Aurelia: First impressions

Aurelia: First impressions

Recently I had a small personal project that I wanted to rebuild, a project I had initially started quite some time back using AngularJS 1.x, but had never gotten around to finishing it.

Since then, there have however been countless changes in the Javascript world, with ES6 and all the new frameworks available, it seemed a better idea to simply start over with something newer. My first consideration was React, as currently at work we are developing with it, and I had recently used React Native to build a mobile application, it seemed the logical choice, also in part as it is to be the web version of the mobile application, Lusus.

Then I remembered that Aurelia, something that was on my 2016 ToDo (learn) list, and being both a small and personal project, there was no harm in trying something new, not like it had any actual deadline. Worst case scenario, I dislike the framework, formed a valid opinion and can try something else.

Having worked with both AngularJS 1 and 2, I was not really sure what to expect from Aurelia, it was the idea of Rob Eisenberg as he was not happy with the direction the team was taking with Angular 2, and personally neither was I, quite frankly I found it to be a horrific disaster, but that is my opinion…

Starting off could not of been easier, a quick spin up of the Aurelia skeleton navigation application, ES6 flavor of course, and I was off.

My zero second impression was confusion, expanding the ‘src’ folder in Atom to find a mess of files with no apparent structure, which is not something I am used to, but very easily rectified to my personal preferences.

Having read none of the documentation, watched no online tutorials and effectively going into the framework all but blind, I expected just jumping in to be more difficult than it was, it however felt both familiar and different at the same time.

From AJS 1.x I would have to say some of the more menial things have been simplified, including modules/components is a simple require tag.

  <!--Importing a component into a template-->
  <require from="component/component"></require>
  <require from="other-component/other-component.html"></require>

  <!--Displaying/rendering the imported component.-->
  <other-component data-bind="stuff"></other-component>

If you take a look at the block above you will see 2 ways of including a component, the first could be considered a ‘smart’ component which contains a view with logic, where both files share a name and only differ in extension.

Second would then be ‘dumb’ or a simply view component, containing no logic.

Rendering those imported components are just as simple, following the same convention as your file name.

// Binding data
import { bindable } from 'aurelia-framework';
import { moment } from 'moment';

export class OtherComponent{
//Binding data reference
@bindable data;

//Change handler (not required).
dataChanged(data) { = {,
    date: moment('YY MM DD'),

Binding logic to your components is almost intelligence in the way it wires everything together, firstly you do not actually need to specifically reference the JS file within your component, everything is wired together with the extension-less ‘require’.

This does mean however that there are some rules around naming your files/classes. File need to match, and class names need to be the CamelCase version of the file name.

For data binding, you simple need to import ‘bindable’ module, declare your binding reference, and add in an optional change handler, useful if you need to do any modification to the data for view purposes, like date formatting.

There was definitely some learning that had to happen, but I would have to say that this is how I would have imagined AngularJS 2 to have turned out.

This is not to say that Aurelia is perfect, and maybe I still need to do some additional learning, but I found it’s error logging and failure handling a bit too graceful and silent. No errors are logged to the browser console when you made a typo for example, so you will make a change, things do not line up and the application just sits there in the browser in a state of limbo with no indication as to what is wrong, not even a useless message like ‘error’ shows up.

API Call fails and you have not written specific handling for it, it either returns to the previous view, or hangs again without any indication, this could of been intentional as well really should be handling errors ourselves, but I still feel it is a bit too graceful.

Also just really silly, with the build in gulp processes, the build which is used for dev minfies the index.html, but the export (production) step does not, not even 10 seconds to fix it, but still funny.

All in all, anyone coming from AngularJS 1.x looking to move into the next generation, I would highly recommend Aurelia over Angular 2.x, there is infinitely less stupidity and bad decisions in Aurelia, and a much stronger familiarity. VueJS: First Impressions A brief run through of how it was to work with

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