Belitsoft > How to Update Angular

How to Update Angular

To ensure painless Angular updates, it is important to have a strategy in place. This strategy should incorporate a blend of automatic and manual updates, along with thorough performance testing, security vulnerability management, and automated unit testing for the front-end layer. Automated unit tests are critical for quickly identifying and addressing issues caused by updates, which help protect the integrity of the application and minimize disruptions. This approach meets top security and performance standards while addressing modern web development demands. Check out this article for practical insights and strategies to improve your Angular update process and keep your application strong and error-free.

Contents

Why Update Angular?

Regularly updating your chosen framework, such as Angular, is important for several reasons. It helps to address security vulnerabilities, performance issues, and browser compatibility problems.

Incremental updates are easier and less costly to implement compared to large-scale overhauls after long periods of stagnation.

Additionally, keeping web frameworks and tools up to date has non-direct benefits such as improved performance, customer satisfaction, and positive impact on developer productivity and happiness.  

Is it Overwhelming to Upgrade Angular?

Angular follows a predictable release schedule. This regularity allows developers and teams to plan their upgrade activities in advance.

The Angular team communicates clearly about deprecations and removals, usually with several versions' notice before actual removal. This transparency gives developers ample time to adjust their codebases and prevent sudden breaks when updating.

However, upgrading from a significantly outdated version, may require extensive refactoring, testing, and adaptation. The longer there are no updates, the more complex and effortful upgrading becomes. This results from changes in the framework, web standards, and browser technologies.

Even so, opting for an AngularJS to Angular migration is an example of achieving better technology alignment. This migration enables smooth scaling and meets specific requirements. This case study explores the benefits of implementing strategic Angular migration updates for improving app performance and user engagement.

Angular recommends updating major versions one at a time to ensure smooth transitions and compatibility. For instance, if your application is on Angular version 4, upgrade to version 5, then to version 6, and so on. Skipping major versions can lead to missed deprecations, breaking changes, and additional complexity.

Belitsoft offers Angular development services for performance optimization, feature enhancements, and security updates. Contact us for more information on Angular capabilities.

Pre-upgrade checklist

Verify Angular Version Consistency

To ensure the stability and compatibility of your Angular application, it is important to have consistent versions across all @angular packages (like @angular/core, @angular/common, @angular/compiler, etc.) in your package.json. This prevents compatibility issues between the core framework and its related packages.

Confirm CI/CD Pipeline Integrity

Make sure your Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) systems are functioning properly and all tests are passing. This helps identify any issues in your codebase and confirms its stability.

Perform a Preliminary Smoke Test

Run a basic smoke test to verify core functionalities of your application are working as expected, with no errors or warnings in the console. This step verifies the app's stability before applying updates.

Resolve Existing Issues

Fix any outstanding bugs or quality concerns in your code. Upgrading on a clean, issue-free codebase minimizes complications during the update process.

Adhere to the Update Guide

Carefully follow the instructions provided in the Angular Update Guide, proceeding in a sequential and systematic manner through each recommended step.

Prepare for Potential Rollback

Be prepared for potential issues during the update process by having a plan in place and necessary backups to revert to the previous state if needed. It secures application stability in case of a failed update.

Steps to follow Before Updating

Make necessary code updates and preparations before attempting to update your Angular application. 

Namespace Changes

Angular often provides detailed notes on changes to services, modules, or other entities that might have new namespaces. Visual Studio Code (VS Code) offers powerful search capabilities that can simplify the process of updating namespaces across your project. Once you've identified all instances of the outdated namespaces, use the replace feature in VS Code to update them to the new namespaces. 

Rename and Replace Updates

It is necessary to address "Rename and Replace" updates when updating your Angular application for compatibility with newer framework versions. These updates may involve replacing deprecated types, methods, or properties with their new counterparts. For example, one update you might need to make is replacing OpaqueTokens with InjectionTokens, which was required in a transition from one version of Angular to another.

Functional Changes

Handling functional changes due to deprecated features or significant updates in Angular requires a strategic approach. The extent of the required updates depends on how much the application relies on these soon-to-be-removed features. It could range from minor adjustments to significant codebase overhauls.

