Typical AngularJS workflow and project structure (with Python Flask)


I am pretty new to this whole MV* client-side framework frenzy. It doesn't have to be AngularJS, but I picked it because it feels more natural to me than either Knockout, Ember or Backbone. Anyway what is the workflow like? Do people start with developing a client-side application in AngularJS and then hooking up the back-end to it?

Or the other way around by first building the back-end in Django, Flask, Rails and then attaching an AngularJS app to it? Is there a "right" way of doing it, or is it just a personal preference in the end?

I am also not sure whether to structure my project according to the Flask or AngularJS? community practices.

For example, Flask's minitwit app is structured like so:

|-- minitwit.py
|-- static
   |-- css, js, images, etc...
`-- templates
   |-- html files and base layout

AngularJS tutorial app is structured like this:

|-- app
    `-- css
    `-- img
    `-- js
    `-- lib
    `-- partials
    `-- index.html
|-- scripts
 `-- node.js server and test server files

I could picture a Flask app by itself, and it's fairly easy to see AngularJS app like ToDo List by itself but when it comes to using both of these technologies I don't understand how they work together. It almost seems like I don't need a server-side web-framework when you already have AngularJS, a simple Python web server will suffice. In the AngularJS to-do app for example they use MongoLab to talk to the database using Restful API. There was no need having a web framework on the back-end.

Maybe I am just awfully confused, and AngularJS is nothing more than a fancy jQuery library so I should use just like I would use jQuery in my Flask projects (assuming I change the AngularJS template syntax to something that doesn't conflict with Jinja2). I hope my questions make some sense. I mainly work on the back-end and this client-side framework is an unknown territory for me.

8/18/2017 7:17:54 PM

Accepted Answer

I would start out by organizing the Flask app in the standard structure as follows:

|-- app.py
|-- static
    |-- css
    |-- img
    |-- js
|-- templates

And as btford mentioned, if you are doing an Angular app, you'll want to focus on using Angular client-side templates and stay away from server-side templates. Using render_template('index.html') will cause Flask to interpret your angular templates as jinja templates, so they won't render correctly. Instead, you'll want to do the following:

def index():
    return send_file('templates/index.html')

Note that using send_file() means that the files will be cached, so you might want to use make_response() instead, at least for development:

    return make_response(open('templates/index.html').read())

Afterwards, build out the AngularJS part of your app, modifying the app structure so that it looks like this:

|-- app.py
|-- static
    |-- css
    |-- img
    |-- js
        |-- app.js, controllers.js, etc.
    |-- lib
        |-- angular
            |-- angular.js, etc.
    |-- partials
|-- templates
    |-- index.html

Make sure your index.html includes AngularJS, as well as any other files:

<script src="static/lib/angular/angular.js"></script>

At this point, you haven't yet constructed your RESTful API, so you can have your js controllers return predefined sample data (only a temporary setup). When you're ready, implement the RESTful API and hook it up to your angular app with angular-resource.js.

EDIT: I put together an app template that, though a little more complex that what I've described above, illustrates how one could build an app with AngularJS + Flask, complete with communication between AngularJS and a simple Flask API. Here it is if you want to check it out: https://github.com/rxl/angular-flask

8/2/2013 3:58:46 PM

You can start on either end.

You are right that you probably don't need a full server-side framework with AngularJS. It's typically better to serve static HTML/CSS/JavaScript files, and provide a RESTful API for the back end for the client to consume. One thing that you should probably avoid is mixing server-side templates with AngularJS client-side templates.

If you want to use Flask to serve your files (might be overkill, but you can use it nonetheless) you would copy the contents of "app" from "angular-phonecat" into the "static" folder of "minitwit."

AngularJS is more targeted at AJAX-like applications, whereas flask gives you the ability to do both the older-style web apps as well as create RESTful APIs. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach, so it really depends what you want to do. If you give me some insights, I might be able to make further recommendations.

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