Dynamic Angular Microfrontends

Using manifests and dynamic routing

webpack-module-federation-angular
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Introduction

The key idea behind microfrontends is to lazy load code at runtime, such that the Angular compiler does not need to know about the lazy loaded feature modules at runtime. This is especially useful, when multiple teams are working on a project and independent deployment is necessary for productivity.
await import('http://localhost:4200').then(m => m.ROUTES)
Although this is the key idea, this won’t work like that out-of-the-box, because Angular is not able to resolve the dependency at compile time. Webpack can be used to do some magic things under the hood, such that lazy loading works with the help of a module federation plugin. If you are not familiar with the basic concepts, I suggest reading this article first:
Your First Angular Microfrontend
In the next part, I will assume that you already know how Module Federation can be used to statically lazy load microfrontends with hard-coded URLs. Obviously, having hard-coded URLs is not good, because we might want to implement some logic that decides which microfrontends should be loaded depending on user permissions, or just the deployment stage (dev, staging, prod).

Guide

I have created a monorepository containing two remotes (remote1, remote2) and one shell. Both remote1 and remote2 expose a routing configuration in the webpack config such that the routing configuration can be lazy loaded by the shell. The shell only contains a router-outlet that is used to display the remotes and also contains a navbar that has one router-link for each remote. This is basically all the necessary code for presentation. The tricky part is the dynamic routing which is based on a manifest file. The manifest file should at least implement the RemoteConfig from the @angular-architects/module-federation package and can extend more custom properties that are needed for your application. My manifest for example extends it like the following:
import { Manifest, RemoteConfig } from "@angular-architects/module-federation";
 
export type CustomRemoteConfig = RemoteConfig & {
    exposedModule: string;
    route: string;
    routeConfigName: string;
};

export type CustomManifest = Manifest<CustomRemoteConfig>;
manifest.ts
{
    "remote1": {
        "remoteEntry": "http://localhost:4201/remoteEntry.js",
        "exposedModule": "./Routes",
        "route": "one",
        "routeConfigName": "routes" 
    },
    "remote2": {
        "remoteEntry": "http://localhost:4202/remoteEntry.js",
        "exposedModule": "./Routes",
        "route": "two",
        "routeConfigName": "routes" 
    }
}   
mf.manifest.json
This manifest file should be stored in the assets folder and then we can make sure when bootstrapping that the remotes are loadable.
import { loadManifest } from '@angular-architects/module-federation';

loadManifest('/assets/mf.manifest.json')
  .catch((err) => console.error(err))
  .then(() => import('./bootstrap'))
  .catch((err) => console.error(err)); 
main.ts
Now, the routing is the main problem because we cannot just code a static routing configuration. Instead, we can use a low-level dependency injection token from the angular-router such that we can use the useFactory property. It is important to provide an empty routing configuration and then we can access the ROUTES injection token.
bootstrapApplication(AppComponent, {
  providers: [
    importProvidersFrom(HttpClientModule),
    provideRouter([]),
    {
      provide: ROUTES,
      useFactory: () => createRoutes(),
      multi: true,
    },
  ],
}).catch((err) => console.error(err));
bootstrap.ts
The createRoutes function is a utility function that returns a Routes object based on the manifest file. Basically, the manifest is iterated over and mapped to a routing configuration using the values of the manifest. In order to load the manifest, the getManifest function can be used.
import {
  getManifest,
  loadRemoteModule,
} from '@angular-architects/module-federation';
import { Routes } from '@angular/router';
import { CustomManifest } from './custom-manifest';

export function createRoutes(): Routes {
  return Object.entries(getManifest<CustomManifest>()).map(([key, value]) => ({
    path: value.route,
    loadChildren: () =>
      loadRemoteModule({
        type: 'manifest',
        remoteName: key,
        exposedModule: value.exposedModule,
      }).then((m) => m[value.routeConfigName]),
  }));
}
routes-factory.ts
And that is almost it. The only thing remaining is to dynamically add the router-links to the navbar. The component also uses the getManifest function and in the template we can simply iterate over the entries in an ngFor .
<div class="navbar">
  <ng-container *ngFor="let m of manifest | keyvalue">
    <a [routerLink]="[m.value.route]"></a>
  </ng-container>
</div>
navbar.component.html

Result

result
shell application

Prospect

This dynamic approach can be used for multiple interesting cases. The code is static, but the logic is contained in the manifest file and therefore a CI/CD pipeline could exchange the file depending on the stage. Otherwise, the manifest could be loaded entirely from a backend depending on the permissions of a logged in user. Or it could be used for A/B testing.
  • Deployment Stages
  • A/B Testing
  • Dashboards
  • Conditional Rendering based on permissions
  • Plugin Architecture

In conclusion, this dynamic loading enables companies to have more control and scalability potentials for their microfrontend architectures.

GitHub Repository

Thank you 🤗

Thank you for reading this article! I hope that you enjoyed it and could learn something new and interesting.
If you have any questions left, don't hessitate to contact me on Twitter or LinkedIn to have a discussion.
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