A base file structure for an AngularJS app using Gulp and Browserify

Angular Core Dependency: ~1.4.2

Module License: MIT

Added by: Sam Deering





Stars: 69

Watchers: 69

Forks: 23


Ben Scott
Ben Scott

Module Description

AngularJS-Gulp-Browserify Starter App

This Angular starter app is built with best practices in mind. The folder structure is intended to be different than the standard official AngularJS application. The application architecture follows modern design conventions from the proposal outlined here:

Files are grouped structurally (each section of the app being self contained with its own styles, views, controllers, and directives) instead of functionally (all views in one folder, all styles in one folder, etc). In practice, the basic file structure should look something like this:

--- /assets
------ /images
------ /icons
--- /common
------ /directives
------ /constants
------ /elements (common page elements like footer and header)
------ /resources
------ /services
------ /styles
------ common.js (common module requirements)
------ common.less
--- /modules
------ index.js
------ MainController.js
------ MainController.spec.js (controller unit tests)
------ modules.less
------ /module1 (ex: home)
--------- index.js (module definition)
--------- home.html (view)
--------- home.less (styles)
--------- HomeController.js (Controller inherits from MainController)
--------- HomeController.spec.js
--------- homeDirective.js (view definition)
--------- homeRoutes.js (route definitions)
------ /module2
--------- /sub-module1
--------- /sub-module2
--------- index.js (module definition - sub-modules are required in here)
--------- module.html
--------- module.less
--------- ModuleController.js
--------- ModuleController.spec.js
--------- moduleDirective.js
--------- moduleRoutes.js (route definitions and config options for nested sub-modules)
--- app.js
--- app.less
--- appConfig.js (main config file - no routes are defined here)
--- index.html
/dist (this is the gulp pipeline file output destination)
/libs (bower components install here)
/node_modules (npm installations go here)

Each Module is self-contained and the js files are exported, combined, and minified through Browserify. Every LESS file from each module should be imported into the master app.less file in the root app directory. Likewise, each LESS file from a sub-module should be imported into the main modules.less file. The main app.less file is then processed by Gulp and a css file with a source map is pushed to the dist folder.

Setup Instructions

NOTE: This starter kit assumes that you already have bower ( installed locally. If you don't, then run the following command first: npm install -g bower

  1. Node Modules and Bower Components are not included in this repository to keep it light weight. After cloning or pulling changes from this repository, make sure to run the following command in terminal: npm install

Bower dependencies should install automatically at the end of the NPM install process. If the dependencies don't install correctly you may need to manually run bower install as well.

  1. Once everything is installed all you have to do is run gulp build and your new server will be running at http://localhost:5000 (you can edit the port in the gulpFile). To speed up gulp times, the standard gulp task does not include copying over static files. Using the standard gulp task will be useful for most cases, but if you need to rebuild the whole dist folder, use gulp build.

Working with this application structure

  1. All pipeline, automation, and testing dependencies are in the node_modules folder (installed using npm), while all third party application libraries are located in the libs folder (installed using bower).

  2. Any additional third party modules and plugins should always be installed automatically whenever possible using npm install module_name or bower install module_name with the --save or --save-dev suffixes to save the dependencies in the package.json and bower.json files.

  3. All development takes place in the app folder. Production files are generated with gulp automatically and pushed to the dist folder (it will automatically be created the first time the gulp task is run in terminal post-installation).

  4. The gulpfile.js is clearly commented, defining each task that takes place during pipeline automation. Every file change is watched and new files are automatically pushed to the dist folder. All files are concatenated into individual files for use on production servers.

Development, Test, Production, and Deployment

DEV: During development you should be using the standard gulp task (unless you need to rebuild your dist files, at which point you can run gulp build).

TEST: Contrary to the traditional unit testing approach of putting all tests in a /test folder, unit test files are included inside of each module alongside the files that they are testing. Each test file has a .spec.js file type (ex: MainController.spec.js). To run the tests you can simply use gulp test. It will run the development server as well as a karma server so you can develop your code and your tests at the same time. Karma will watch for code changes and run the tests each time a file is saved.

PROD: However, when you are ready for production, you can run gulp prod to run the production build pipeline, which will minify and concatenate your files. Production files are still sent to the /dist folder. There is a server.js file in the root directory that runs a basic Express server that you can use when you deploy to your production server environment. Just run node server locally from the root directory to try it out.

Routes, Controllers and TemplateURLs

NOTE: When creating controllers and services/factories, always follow the proper naming convention of starting with an uppercase letter. Everything else can use camelCase.

