AngularJS: Loader

What happens when a user visits a CiviCRM-Angular page? For example, let's consider this URL:

  • https://example.org/civicrm/a/#/caseType

Broadly speaking, two things happen:

  1. (Server-side) CiviCRM processes the request for civicrm/a. It displays a web-page with all your Angular modules -- such as ngRoute, crmAttachment, crmCaseType, crmUi, and so on.
  2. (Client-side) AngularJS processes the HTML/JS/CSS. It finds that the module crmCaseType includes a route for #/caseType and loads the appropriate HTML template.

The client-side behavior is well-defined by Angular ngRoute. We'll explore the server-side in greater depth because that is unique to the CiviCRM-Angular integration.

Caution: Discusses new/experimental interfaces

Some elements of this document have been around since CiviCRM v4.6 and should remain well-supported. Other elements are new circa v4.7.21 and are still flagged experimental.

Library of modules

The CiviCRM-Angular loader needs a list of available AngularJS modules. This list depends on your system configuration (e.g. which CiviCRM extensions are enabled). To view the current list, run cv:

$ cv ang:module:list
For a full list, try passing --user=[username].
| name              | basePages   | requires                                                                           |
| angularFileUpload | civicrm/a   |                                                                                    |
| bw.paging         | (as-needed) |                                                                                    |
| civicase          | (as-needed) | crmUi, crmUtil, ngRoute, angularFileUpload, bw.paging, crmRouteBinder, crmResource |
| crmApp            | civicrm/a   |                                                                                    |
| crmAttachment     | civicrm/a   | angularFileUpload, crmResource                                                     |
| crmAutosave       | civicrm/a   | crmUtil                                                                            |
| crmCaseType       | civicrm/a   | ngRoute, ui.utils, crmUi, unsavedChanges, crmUtil, crmResource                     |

Tip: More options for cv ang:module:list

Use --columns to specify which columns to display. Ex:

$ cv ang:module:list --columns=name,ext,extDir

Use --out to specify an output format. Ex:

$ cv ang:module:list --out=json-pretty

Use --user to specify a login user. This may reveal permission-dependent modules. Ex:

$ cv ang:module:list --user=admin

Under-the-hood, this library of modules is built via hook_civicrm_angularModules, e.g.

 * Implements hook_civicrm_angularModules.
function foobar_civicrm_angularModules(&$angularModules) {
  $angularModules['myBigAngularModule'] = array(
    'ext' => 'org.example.foobar',
    'basePages' => array('civicrm/a'),
    'requires' => array('crmUi', 'crmUtils', 'ngRoute'),
    'js' => array('ang/myBigangularModule/*.js'),
    'css' => array('ang/myBigangularModule/*.css'),
    'partials' => array('ang/myBigangularModule'),

Tip: Generating skeletal code with civix

In practice, one usually doesn't need to implement this hook directly. Instead, generate skeletal code with civix. For details, see AngularJS: Quick Start.

Default base-page

CiviCRM includes a "base-page" named civicrm/a. By default, this page includes the core AngularJS files as well as all the modules in the library.

The page is generated with a PHP class, AngularLoader, using logic like this:

$loader = new \Civi\Angular\AngularLoader();

The load() function determines the necessary JS/CSS/HTML/JSON resources and loads them on the page. This will include:

  • Any AngularJS modules explicitly listed in setModules(...). (Ex: crmApp)
  • Any AngularJS modules with matching basePages. (Ex: The value civicrm/a is specified by both setPageName(...) [above] and myBigAngularModule [above].)
  • Any AngularJS modules transitively required by the above.

What makes civicrm/a special?

When declaring a module, the property basePages will default to array('civicrm/a'). In other words, if you don't specify otherwise, all modules are loaded on civicrm/a.

How does load() output the <script> tag(s)?

load() uses CRM_Core_Resources to register JS/CSS files.

Other base-pages

Loading all Angular modules on one page poses a trade-off. On one hand, it warms up the caches and enables quick transitions between screens. On the other hand, the page could become bloated with modules that aren't actually used.

If this is a concern, then you can create new base-pages which are tuned to a more specific use-case. For example, suppose we want to create a page which only has the CiviCase administrative UI.

  1. Create a skeletal CiviCRM page:

    $ civix generate:page CaseAdmin civicrm/caseadmin
  2. Edit the new PHP file and update the run() function. Create an AngularLoader to load all the JS/CSS files:

    public function run() {
      $loader = new \Civi\Angular\AngularLoader();
        'defaultRoute' => '/caseType',

    Initializing AngularJS

    In this example, we called useApp(). This automatically boots AngularJS on the client side by outputting the HTML snippet <div ng-app="crmApp">. This is suitable for a simple, standalone base-page.

    If you want to control the AngularJS boot, then omit the call to useApp(). Instead, read the AngularJS Bootstrap Guide and define your own boot code.

  3. Flush the cache

    $ cv flush
  4. Visit the new page. (The command below will lookup the URL in a Drupal 7 site.)

    $ cv url 'civicrm/caseadmin/#/caseType'

Embedding Angular in other contexts

In the example, we created a new, standalone page. But you can use AngularLoader in other ways -- eg, you might listen for hook_civicrm_pageRun and embed Angular onto a pre-existing, non-Angular page. Some extensions do this -- though it remains to be seen whether this is wise.