Structuring a Node.js and AngularJS application


I'm about to attempt my first AngularJS project, and it makes sense to use Node.js for the back end, even though it means learning both AngularJS and Node.js from scratch at the same time.

The first thing I'm trying to get my head around is a good file structure. So far my pure HTML/CSS template has the following directory structure...


( _site is a working directory for PSDs, etc.)

I found an example directory structure for a Node.js/AngularJS app here....

... which suggests the following directory structure.

app.js              --> Application configuration
package.json        --> For npm
public/             --> All of the files to be used in on the client side
  css/              --> CSS files
    app.css         --> Default stylesheet
  img/              --> Image files
  js/               --> JavaScript files
    app.js          --> Declare top-level application module
    controllers.js  --> Application controllers
    directives.js   --> Custom AngularJS directives
    filters.js      --> Custom AngularJS  filters
    services.js     --> Custom AngularJS services
    lib/            --> AngularJS  and third-party JavaScript libraries
        angular.js            --> The latest AngularJS
        angular.min.js        --> The latest minified AngularJS
        angular-*.js          --> AngularJS add-on modules
        version.txt           --> Version number
  api.js            --> Route for serving JSON
  index.js          --> Route for serving HTML pages and partials
  index.jade        --> Main page for the application
  layout.jade       --> Doctype, title, head boilerplate
  partials/         --> AngularJS view partials (partial jade templates)

So, this looks quite good to me (except for the fact that I wouldn't use Jade).

I still have the following questions...

  1. I want to keep all front-end and back-end files separate. This solution puts all the front-end files in the public/ directory which kind of makes sense because most need to be public, but does it make sense to put the SASS and _site folders here? I could just keep them there, but not upload them when I put them into production, but it seems wrong because they shouldn't be public. They also don't belong at root level with all the back-end stuff.

  2. Wouldn't it be better to load AngularJS from a CDN?

  3. Given that the server will only need to deliver one template (the main application template) and all other HTML will be constructed on the front-end wouldn't it make more sense to keep the index.html file static, delete the views folder and create a partials/ folder under public/ like the original AngularJS Seed application does?

I realize that this is all a matter of opinion, and I could technically put them wherever I want, but I'm hoping somebody more experienced than me could advise me of the pitfalls of various directory structures.

12/24/2016 5:46:17 PM

Accepted Answer

1) It usually does make some sense to make saas/less files public as you may want to use client-side less->css conversion when debugging (less.js does that). Not sure what your _site contains however (btw you should use lowercase folder for your project, especially for the public stuff).

2) It is usually a good practice to load AngularJS from Google CDN when in production, using only a local version for development, you could have two separate layouts depending on your environment.

3) Even if client-side rendering is the way to go, you may keep server side layout/views rendering, you will probably need it at some point (admin access, email rendering, etc.). However It can be helpful to use the partials name from AngularJS in the public folder to help avoid confusion between server-side views & client-side partials.

You should clearly go for what seems the most logical thing to do at the current time, you will probably move things around as you get familiar with express.

You should check existing express framework to see how they structure their app. For instance, TowerJS has a pretty clean config folder, however they mix up server-side & client-side code which I personally do not like.

Check this comparaison of NodeJS MVC frameworks to see how others do stuff. However, I would clearly start with vanilla express code in order to be in full control & to understand how things work before over-committing on any of theses frameworks.

1/19/2014 4:00:11 PM

Things are getting easier as time goes on. I've used Yeoman for the AngularJS front-end, and it makes life much easier:

Option 1,

MEAN is an awesome acronym! I prefer the MEAN stack directory structure. Let's use convention people! Just use the directory structure from MEAN is handy too because it throws in all the goodies like Grunt, Bower, etc.

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Option 2, Angular-seed + Express.js

I've searched GitHub for Node.js/AngularJS projects (probably not hard enough) and not seen anything really great for a starting directory structure. So I've merged the Node.js Express.js (running Express.js from the command line using neither EJS nor Jade/Pug) skeleton with the angular-seed project (clone it from GitHub). Then I moved a ton of stuff around. Here's what I came up with:

  • developer - stuff only the developer(s) will use. Does not need to be deployed.
    • config - karma configuration files and others.
    • scripts - developer scripts (build, test, and deploy)
    • test - e2e and unit tests.
  • logs
  • node_modules - this Stack Overflow answer recommended to put this in Git. However this may now be obsolete.
  • public - This comes almost straight from the angular-seed app folder.
    • css, img, js, lib, partials - pretty obvious and nice and short.
  • routes - Node.js routes.
  • server - server-side "shebang" Node.js programs, daemons, cron programs, whatever.
  • server.js - renamed from app.js just to make it more obvious this is server side.

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