Scully, the First Static Site Generator for Angular

Santosh Yadav
Jan 5 · 7 min read

In this blog post, we are going to take a brief look into the First Static Site Generator for Angular. Introducing Scully.

Introduction

A Static Site Generator is the best way to create blog posts or portfolios. We can quickly set up a blog and deploy it to any cloud provider like Netlify. An important question is what does SSG do?

JAMstack

JAMstack was introduced in 2017 and its popularity is growing every month. This is seen in the popularity of Gatsby. JAM stack websites offer:

  • We should be able to run entire websites without any server side code.
  • A website that can run on any static site provider like Netlify.
  • Can render static pages with JavaScript disabled.

JAM is short for: JavaScript, APIs, and Markup. We use JavaScript to load data from APIs and combine it with markup or static files to render static web pages.

SSG

Static Site Generators are playing an important role in the growing popularity of JAMstack. A Static Site Generator (SSG) is a tool that takes all resources and generates a Static Site.

In a static site, we don’t make any API call to get the data from the server, rather we put all the content on our pages as data and text and make it available to our end users, like blog posts or portfolios.

Now that we know about SSG, JAMstack and how they are related, let’s see the first Static Site Generator for Angular.

Other popular frameworks and libraries like Vue and React have had Static Site Generators like Gatsby and VuePress respectively for a long time. Angular was released in 2016, but did not have an SSG until now. Finally we have a Static Site Generator for Angular thanks to HeroDevs who develops and maintains Scully as an open source project.

Scully, Angular’s First Static Site Generator

Let’s first see how Angular apps are built and deployed. I will not go into more detail about Angular as it is expected that you have prior knowledge.

Figure 1. The Angular Build Process

Figure 1 gives us an overview of how our Angular apps are compiled. Components, services, modules and static assets are processed by the Angular Build Process which compiles them. In the example in Figure 1, we have a blog module which is lazily loaded. We see index.html which is our main page.

How Scully is different:

Figure 2. The Scully Build Process

In Scully, we add an extra build process after our Angular Build Process to process all the contents to create static pages. Figure 2 shows us that if we process the same example app using Scully, we get an additional index.html for the lazy loaded blog module.

Let’s create our first blog post using Scully

  • Create a new Angular application using the command below. We need the first release of Angular Ivy which is included in Angular version 9. As it is currently in RC, we use npx to generate an Angular Ivy application.
npx -p @angular/cli@next ng new blogpostdemo
  • Once our app is created, we add Scully support using the command below. The command will add all configuration required to add Scully support
ng add @scullyio/init

Before we move ahead let’s discuss plugins. Plugins are very important when it comes to SSG. Take Gatsby as an example, it has many community-contributed plugins which help generate static sites. Scully is brand new and has 3 plugin types available with a few plugins of each type included with the library:

  • Router: Router plugins are used to discover the data which will be used to pre-render the pages.
  • Render: Render plugins are used to transform the HTML which will be rendered. An example is markdown that will be processed into a static HTML page.
  • File Handler: File handler plugins process static files, for example Markdown files.

Adding blog post support

The beauty of Scully is you don’t have to use the above plugins and configure them manually. To add blog support run the below command.

ng g @scullyio/init:blog

It will add a new component, module and will add lazy load config to app.module.ts . It will also create an .md file inside the blog folder where we can add static content.

  • Open the .md file created inside blog folder, edit the content and save.

Using Scully routes

Scully determines routes using router plugins. We can access these routes using a service provided by Scully. We don’t need to add any configuration manually. We can use the Scully routes service to render navigation menus.

