An example application using the AngularJS App template
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README.md

Angular TechStacks

TechStacks is a AngularJS CRUD App that lets you Browse and Add Technology Stacks of popular StartUps. After Signing in you can add your own TechStacks and favorite technologies to create a personalized custom 'feed' to view Websites and Apps built with your favorite programming languages and technologies.

TechStacks is based on a Bootstrap template with client-side features:

  • HTML5 Routing to enable pretty urls, also supports full page reloads and back button support
  • Same Services supporting both human-readable Slugs or int primary keys
  • Responsive design supporting iPad Landscape and Portrait modes
  • Preloading and background data fetching to reduce flicker and maximize responsiveness
  • Disqus commenting system
  • Chosen for UX-friendly multi combo boxes

and some of TechStacks back-end features include:

Live Demo

Home Page

Home Page Screenshot

View TechStack

TechStack Screenshot

Personalized Feed based on Favorite Technologies

Personlaized TechStacks Feed

Developer Guide

TechStacks is a good example of the experience you can get running a ServiceStackVS built AngularJS App on modest hardware - techstacks.io is currently running on a shared single m1.small AWS EC2 instance and db.t1.micro RDS PostgreSQL instance that's hosting all ServiceStack Live Demos.

In this guide we'll look at different parts of ServiceStack that are used as well as the developer workflow and deployment.

Table of contents

Getting started

If you haven't already got the ServiceStackVS extension installed, you can find it in the VS extension gallery either through the VS interface or via the gallery website. Instructions here.

Once installed, the "AngularJS App (beta)" template can be used to start off the project.

Create new project

Template overview

The AngularJS App template is way to get up and running quickly with an AngularJS application with backing ServiceStack web services. It includes Bootstrap, Grunt/Gulp with tasks for testing, packaging and stubs for configured deployment using WebDeploy (MSDeply). More information on the template and different client side tasks can be found here.

This project template does require Node/NPM and Git to be available in the PATH. This is due to its use of Bower/NPM when setting up the initial project.

The project is structured in a way that puts all the JavaScript together under the /js folder of the main project. Folders under the /js folder represent a view or isolated feature/control for our application. For example, /js/techs has a controllers.js and services.js to handle views specific to displaying technologies. Depending on the size of the project, this pattern can be a nice balance between lines of code per file and number of files and folders. There are many other project structures that could be used, and is best to go with whatever suits your projects size and scope.

/css
    Application specific CSS files
/img
    Image resources
/js
    Application JS
/partials
    AngularJS templates
/Scripts
    Only here to enable intellisense for CSS and JS libraries by default
/tests
    Karma config
    /unit
        Karma spec files
/wwwroot
    Output directory
/wwwroot_build
    Grunt shortcuts, build and deploy files
AppHost.cs
bower.json
Global.asax
gruntfile.js
index.html
package.json
packages.config
web.config

OAuth authentication

ServiceStack support a wide range of authentication configurations. Authentication providers just need to be added to the AuthFeature plugin.

this.Plugins.Add(new AuthFeature(() => new CustomUserSession(), 
new IAuthProvider[]
{
    new TwitterAuthProvider(AppSettings), 
    new GithubAuthProvider(AppSettings)
}));

TechStacks only hadded Twitter and Github support for simplicity. The Authentication and authorization wiki page has a large list of providers and other detailed documentation on how authentication works in ServiceStack.

OrmLite

To make development simple and keep all require dependencies local, it uses a different SQL dialect provider for local development than at runtime when deployed. In this case, we are switching out Postgres for Sqlite when developing.

if (AppSettings.GetString("OrmLite.Provider") == "Postgres")
{
    container.Register<IDbConnectionFactory>(
		new OrmLiteConnectionFactory(
			AppSettings.GetString("OrmLite.ConnectionString"), PostgreSqlDialect.Provider));
}
else
{
    container.Register<IDbConnectionFactory>(
		new OrmLiteConnectionFactory("~/App_Data/db.sqlite".MapHostAbsolutePath(), SqliteDialect.Provider));
}

This is switched using the environment settings file appsettings.txt which initially is located in the wwwroot-build/deploy folder when using the project template. For this application it was moved to the wwwroot-build/publish folder to avoid being included in source control by default. This was due to having connection strings and other information that shouldn't be stored in source control for security reasons.

Developer workflow

The focus for this project was to ensure that the instant feedback of JavaScript development wasn't lost whilst still making it managable as the project gets larger. AngularJS's module system is very simple and doesn't offer advanced features like browserify/require does. Although this can be a pain, it does avoid issues around compiling your JS in your development workflow which can cause problems.

The workflow for adding a new view to the template as a few additional steps up front, but these steps make the packaging/deployment simpler and more consistent.

Creating a new view
  1. Create a new JS file to contain your AngularJS controller and if required services/filters etc.
  2. Add them to the index.html within your applications 'build' comment block. build comment blocks
  3. Create a partial to be used for your route.
  4. Add the require module dependency to your application and define the new route referencing your new partial/view html file created in the previous step. Angular app route config

A third-party control that was integrated into this sample was the Chosen autocomplete control. This was wrapped in an Angular directive to make it reusable if needed. This is not a view so has been separated out into a /components directory, however the same first two steps are used as it still needs to be minified and inlcuded in the application.

After this, making and testing changes is as you would expect when writing JavaScript.

Packaging and deployment

The AngularJS App template in ServiceStackVS also setup with tasks to package and deploy the application to any server enabled with WebDeploy (MSDeploy).

