What is AOT compilation in Angular?

An In-depth Look at Ahead-of-Time Compilation in Angular

Angular is widely known for its efficiency and scalability, and one of its key features contributing to this is Ahead-of-Time (AOT) Compilation. To fully understand this feature, let's break apart what it does and how it contributes to Angular's functionality.

Understanding Ahead-of-Time Compilation

AOT Compilation is a process that compiles your Angular HTML and TypeScript code into efficient JavaScript code during the build phase before the web browser downloads and runs that code. This method is a contrast to Just-in-Time (JIT) Compilation, Angular's default compilation technique, which compiles your app at runtime, right before it runs in the user's browser.

The main advantage of AOT Compilation over JIT is the fact that it does not require downloading the Angular compiler. This makes your application load much faster. With AOT, we can also catch template errors during the build phase itself, which is much earlier in the development process, hence, less costly.

Practical Usage of AOT Compilation

While the Angular CLI uses the AOT compiler by default for production builds, you might want to use it manually. Here is how to do it:

  1. First, ensure that the @angular/compiler-cli is installed as it includes the AOT compiler.
  2. Next, add a TypeScript configuration file, named tsconfig-aot.json, to your project folder.
  3. Finally, compile by passing in your project's tsconfig.json file using the ngc command. If successful, this will create an AOT-compiled version of your application.
    ngc -p tsconfig-aot.json

Best Practices for AOT Compilation

Using AOT Compilation comes with certain considerations:

  • Be cautious about specifying function calls inside your templates. The AOT compiler only supports some limited forms of function calls.
  • AOT compiler discards any unused code while generating the final bundles, hence, you need to ensure all your necessary code is reachable.
  • It is recommended to use the Router with AOT compilation as it can then generate component factories that can be bootstrapped.

The AOT compiler is a powerful aspect of Angular that improves user experience through faster rendering and increased responsiveness. Even though getting started with AOT compilation may require some additional setup and understanding, the improved performance in production environment is well worth the effort.

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