After updating Angular, you may encounter deprecations, especially with libraries like RxJS, commonly used in Angular applications for reactive programming.  

Angular signals deprecated features, usually one major version ahead of their removal. Follow Angular's blog and other community channels to stay updated on deprecations and new features.

The Angular Update Guide provides insights into planned changes for future versions, allowing for early preparation and resource planning.

Changes in Node or npm versions can also affect how dependencies are installed. After updating these tools, it’s prudent to clear and reinstall node_modules in your project and invalidate the cache on CI servers. 

Incompatible peer dependencies

When upgrading Angular, dealing with incompatible peer dependency errors is a common challenge. It requires careful navigation. These errors occur because Angular and its associated tools and libraries have specific version requirements for compatibility and proper functioning. However, sometimes the installed version does not meet these requirements.

For instance, Angular CLI has a specific TypeScript version requirement. Using a newer version of TypeScript than what Angular CLI expects can cause compatibility issues.

Updating Node 

Angular relies on third-party tools to install your dependencies (npm) and packages (WebPack, Gulp, or Grunt) that are executed in a Node.js environment. Updating Node.js and npm, is crucial for security, performance, and functionality. 

Node.js is maintained in two main branches: the Long Term Support (LTS) version and the Current version. Odd-numbered releases of Node.js are considered more experimental and not meant for production use since they do not transition into LTS. Even-numbered releases, on the other hand, start as Current versions and eventually become LTS versions.

For developers, especially those working on critical or production systems, it's advised to use the LTS version of Node.js. LTS versions receive longer support, including bug fixes and security updates, making them a reliable foundation for development.

The official Node.js website (https://nodejs.org) serves as a key resource for the latest release information, including out-of-band critical security patches, for developers to keep their environments secure and up to date.

Updating Node.js also updates npm (Node Package Manager), as it comes bundled with Node.js. Sometimes, it may be necessary to update npm separately from Node.js due to its independent release schedule. 

Global Npm packages 

For optimal project compatibility, it's recommended to install tools like TypeScript, Webpack, Gulp, or Grunt locally within each project. This practice ensures the use of precise tool versions as defined in the project's package.json, preventing conflicts across different projects.

With npm version 5.2.0 or newer, the npx command allows the execution of local CLI tools and scripts with no global installation. This approach combines the convenience of global commands with the reliability of project-specific versions, minimizing version conflict issues.

While local installations are preferred for project-specific tools, global installations are beneficial for non-project-specific utilities. Tools like n (for Node.js version management) and rimraf (for cross-platform file deletion) benefit from global installation due to their stable nature and broad utility that surpasses individual project dependencies.

Their stability and infrequent updates justify global installation, reducing the likelihood of version conflicts. However, a downside of global installations is the need for regular updates. Using tools that prompt for updates, such as a CLI tool for cloud deployments, users can easily stay up-to-date with the latest versions.

Managing Node.js and npm installations, especially on Windows, can sometimes lead to complications. Therefore, careful package management is important in order to avoid any issues. 

Update Angular

Use Angular Update Guide

Angular simplifies upgrades with a wealth of tools and resources.

A key resource is the Angular Update Guide available at update.angular.io. 

This guide offers personalized instructions for upgrading from any version to the latest one.

It categorizes applications into three complexity levels: Basic, Medium, and Advanced. This way, it can give tailored advice based on your application's complexity and the Angular features and APIs it uses.

Screenshot showing Angular Update Guide
Angular Update Guide
  • Basic: For applications that use Angular in straightforward ways, with little customization or deep API usage.
  • Medium: This is where most applications fall. If your application uses a standard set of Angular features and some third-party libraries, select this option.
  • Advanced: Recommended for applications that leverage deep Angular functionalities, custom behaviors, or deprecated features. 

The Angular Evergreen extension from the Visual Studio Marketplace makes it easy to keep your Angular applications up to date within the Visual Studio Code (VS Code) environment.

Screenshot showing Angular Evergreen Extension
Angular Evergreen

It detects the version of Angular used in your project and compares it with the latest stable and next (pre-release) versions. This allows developers to stay informed about updates and decide if they need to upgrade.

It also highlights upcoming "next" releases for early testing and compatibility checks. These next versions are crucial for identifying potential compatibility issues before a full release.