  1. Default AngularJS applications tend to use the angular-route plugin that makes use of a main ng-view directive in the index.html file and standard href tags for links. This application is using the angular-ui-router plugin for better route nesting and greater customizability. It makes use of a main ui-view directive instead of ng-view and uses an sref tag for links instead of the normal href tag. Check out the official documentation for more details:

  2. Due to the modularity of this application structure, standard routing parameters aren't being used. In most examples, routes make use of TemplateURL and controller like so:

    .state('home', {
      url: '/',
      templateUrl: './modules/home/home.html',
      controller: './modules/home/HomeController.js'

In this application, each module is set up as an injectible directive with its own controller. So instead of the above example, the home module has a directive called homeView that can be injected into the HTML like this:
<div home-view></div> (camelcased directives always have to be changed to dashed names when in the HTML). As such, our route config makes use of the template parameter instead of templateURL. So the routes look like this instead:

    .state('home', {
      url: '/',
      template: '<div home-view></div>'

As you can see, it's simpler and cleaner, calling only an HTML <div></div> tag as a template and leaving everything else contained within the module. This way, if anything changes in the file structure, the routes won't need to be updated.

As we add more options and configuration to each state, further changes to the $stateProvider function becomes necessary, so the current configuration looks like this:

var home = {
    name: 'home',
    url: '/',
    template: '<div home-view></div>'
var module2 = {
    name: 'module2',
    url: '/module2',
    template: '<div module2-view></div>'


With this approach, it's very easy to keep every state object clean and easy to understand.

You can see an example of nested views and sub-modules in this application's file architecture:

Adding Sub-Modules

  1. Create a new folder in the app/modules/ directory with the following files:
moduleNameRoutes.js (you can also include a separate config file if you need more configuration options)
  1. Change the file contents accordingly. Follow the app/modules/home files as reference. Make sure to change the naming convention in each file.

  2. Add a new state to the moduleNameRoutes file. For example:

var home = {
    name: 'home',
    url: '/',
    template: '<div home-view></div>'
var moduleName = {
    name: 'moduleName',
    url: '/moduleName',
    template: '<div moduleName-view></div>'

  1. Open the parent index.js file (such as the modules/index.js file) and add a requirement for the new module. Make sure to require the entire module folder (browserify will look for the index.js file and use that file as the entry point for all other module dependencies).

Your end result should look something like this:

'use strict';


module.exports = angular.module('modules',

After those steps are complete, you should be able to see the contents of your new module at the URL you specified in step 3.

NOTE: This same process applies to sub-modules, except you will treat the module directory as the root path, create a moduleRoutes.js file where you will define module-specific states and options, and then require the sub-module in the module's index.js file. You could actually do this with the main modules directory, and use it to "require" all of your modules instead of app.js and simply call require('./modules').name instead of require('./modules/moduleName').name. It's all up to you and how deep you want to go with the modularity.

Adding Third Party Vendor JS and CSS files to your app

NOTE: As of version 1.2 of this project, the behaviour of the vendor.js file has changed.

Instead of bloating the index.html file with a list of scripts and link tags, all CSS and Javascript files from Vendors are bundled and concatenated into single vendor.css and vendor.js files using the Gulp pipeline. To add vendor files to your workflow, all you have to do is access the Gulpfile.js file and add the relative path to the vendor file (found in the libs or node_modules directories) to the appropriate location in the "File Paths" section.

  • For CSS files, add the path to the VendorCSS workflow.
  • For JS files, add the path to the VendorJS workflow.

The vendor.js contains uses browserify to bundle all of the third party libraries installed via npm install or bower install into a single javascript file that is separate from the main bundle.js file. The bundle.js file is only for your application code. You aren't necessarily required to use the vendor.js file and you can bundle everything into a single bundle.js file, but by doing so you will miss out on the significant speed improvements that a separated vendor.js file provides.

While the bundle.js file is your continuously evolving application, the vendor.js file is largely static and unchanging (except when you update third party modules or add new ones). As such, your bundle.js file can remain signficiantly smaller in file size, and thus improves the speed of your browserify bundling.


This project is open source so collaboration is welcome. If you see a way to improve something in this project, please feel free to open a Pull Request to the develop branch so we can discuss your code.

Learning Resouces


Module stats last updated: 2017-02-11 16:00:09

Disclaimer: Some data on this page may have been gathered from the authors GitHub respository. If you see any mistakes or outdated information please let us know. Thanks!