Publish Angular application with Angular CLI and AspDotNet Core

Publish Angular application with Angular CLI and AspDotNet Core

A few months back I showed how to bootstrap an Angular application using Angular CLI. Apart from bootstrapping and serving, Angular CLI is also capable of packing the application and get it ready to be published in order for us to serve it on our own webserver. Today we will see how the process of publishing can be done in three steps

1. Prepare the project for packing
2. Create a host
3. Publish the application

1. Prepare the project for packing

In order to ease the understanding, we start by separating our client Angular application and Host application.
The client will go into /client while the host into /host. Here a preview of how the structure will look like:

- MyApplication
    | - /.git
    | - /client
            | - /e2e
            | - /node_modules
            | - /src
            | - ...
    | - /host (nothing here yet)
            | - /Host
            | - MyApplication.Host.sln

In order to create this structure we can start by creating the main application folder /MyApplication. Then we navigate to it and execute the following command:

ng new MyApplication -sg -sc -dir client

Where -sg stands for skip-git, -sc for skip-commit and lastly we change the directory of the files to /client.
Next from the root we can git init to create the git files. For the .gitignore, we can copy it from another project like this collection of .gitignore from github https://github.com/github/gitignore.

Now that we have proper folder separation we can build using ng build from within the client which creates a /dist folder with the application packaged for publishing.

The output folder can be modified in Angular CLI configuration, we will do it later. For now we can leave it as is.

2. Create the host

Under the host folder, we can create an empty AspNetCore application. Don’t forget untick Create directory for solution.
This application will be our webserver hosting our Angular application.
When creating the application, it auto-creates an /wwwroot folder. This is the root of the web application. All files inside this folder will be served by the host.
This comes on point since what Angular CLI builds is a set of static files; html and js files, therefore all we need to do is to have the /client build the content of its /dist straight into /wwwroot of the host and have the host serves those static files.

To serve the files, we can make use of the AspNetCore.StaticFiles library which comes preinstalled with AspNetCore.All when creating an AspNetCore project by registering it on our app builder pipeline:

public void Configure(IApplicationBuilder app, IHostingEnvironment env)
{
    app.UseFileServer();
}

UseFileServer will serve the /wwwroot and find the index.html file.

AspNetCore.StaticFiles comes with multiple extensions for the app builder which are useful in different scenarios:

  • UseDefaultFiles will find index.html
  • UseStaticFiles will serve /wwwroot, the files will be accessible by direct url
  • UseDirectoryBrowser will enable browsing on the directory
  • UseFileServer will combine all three where browsing needs to be explicitly set to true

More info on the official documentation of AspNetCore here.

In our case all we need is UseFileServer. We are now ready with a working client and host. What we need to do next is prepare for publishing.

3. Publish the application

First thing we need to do is to setup Angular CLI to write the /dist to the /wwwroot folder of our host.
This can be done by modifying the outDir in the .angular-cli.json to output to /wwwroot:

{
    "apps": [
        {
            "ourDir": "../host/Host/wwwroot"
        }
    ]
}

The .angular-cli.json schema can be found on Angular CLI github here.

Now that we have that we can ng build, it will compile pack and copy to the wwwroot. Then we can dotnet publish on the host which will pack every library together with the /wwwroot is the publish folder. And that’s it we have our package ready.

To run it, navigate to the /publish folder of your AspNetCore app and execute dotnet Host.dll. And that’s it, we have a running hosted Angular application!

Conclusion

Today we saw how we could publish and host an Angular application using Angular CLI functionalities together with an AspNetCore host application. The steps can quickly be implemented and automated for continuous delivery. Hope you liked this post as much as I like writting it. Sse you next time!

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