  • For this demo, I am also using Angular Material which is optional.
  • I have created a new nav-bar component using Angular Schematics with the command below
ng generate @angular/material:nav main-nav
  • Delete the existing code in app.component.html and add
<app-main-nav></app-main-nav>
  • Move to main-nav.component.ts add the below code
import { Component } from '@angular/core';
import { BreakpointObserver, Breakpoints } from '@angular/cdk/layout';
import { Observable } from 'rxjs';
import { map, shareReplay } from 'rxjs/operators';
import { ScullyRoutesService } from '@scullyio/ng-lib';
@Component({
selector: 'app-main-nav',
templateUrl: './main-nav.component.html',
styleUrls: ['./main-nav.component.css']
})
export class MainNavComponent {
isHandset$: Observable<boolean> = this.breakpointObserver.observe(Breakpoints.Handset).pipe(
map(result => result.matches),
shareReplay()
);
constructor(private breakpointObserver: BreakpointObserver,
public routerService: ScullyRoutesService ) {}
}
  • The only code which is added to this file is the highlighted code the ScullyRoutesService gives us access to the list of the available routes.
  • In main-nav.component.html add the below code.
<mat-sidenav-container class="sidenav-container">
<mat-sidenav #drawer class="sidenav" fixedInViewport [attr.role]="(isHandset$ | async) ? 'dialog' : 'navigation'" [mode]="(isHandset$ | async) ? 'over' : 'side'" [opened]="(isHandset$ | async) === false">
<mat-toolbar>Menu</mat-toolbar>
<mat-nav-list *ngFor="let route of routerService.available$ | async ">
<a mat-list-item [routerLink]="route.route">{{route.title}}</a>
</mat-nav-list>
</mat-sidenav>
<mat-sidenav-content>
<mat-toolbar color="primary">
<button type="button" aria-label="Toggle sidenav" mat-icon-button (click)="drawer.toggle()" *ngIf="isHandset$ | async">
<mat-icon aria-label="Side nav toggle icon">menu</mat-icon>
</button>
<span>blogpostdemo</span>
</mat-toolbar>
<!-- Add Content Here -->
<router-outlet></router-outlet>
</mat-sidenav-content>
</mat-sidenav-container>
  • The highlighted code is changed which will create the routes once we run the Sully build process.

What’s Next

You can add more posts to your existing app by using the below command

ng g @scullyio/init:post --name="<post-title>"

The above command will create a new .md file inside the blog folder.

Creating Our Static Site

Now we have one more post created, you can run the build commands again, to verify if everything is fine. We are ready to run the Scully build process to create and run our first static site.

  • Run the commands below. The first command will generate output in dist/blogpostdemo and the second command will generate the dist/static folder
ng build --prod
npm run scully

To verify if everything is working fine run the below command to install http-server.

npm i -g http-server

Next, move to dist/static folder inside the command prompt and run the command below

http-server

This is how our website looks like after running it locally

Static Site Using Scully

Scully Config

When we do ng add schematics adds a config file scully.config.js it has several properties defined.

  • projectRoot: This property has the path of the app folder of the project default to ./src/app . This property is mandatory.
  • outFolder: By default when we run the Scully build the output is generated in dist/static folder. If you want to change you can provide the property, it is optional.
  • routes: You can provide multiple routes to generate the Static Page.

Some More Tips

  • By default all the .md files are created under the blog folder, if you want to create another folder you can run the below command.
ng g @scullyio/init:markdown --name=articles --slug=article

The command will generate a folder named articles and will add a new entry in scully.config.js .your routes will be changes to /articles/<article-title>

  • You can also change the default folder where static files will be generated. By default it’s dist/static. To override, open scully.config.js and add the property below
outFolder: './<output-path>'

Adding More Plugins

Plugins are the most important part of SSG. Gatsby has more than 1500 plugins available. Scully is the first SSG for Angular and has 3 types of plugins available, but we need your help to create new plugins. If you want to contribute one, refer to the docs and submit one.

The Scully core team has started Office Hours as well so developers can ask them questions. It is scheduled every Tuesday at noon, MDT: Scully Office Hours

Another big news, we will soon be able to fetch additional data at build time from our APIs and use TransferState to immediately provide all necessary data to run our full Angular application.

Conclusion

The popularity of Static Site Generators is growing over the year. It helps us create static sites, using all the assets and can even serve the pages with JavaScript disabled. It works faster when compared to websites where we need to make the API calls to get the data. Scully is the first SSG for Angular. It’s new so we need community support to add more plugins like we already have for other SSGs like VuePress and Gatsby. Finally, a Static Site Generator for Angular is the best gift the Angular community can get. A big thank you to Aaron Frost and his team at HeroDevs. They are the real heroes of the community.

The code used for this article is available on

and it is deployed on https://agitated-swartz-d8a163.netlify.com

If you would like to contribute here are a few links for your reference:

Angular In Depth

The place where advanced Angular concepts are explained

Thanks to Lars Gyrup Brink Nielsen

Santosh Yadav

Written by

Santosh is GDE for Angular and Web Technologies, he is open source contributor for Angular, NgRx and Writer at AngularInDepth and DotNetTricks.

Angular In Depth

The place where advanced Angular concepts are explained

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