How to keep up with Angular updates

Angular is a robust and feature-rich JavaScript framework that is widely used to develop modern web applications. In case you have never dealt with it before, it would be at least informative to read our Angular Introduction blogpost to get acquainted with the framework and understand its benefits.

As any constantly expanding technology, Angular runs more effectively with the latest updates and changes which are regularly released to ensure that your applications remain secure, performant, optimised and future proofed. The latest Angular 17 version released in Nov 2023 brings a lot of excitement to the web development community, as it promises to push the boundaries of what's possible in modern web applications.

In this blog post we'll explore some strategies for keeping up with Angular updates. Using this information you may balance proper application performance and dev team workload planning.

Why should you upgrade?

Before we get into how to upgrade to the latest version of Angular let's quickly recap on all the why’s.

  1. Increased Productivity of your team: The latest Angular version offers several tools and features that can help improve productivity, including improved code reusability and easier debugging. This can help your development team work more efficiently, which can save time and reduce costs.
  2. Competitive Advantage: Upgrading to the latest Angular version can give your business a competitive advantage by enabling you to offer new features and functionality that your competitors may not have. This can help you differentiate your business and attract new customers.
  3. Upgraded Security: Upgrading to the latest Angular version can improve the security of your application, which is important for protecting your business and your customers' data. This can help build trust with your customers and improve your brand reputation.

From Angular version 17 and beyond

The latest versions of Angular starting from version 14 trend towards being less opinionated and more lightweight. For example, since version 14, a Standalone API has been introduced in preview mode, which makes it possible to avoid ngModules or make them totally optional. This has led to significant simplification of Angular applications.

Angular v15 introduced a stable Standalone API and additional features that enabled building applications in a new fashion. Along with this release, several developer ergonomic features were introduced, such as improved debugging capabilities and performance enhancements that save application build time.

The release of Angular 16 revolutionised the world of web application development, offering new possibilities for innovation and pushing the boundaries of what's possible in software design. Angular 16 makes building applications even more modular and efficient enabling better user experiences. With simplified lazy-loading and innovations like Signals - a new reactive system with built-in interoperability to RxJS - it will be possible to build applications that use little or no RxJS, simplifying the Angular framework adoption.

The latest major release of Angular v17 takes things even further. One of the most notable enhancements is the introduction of new declarative Control Flow Syntax, which offers an intuitive and ergonomic way to handle complex conditional rendering in templates. Another new feature is View Transitions API integrated into Angular Router providing a framework-native way to handle view transitions and building modern web experiences. Additionally, Angular v17 brings significant improvements to Server-Side Rendering (SSR), this is a total game-changer that brings even better application performance and a smoother development experience. These advancements, along with the continuous efforts to refine the developer experience, highlights Angular's dedication to creating a developer-friendly ecosystem that simplifies the process of building sophisticated, efficient and modern web applications.. More details about the new features and innovations of Angular 17 officially announced by the Angular Team on the official Angular Blog

By leveraging the advanced capabilities of Angular, clients can achieve superior application performance and enhanced user experiences, resulting in increased engagement and improved business outcomes.

Now once we discover all the why’s lets move to the how’s.

How to upgrade Angular versions

Understanding the Angular Release Cycle is essential for staying up to date with the latest changes and features. New major versions are consistently released every six months. As many other software teams around, Angular team follows a semantic versioning system, which means that each major release comes with significant changes that may require some modification in your codebase. By understanding the release cycle, you can prepare for upcoming updates and ensure that your codebase is optimised to take advantage of new features.

In these cases, it's important to ensure that the version you're using is still receiving Long-Term Support (LTS).

Risk Features Upgrade Path
Major High Significant upgrade scripts / refactor code / modify tests
Minor Medium Small upgrade scripts
Patch Low No upgrade core packages

LTS versions are provided with critical bug fixes, security updates, and patches for a longer period of time than non-LTS versions. By using an LTS version, you can ensure that your application remains secure and functional while you work on upgrading to a newer version.

When considering an LTS version, it's important to note that not all of them are created equal.

For example, AngularJS 1.x is no longer supported and is not receiving any updates, including security patches.

On the other hand, Angular 2+ LTS versions, such as Angular 15, and 16, are still receiving security updates and patches.

Version Status Released Active ends LTS ends
^17.0.0 Active Nov 8, 2023 May 8, 2024 May 8, 2025
^16.0.0 LTS May 3, 2023 Nov 8, 2023 Nov 8, 2024
^15.0.0 LTS Nov 18, 2022 May 18, 2023 May 18, 2024
^14.0.0 LTS Jun 02, 2022 Nov 18, 2022 Nov 18, 2023

It's important to note that the risk of running outdated software versions applies not only to Angular (v14 and below) and AngularJS (v1.x), but also to many other software programs and frameworks. Using outdated software always increases the chances of making your application vulnerable to security and user interaction issues. To ensure the safety and optimal performance of your application, it's crucial to check if your software that you rely on is supported, and keep your codebase up-to-date by making necessary updates regularly.

To prepare your Angular application for the Upgrade we recommend to follow this checklist:

  1. See Angular compatibility list
  2. Analyse 3d party dependencies
  3. Find out what’s affected
  4. Install desired versions
  5. Make code changes
  6. Modify tests accordingly

Angular runs on thousands of Apps within Google itself. To make developer’s jobs easier, the upgrade mechanism is provided as a part of Angular CLI.

The Angular Team's official recommendation is always to use the latest version of Angular, but this may be not possible or inconvenient for some companies due to dev team busyness, task complexity or company policy.

To help determine the most appropriate technical approach of Angular upgrade for your dev team, we are offering a range of upgrade strategies. While making a choice it is essential to understand the amount of technical debt that exists within the codebase:

  1. Incremental Upgrades: This strategy involves upgrading your application in small increments by moving from one version to another sequentially. For instance, if you're currently running Angular v15, you could first upgrade to v16, then v17, and so on until you get to the latest version. However there are different upgrade techniques that might be applied depending on your current project. This approach helps to minimise the amount of technical debt. Usually applies to the projects with no or very little technical debt.
  2. Hybrid Upgrade: This strategy involves upgrading your application to a hybrid state, allowing for a gradual migration to the latest version by converting it in small increments. This approach can help to mitigate the risks of downtime during the upgrade process. Usually applies to the projects with moderate amounts of technical debt.
  3. Full rewrite: This is a green field strategy involving creating a new application with the latest version of Angular and then migrating your codebase to the new application. This approach can be time-consuming and challenging, but it can also ensure a clean slate and a fresh start for your application. It's recommended if your application has significant technical debt or if you're planning significant architectural changes.

Remember, whichever strategy you choose, it's important to thoroughly test your application after the upgrade to ensure it's functioning optimally.

Angular Consulting considers application upgrade to be an essential service and offers versatile modifications for it.

Upgrade Strategy may be taken as a part of IT Strategy service. This approach provides a forward-looking perspective, considering your company's direction, technical operations, goals, and outcomes. It also may include a Software Testing Strategy part to ensure the software works as expected before releasing it to the end users.

Another option is a Migration to Angular service which provides a migration of your application to the latest version of Angular from any other framework. Given the current state of your software and your vision, we can offer an upgrade option that best suits your needs.

We believe our advice on how to keep up with Angular upgrades were useful and comprehensive. We tried to provide you with the best possible options and share practical advice. So be contemporary, consistent and may your application comply with the best approach!

This is an ever-green article. The current version of this article is v2.17, this article will be updated after each new Angular version release.

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