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If you’re following our articles on Angular you might know that, a couple of months ago, we’ve written about the new router, how it can be used, and how it differs from the
ngRoute standard router. Whereas we mostly touched on using the router in Angular 1 applications, this article discusses how it can be used in Angular 2 applications.
We won’t talk about how to get started with Angular 2. We assume that we’re all familiar with the installation process and how to bootstrap a small Angular 2 application. If this is entirely new to you, I recommend checking out our articles on developing a zippy component or developing a tabs component in Angular 2. Another great starting point is the starter kit by our friends over at AngularClass.
Bootstrapping the router
In order to use the new router, we need to import all needed components from the Angular framework and bind them to our component’s injector. Note that, even if in this article we’re importing straight from Angular, this might change in the future, since the router source has only temporarily been moved to the core.
To avoid additional typing, and also to hide some boilerplate logic, the router module exports a variable
routerInjectables which contains all injector bindings to get going. To give you an idea of what that looks like, here’s a small snippet from the router’s source:
It’s really just a collection of binding declarations. If you see those kind of bindings for the very first time, you might want to read our article on dependency injection in Angular 2. The short version is that each item in this collection describes how to create an object of a specific type when our application asks for an object of that type.
For example the following binding tells the injector to create an instance of
RootRouter whenever someone asks for an object of type
The router exports a couple of other components that are needed thoughout our application, but we’ll cover them later in this article.
Alright, now that we know what
routerInjectables are, we can import and use them when bootstrapping our application, to make the router components available in our component’s dependency injector.
bootstrap takes a list of injector bindings as second argument. Those bindings are used when an injector is created. which means, passing
routerInjectables here basically makes all the bindings application-wide available.
For now we want to implement basic routing with a couple of components. All we need to do is to create a component that has a template with a navigation, and some router specific template logic. Let’s start small - here’s what our
App component could look like (without router logic):
Pretty much an empty component with a template. We also take advantage of decorators, that’s why we need to import
View. You can read more about decorators (and also annotations) in our article on the difference between annotations and decorators. Annotations can be used in ES5 code as well. In case this is more interesting to you, this article shows you how.
According to our application’s template, we seem to have a
About and a
Contact component. In order to be able to navigate to those components, we first need to configure the router in our application. As mentioned earlier, next to
routerInjectables, there are other components that the router module exports. One of them is the
RouteConfig class which can be used to decorate a component with routing capabilities.
RouteConfig takes a collection of route configurations. A route configuration is an object with a
path and a
component, so pretty much the same we have in Angular 1 too. Here’s what the route configuration for our
Start component could look like:
Easy right? One small difference compared to the Angular 1 version we see here, is that a component is provided as a class (or constructor function in ES5) instead of a string that represents the name of a component.
That’s why we need to import our
Start component first. Let’s take a quick look at what that component looks like:
Nothing special here. Let’s make sure that our loaded component is actually displayed when the router activates it.
Displaying the component
In order to display the loaded component in our application, we need to specify the location in our application’s template. If you’ve read our first article on the new router, you know that there’s a directive called
RouterOutlet that lets us define a place in our template to display the loaded component.
Let’s do that. All we need to do is to import the directive, extend our application’s
@View annotation configuration and use the directive in the template:
That’s it! Since our route configuration says that
/ is mapped to our
Start component, we don’t have to do anything special for now to activate that component - it is loaded by default.
Linking to other components
Of course, setting up a single route that is displayed by default, isn’t really what we’re looking for. Our application can have multiple route configurations and we also want to be able to navigate to each of them. But how can we achieve this? In
ngRoute we just use normal links with
href attributes and the module is smart enough to intercept accordingly. In UI-Router, we have a directive
uiSref that takes a state name or a relative path to navigate to. What does the new router provide?
Well, as you might know, the new router shares a code base for both, the Angular 1 and Angular 2 version. In our last article we explored the
router-link directive, which allows us to navigate to components. Guess what, we can use the same in Angular 2!
In Angular 2, the
RouterLink directive is exported by the router module. In order to use it, we need to import it first and declare it as directive dependency of our component’s template, just like
Awesome, now it can be used in the template. Let’s extend our navigation with proper links that make use of
RouterLink. The directive takes a component name and if the underlying DOM element is an anchor element, it generates a URL based on the component’s route configuration, which is then added to it as part of the
You might wonder, how the directive knows that
"start" should generate a URL for our
Start component. In fact, it can’t until we extend our router configuration. Next to
component there’s another configuration property
as that allows us to expose a router configuration under a given name.
E.g. if we want to use
start as an “alias” for the route configuration for the
Start component, we simply have to add the configuration accordingly. While we are at it, we do the same for the other two components, and just assume that we’ve built them already:
Now the router actually knows for what to generate URLs when using
RouterLink. Cool, we can navigate to single components throughout our application, but what if we have components that use more than one
Routes with sibling outlets
It’s very common to have sibling outlets in a state (or component). In Angular 1, the UI-Router comes with a very powerful mechanism to support sibling states. Of course, such a feature is supported in the new component router too. At the time of writing this article, this feature was still in development and didn’t work yet, but we can still take a look at what the APIs will look like.
Having a component with multiple outlets is easy. Let’s say we have a dashboard component component that needs to load a navigation component and a statistics component. First we would of course setup a route config to be able to navigate to the dashboard component.
Alright, nothing new here. Let’s jump over to the dashboard component. The dashboard defines two sibling outlets. In order to tell the router what to load into those siblings, we can give them names and reference them to components accordingly in our route configuration. Here’ what the configuration of the dashboard component could look like:
Statistics are really just two components that don’t even have to know that they are part of a route configuration. We can also see how the
as property in the route configuration can be nicely used as an alias for component combinations.
There’s so much more coming
This article gives us just a little picture of how the new router can be used in Angular 2 compared to Angular 1. As you can see a lot of things are very similar, which will surely help when migrating to Angular 2. Of course, there are more things to cover, like how to deal with nested components and how to do dynamic routing using
Router. Those things will be part of future articles.
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