Although setting an ng-app directive on the HTML element makes for quick and easy Angular.js boot-strapping, there may be times when you’ll want to initiate that process manually.

In an earlier blog post, we learned that boot-strapping an Angular Application is as simple as setting an ng-app directive on the HTML element, and then adding a script tag that will inject Angular.js into the page. Technically, we can set the ng-app directive on any element in the page, and we can even set it on multiple elements and provide the appropriate values for each directive, so that Angular knows which module will control which portion of the page.

While this kind of declarative architecture is both elegant and efficient, there may be times when you want to boot-strap Angular.js yourself. A common scenario might be one in which you want to have the initial web page render with no application-specific markup, inject the appropriate markup into the page, and then boot the application. This allows you to run any pre-application logic you need, and even decide on which markup to preset first, based on variable such as the URL path, the presence of a cookie, or some other condition.

While some might argue that this could be better handled by Angular Routes and Views, keep in mind that we are talking about tasks we want to run before Angular is even boot-strapped. So, the challenge is: “How can I boot-strap Angular.js manually?”

Fortunately, the process of boot-strapping Angular manually is fairly simple.

The Two Basic Steps Are:

1) Create an Angular module

2) Call the angular.bootstrap method, passing it two arguments: A) An element that the module will manage, and B) The name of the module that will manage that element (and all descendant elements)

Example # 1:

In Example # 1, we have the base HTML for our examples. For the sake of brevity, we are focusing on only the DOM elements that interest us. I’ll assume you understand that there are elements such as DOCTYPE, HTML HEAD and BODY, which make up a basic web page, as well as SCRIPT tags that inject jQuery and Angular, etc.


When you view the link for Example # 1, you’ll see that although Angular was injected into the page using a SCRIPT tag in the HEAD section, it has not booted yet. This is evidenced by the fact that the {{myData}} template has not been parsed, and the actual curly braces appear in the page, which is not the desired effect. What we should see is an empty text box, and as you type in the textbox, whatever you have typed appears where the {{myData}} template is.

Example # 2:

In Example # 2, we create a variable named “myMod”. This variable will hold a new Angular module. We create the module by calling the angular.module method, and passing it two arguments:

A) The name of our module: ‘myApp’

B) An empty array

The empty array could be used for dependency injection, which is beyond the scope of this article. We don’t have any dependencies, but even so, the empty array is required.

Example # 3:

In Example # 3, we call the angular.bootstrap method, passing it two arguments:

A) The DOM element which will be managed by a module

B) The name of the module that will manage that element

In this example, we kept it simple and passed a reference to the BODY element, using jQuery. We could have specified the HTML element, or a more deeply-nested element in our page such as $(‘main .appContainer’), for example.

Example # 4:

In Example # 4, we have finally boot-strapped our Angular application. The combination of these two expressions was all that was needed in order to get Angular to start managing our DOM. To help emphasize the demonstration, we will wrap all of our code in a function, and execute that function when the button in our markup is executed.

Example # 5:


In Example # 5, we have wrapped all of our code in a function named: “bootAngular()”. We then created a click-event handler for the button in our markup (i.e. #bootAngular). When this button is clicked, the function bootAngular() is executed, and the button is disabled. When the bootAngular() function executes, our Angular boot-strapping code is executed, and Angular is boot-strapped.


How to demo this code:

When you view the link for Example # 2, you’ll notice that on page load, the {{myData}} template appears in the page. This is not what we want. It happens because while Angular has been injected into the page, it has not been boot-strapped. When you click the button labled: “Boot Angular”, our code executes, Anuglar is boot-strapped, the {{myData}} template disappears, and as we type in the text-box, whatever we type appears where the {{myData}} template was displayed. This is because Angular now manages that portion of the page. It has created a data-binding to the data: “myData” because it parsed the ng-model directive in the HTML, and whenever that data changes, the {{myData}} template is updated accordingly.


In this article we learned how to manually boot-strap Angular. We learned how to create an Angular module, and then pass that module to the angular.bootstrap() method. We also learned that we pass a reference to the DOM element which we would like Angular to manage. This simple two-step process is all that is needed to boot-strap Angular. While the example provided is very basic, it illustrates the simplicity with which Angular can be manually boot-strapped.



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