Some notes on Angular 2 AoT mode with Webpack, Sass & ngtools

Earlier this week I set out to convert a few of my Angular 2 apps to use Ahead-of-time (AoT) compilation. I’ve just been to AngularConnect and heard about a project named “@ngtools/webpack” (video here) which supposedly allows you to use the same build tools that the angular-cli project uses, even if you don’t use the cli (which is the case with my stuff right now).

So I eagerly searched out@ngtools/webpack on npm and found this:

The @ngtools/webpack npm listing at the moment

No readme, no repo, nothing.

So I took a few (dark, frustrating) hours sniffing around and eventually got my apps working. When I mentioned this on Twitter there seemed to be a lot of interest, so I thought I’d quickly note down the things I found that helped me to implement AoT in my apps.

Note: This is not an exhaustive tutorial. I fully expect the project authors to document all this at some point, and they will do a much better job than I could. So these are just some notes to point you in the right direction. You’ll have to roll your sleeves up too, okay?

What You Need to Know

Here’s what I found which lead me to figure it all out. Note: I’m on Angular 2.0.2 at this time.

  1. If you’ve not already, read the docs on AoT. This will tell you the basic requirements and concepts.
  2. The @ngtools/webpack project does not have its own repo. It is located here in the angular-cli repo. The readme is here.
  3. The key to putting it all together was this example app, also hidden deep within the angular-cli repo. Study it carefully. Between the webpack.config.js, package.json & tsconfig.json, it actually contains everything you need to know.
  4. You need to update to TypeScript 2.
  5. You need to update to Webpack 2. This will probably involve a few changes to your webpack.config.js file, but Webpack 2 is actually very good at instructing you on what is broken. Just read the advice in the command line.
  6. You cannot use require('..') to load your templates or styles in AoT mode. You’ll need to convert to templateUrl and styleUrls. Don’t worry though, the @ngtools/webpack plugin will handle the Sass files automatically. For things to keep working when developing in JiT mode, you’ll need angular2-template-loader.
  7. I had some trouble with the path to the ngfactory code when compiling with ngc: Can't resolve './../path/to/app/app.module.ngfactory' This seems related to this issue. The solution for me was to define the genDir in the webpack config rather than the tsconfig.js file.

My ng2-pagination project now includes a demo app which is set up to run in JiT mode for dev, and AoT mode for distribution. Here is the webpack config file.


Chrome timeline for ng2-pagination demo app, JiT mode.


Chrome timeline for ng2-pagination demo app, AoT mode.


Even knowing the above, you will run into snags and issues along the way. Just hopefully fewer than I did. Maybe some of the above is incorrect; without official documentation, it can be difficult to know. Seems to work so far though. I expect that in the coming weeks, this article will become obsolete.

Sharpen you debugging and Googling skills and dive in. Good luck!