what the Angular team describes as ‘Differential Loading of Modern JavaScript.’ To put it simply, this means that new apps generated by Angular CLI will now contain separate bundles for legacy JavaScript (ES5) and modern JavaScript (ES2015+). This is great news because it means that modern browsers with ES2015 support will be able to download smaller, more efficient app bundles that load and render faster than before.

The Angular team is also adding a backward compatibility mode to the Angular router which will make it easier to upgrade legacy Angular apps to modern Angular. In an ideal world, we would have all been able to upgrade our Angular 1.x apps to Angular 2+ right away.

In the real world though, this doesn’t always happen. To this day, there are a large number of massive legacy Angular apps happily chugging away, serving businesses and making users happy. They haven’t been upgraded for a simple reason: they’re working well, and there wouldn’t be much ROI in doing a complete rewrite.

Angular 8 Support for Web Workers

A small, but welcome new feature in Angular 8 will be improved support for bundling web workers with the Angular CLI. This is great news for front-end developers because prior to web workers, our applications were limited to using a single thread.

There’s one catch with web workers: the code that runs in the worker can’t be in the same JavaScript file as the rest of your application. It must be separate. This tends to work poorly with tools like the Angular CLI that want to automatically bundle up your JavaScript into as few files as possible. The improvements to Angular CLI’s web worker bundling in Angular 8 will get rid of this awkwardness and set you on the path to fully parallelized web worker happiness.

The Angular CLI will be gaining another new feature: opt-in usage sharing. This will give you the opportunity to opt-in to sharing telemetry about your Angular CLI usage with the Angular team. I’ve got to applaud the Angular team for approaching this the right way.

Support for TypeScript

Finally, Angular 8 is going to include updates to the latest and greatest versions of Angular’s dependencies, which include tools like RxJS and TypeScript. Although this might seem like a tiny improvement, it’s also a welcome one. Keeping up with TypeScript, in particular, is great because the TypeScript team always seems to pack useful new features into every release.

Angular 8 Anticipation

As we’ve seen, the additions to Angular 8 aren’t huge outside of Ivy. Although they’re absolutely nice to have, they certainly aren’t critical for most applications. More importantly, upgrading to Angular 8 will enable you to ensure your apps are ready for Ivy. Although Ivy is only an opt-in preview in Angular 8, the time to start checking for Ivy compatibility is now.

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