Learn how to spin-up an AJAX-driven single-page app by leveraging Angular.s Routes

Single-page applications have become a common project for many front-end web developers. The key components to any such endeavor is the ability to intercept hyperlinks, the updating of the DOM without actually refreshing the page, and support for deep-linking.

Anyone who has attempted even the most basic single-page application knows that managing this kind of interaction on the client-side can be tedious. Angular.js provides a significant level of abstraction when it comes to these kinds of tasks. In a few dozen lines of code, you can quite easily spin-up an AJAX-driven single-page app by leveraging Routes & Views.

Example # 1

In Example # 1, we have added the ng-app directive to the BODY tag. The value is “mainRouter”, which means there must be an Angular module by that name available. We will create this module shortly.

Example # 2

In Example # 2, we have two hyperlinks. Note that the values provided for each element’s HREF attribute are preceded by a hash. This allows Angular to intercept the hyperlink, process the request and prevent the page from following the URL (which would result in an error).

Example # 3

In Example # 3, we have an empty element with an ng-view directive. This is the element into which Angular will inject the HTML templates that we specify.

Example # 4

In Example # 4, we have created an Angular module. This is done by assigning a variable to the return value of a call to the angular.module() method. This method takes two arguments: the name of our module as a string (required), and an array of dependencies (optional). Although the second parameter is optional, because these dependencies are provided via an array, if you do not specify any dependencies, you must still include an empty array.

Example # 5

In Example # 5, we configure our router module by calling it the config() method. This method takes an array as an argument. The first element of the array is the $routeProvider object (which we will use shortly), and the name of a function that will execute our configuration code. It is perfectly acceptable (and quite common) to provide an inline anonymous function for the second parameter. I have specified a function expression instead, simply to keep the example code straightforward and easy to understand.

Example # 6

In Example # 6, we have a function named configFunction(). This function expression is passed to the config() method of our myRouter module. It takes the $routeProvider object as its sole argument. The real action takes place as we make a call to the $routeProvide’s when() method. This method expects two arguments: the URL to watch for, and an object. The properties of that object allow us to tell Angular a number of things about what should happen when the specified URL is requested by the user.

The specified URL is not a fully-qualified web address that starts with “http://”. Instead, we specify a path that is relative to the current page. The general approach is that this path should resemble a RESTful API address.


  • http://www.some-domain.com/users (would return a list of users)
  • http://www.some-domain.com/users/1 (would return the user with the ID of “1”)
  • http://www.some-domain.com/users/add (would allow you to add a user)
  • http://www.some-domain.com/users/remove (would allow you to remove a user)
  • Etc…

A discussion of RESTful web services is out of the scope of this article. If you are not familiar with that topic, there are a few links at the bottom of this page that you might find helpful.

In the case of Example # 6, we have told Angular that when the user clicks a link that points to: “/hello”, two things should happen:

  1. The element with the ngView directive should have the HTML string assigned to the “template” property injected into it (i.e.<h1>{{message}}</h1>)
  2. The inline anonymous function that is assigned to the “controller” property should be executed.

A few things to note about these two actions that Angular takes:

In the HTML string that is injected into the element with the ngView directive, there is a set of double-curly-braces. This functions as a client-side template. When the specified HTML is injected into the DOM, the value of the “message” variable is inserted inside of that set of double-curly-braces. That value is provided by the function assigned to the “controller” property of this object passed to the $routeProvide’s when() method. That function takes the $scope object as an argument, and inside of the function, the string: “Hello!” is assigned to the “message” property of the $scope object.

Note: Once again, please note that this function expression could have been defined inline as an anonymous function when we made the call to myRouter.config() in Example # 5. The reason that I chose to break it out like that is because it made it easier to demonstrate the critical pieces of code, while keeping them fairly simple.

Example # 7

In Example # 7, we have added another route: “/goodbye”. So when the user requests that URL, the exact same actions taken in Example # 6 will be performed by Angular, with the only difference being the value of $scope.message: “GoodBye!”.

Example # 8

In Example # 8, we have the full code for our working example.

HERE IS THE LINK FOR OUR FULL WORKING EXAMPLE # 8: http://examples.kevinchisholm.com/javascript/angular/routes/part-1.html

How to Demo: In the blue box, you’ll notice two hyperlinks: “Hello” and “Goodbye”. Click either one of those links. When you click either link, you’ll notice that the appropriate HTML is injected into the DOM on the right side of the page. Note, as well, that in your browser’s address bar, “#hello” and “#goodbye” are appended to the URL. This is Angular’s way of providing support for deep-linking. The web page you are on never refreshes, but the hash portion of the URL changes. If you were to copy and paste http://examples.kevinchisholm.com/javascript/angular/routes/part-1.html#/hello or http://examples.kevinchisholm.com/javascript/angular/routes/part-1.html#/goodbye into another browser, your single-page app would “link” to that desired behavior. What is really happening is that Angular is intercepting any request that comes after the hash, and taking the actions that we specified in Examples # 6 and # 7. If you were to remove the hash from either URL, you would receive an error because the URL http://examples.kevinchisholm.com/javascript/angular/routes/part-1.html/goodbye is not valid.


In this article, we discussed Angular.js routes, a powerful feature that allows you to create fully-functioning single-page web apps with minimal effort. We talked about how to create an Angular module, configure that module, and call the $routeProvider.when() method in order to tell Angular how to intercept specific URL requests without refreshing the page, and inject the appropriate HTML into the DOM. We also discussed how this feature is based on RESTful URL syntax.

Helpful Links for Angular.js Routes and RESTful Web services

Angular.js Routes




RESTful Web services




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