Configuration for the deploment is already setup in the Grunt/Gulp task in '04-deploy-app' task. A config.json file is also present in the template to fill in the require details of using this to deploy using WebDeploy.

{
    "iisApp": "YourAppName",
    "serverAddress": "deploy-server.example.com",
    "userName": "{WebDeployUserName}",
    "password" : "{WebDeployPassword}"
}

If you are using Github's default Visual Studio ignore, this file will not be included in source control due to the default rule of publish/ to be ignored. You should check your Git Repository .gitignore rules before committing any potentially sensitive information into public source control.

This task shows a quick way of updating your development server quickly after making changes to your application. For more information on use web-deploy using either Grunt or just Visual Studio publish, see Simple Deployments to AWS with WebDeploy.

Template Runner Explorer

When changing client code, these changes could be quickly minified and deploy using tasks 03-package-client and 04-deploy-app. To compose these tasks into one step is a simple matter of registering a new grunt task.

grunt.registerTask('deploy-front-end', ['03-package-client', '04-deploy-app']);

Likewise with building both parts of the application.

grunt.registerTask('build-all', ['02-package-server', '03-package-client']);

More information on these default tasks included in the template can be found here.

The deployment step simply looks at the wwwroot folder where all build artifacts are copied and packages it up using WebDeploy. If another tool was being used to package and deploy, a ready to go copy of your application is easily created in wwwroot.

For example, .nugetspec could be used to construct a NuGet package for your application. Deployment tools like OctopusDeploy could then be used to automate deployment to your various environments.

Server Generated HTML Pages

Whilst we believe Single Page Apps like AngularJS offer the more responsive UI, we've also added a server html version of TechStacks to satisfy WebCrawlers like Googlebot so they're better able to properly index the Websites content. It also provides a good insight into the UX difference between a Single Page App vs Server HTML generated websites. Since TechStacks is running on modest hardware (i.e. IIS on shared m1.small EC2 instance with a shared micro RDS PostgreSQL backend) the differences are more visible with the AngularJS version still being able to yield a snappy App-like experience whilst the full-page reloads of the Server HTML version is clearly visible on each request.

The code to enable this is in ClientRoutesService.cs which illustrates a simple technique used to show different versions of your website which by default is enabled implicitly for Googlebot User Agents, or can be toggled explicitly between by visiting the routes below:

These links determine whether you'll be shown the AngularJS version or the Server HTML Generated version of the Website. We can see how this works by exploring how the technology pages are implemented which handle both the technology index:

as well as individual technology pages, e.g:

First we need to create empty Request DTO's to capture the client routes (as they were only previously configured in AngularJS routes):

[Route("/tech")]
public class ClientAllTechnologies {}

[Route("/tech/{Slug}")]
public class ClientTechnology
{
    public string Slug { get; set; }
}

Then we implement ServiceStack Services for these routes. The ShowServerHtml() helper method is used to determine whether to show the AngularJS or Server HTML version of the website which it does by setting a permanent cookie when techstacks.io?html=server is requested (or if the UserAgent is Googlebot). Every subsequent request then contains the html=server Cookie and so will show the Server HTML version. Users can then go to techstacks.io?html=client to delete the cookie and resume viewing the default AngularJS version:

public class ClientRoutesService : Service
{
    public bool ShowServerHtml()
    {
        if (Request.GetParam("html") == "client")
        {
            Response.DeleteCookie("html");
            return false;
        }

        var serverHtml = Request.UserAgent.Contains("Googlebot")
            || Request.GetParam("html") == "server";

        if (serverHtml)
            Response.SetPermanentCookie("html", "server");

        return serverHtml;
    }

    public object AngularJsApp()
    {
        return new HttpResult {
            View = "/default.cshtml"
        };
    }

    public object Any(ClientAllTechnologies request)
    {
        return !ShowServerHtml()
            ? AngularJsApp()
            : new HttpResult(base.ExecuteRequest(new GetAllTechnologies())) {
                View = "AllTech"
            };
    }

    public object Any(ClientTechnology request)
    {
        return !ShowServerHtml()
            ? AngularJsApp()
            : new HttpResult(base.ExecuteRequest(new GetTechnology { Reload = true, Slug = request.Slug })) {
                View = "Tech"
            };
    }
}

The difference between which Website to display boils down to which Razor page to render, where for AngularJS we return the /default.cshtml Home Page where the client routes then get handled by AngularJS. Whereas for the Server HTML version, it just renders the appropriate Razor View for that request.

The base.ExecuteRequest(new GetAllTechnologies()) API lets you execute a ServiceStack Service internally by just passing the GetAllTechnologies Request DTO. The Resposne DTO returned by the Service is then passed as a view model to the /Views/AllTech.cshtml Razor View.

We benefit from AngularJS declarative HTML pages when maintaining a server HTML generated version of this Website as porting AngularJS views to Razor is a relatively straight-forward process, basically consisting of converting Angular ng-attributes to @Razor statements, as can be seen in the client vs server versions of techstacks.io/tech index page:

Twitter Updates

Another way to increase user engagement of your website is by posting Twitter Updates, TechStacks does this whenever anyone adds a new Technology or Technology Stack by posting a status update to @webstacks. The code to make authorized Twitter API requests ends up being fairly lightweight as it can take advantage of ServiceStack's built-in support for Twitter OAuth.

We'd also love for others to Sign In and add their Company's Technology Stack on techstacks.io so everyone can get a better idea what technologies everyone's using!