With this extension, upgrading Angular and npm dependencies is simplified with streamlined commands in the VS Code. This simplicity removes some of the complexity and manual effort typically associated with updating project dependencies.

Automated update of your Angular app

Updating software, including frameworks like Angular, indeed involves risks such as breaking changes, compatibility issues, or unexpected behavior in your application. However, by employing best practices regarding Pre-Upgrade Steps, you can mitigate these risks significantly. 

The Angular CLI (ng update command) automates the upgrade process, handling dependency updates and code adjustments.

A prime example of Angular's versatility in addressing complex challenges is our development of a custom Electronic Healthcare Record (EHR) SaaS. This project showcases how Angular's robust framework can create secure, scalable healthcare applications that improve operational efficiency and data management.

Manual update

Understanding and being prepared to manually update Angular ensures that you can keep your application current, even when automatic tools are not an option. 

Manually updating Angular can be necessary under several circumstances, such as when the Angular CLI automatic update feature is not available, has been ejected from the project, or encounters a bug that prevents its use. 

Validating Updates with Automated Testing

Incorporating automation testing ensures your application meets performance and security standards post-update. This approach complements your update strategy, helping to keep your Angular application efficient and secure.  

Post Update Checklist

Build and Smoke Test

After each update phase, perform a full build of your Angular application and conduct a series of smoke tests to verify that the most important functions of your application work as expected. 

Commit Changes

Regularly commit your changes to version control after completing specific updates or modifications. This practice not only helps in tracking the progress but also facilitates easier rollback or adjustment if new updates introduce issues.

Maintain CI Pipeline Integrity

With each commit, verify your Continuous Integration (CI) pipeline runs successfully and remains "green." 

Adhere to Release-Cycle Procedures

For updates that bring functional changes, it’s essential to follow your organization's release-cycle procedures. This often means engaging in an extensive round of testing, including manual evaluations by a Quality Assurance (QA) team, to validate that the changes meet the quality standards and do not adversely affect other parts of the application.

Incremental Implementation and Deployment

When deploying updates, especially those involving functional alterations, adopt an incremental approach. Implement and release changes one at a time, evaluating the application’s performance and functionality in the production environment after each deployment. This method allows for more controlled updates and easier troubleshooting should issues arise.

Collect and Analyze Performance Data

After deploying your updated Angular application, gather and assess performance metrics compared to pre-update benchmarks. This analysis is crucial for understanding the impact of the update on application performance and identifying areas for improvement.

Testing performance

Before and after updates, evaluate performance to leverage any platform-level enhancements in the new version and confirm the positive impact of the update. Consider assessing performance metrics compared to pre-update benchmarks to identify areas for improvement in comprehensive performance testing

Addressing security vulnerabilities

Keep up-to-date with potential vulnerabilities by following security blogs, advisories, and using tools integrated into version control platforms like GitHub. These tools can alert you to dependencies with known issues. Assess and strengthen your application with professional security testing services

Updating your web server

Regularly update and secure your web server, particularly for live production systems exposed to the internet. 

When using Docker to host your application, specify exact versions of base images to avoid unintended versions. For Node.js-based servers, for example, it's recommended to avoid odd-numbered releases, which are typically considered unstable.

Use minimal setup for your web server, such as minimal-node-webserver, to reduce the attack surface. These setups follow layers of security practices designed to protect your web application.

Ensure you follow security bulletins for IIS, Apache, or Tomcat if your application is hosted on them. 

Coordinate with responsible teams or individuals for timely web server updates, as delays can leave your application vulnerable.

Serve static content (e.g., SPAs) and backend APIs from separate servers to enhance security. This decoupled architecture reduces risk and improves overall security.

Updating the Docker image

After upgrading your application, its dependencies, or introducing new features, update and publish a new Docker image. This ensures that your application remains current and secure in the continuous development and deployment process.

Managing Angular updates through smart planning and advanced tools can enhance app performance and security. It also ensures that your apps remain competitive.

With our expertise in Angular updates, your projects can efficiently leverage the latest features, improving your development workflow. Get in touch with us, and our team will assist with your Angular update efforts, keeping your applications up to date and performing at their best.

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