Using Angular CLI with ASP.NET Core

It is possible to integrate the convenience of Angular CLI into a ASP.NET Core application - find out how!

Tags: angular ASP.NET core

Angular CLI

Setting up an Angular app is not a simple task. Appart from creating the relatively complex project structure, configuring the Typescript compiler and installing type definitions, you have to choose a module and/or build system and rig it all together.

Angular CLI does a great job in getting you started. Some of it's features include:

  • A Webpack-based incremental buildsystem, which will transform your Typescript modules into Javascript and bundle them into a few files which can be minified.
  • A built in dev-server which supports hot module replacement. This way you can instantly see your changes without having to reload your browser.
  • Support for unit tests and for end to end testing (running tests in a headless browser).
  • Scaffolding modules, components and services via the CLI.

What's the problem?

As you can see Angular CLI does abstract a lot of the complexity away. This also leads to a problem: As most of the convenience functions are coupled to the dev-server. Apart from hot module replacement this includes rerouting arbitrary URLs back to your index.html so you can use push-API-style URLs. Even worse, Angular CLI is hiding the Webpack configuration for some reason.

At this point you have three options:

  1. Do not use Angular CLI for production.
  2. Keep your client app seperate from your API and enable CORS. (This still won't solve your routing problem)
  3. Read on...

Enter: AspNetCore.SpaServices

Fortunately we can make our ASP.NET Core application solve most of these problems with a nuget package called Microsoft.AspNetCore.SpaServices. This package can...

  • our Webpack-build for us.
  • ...handle Hot-Module-Replacement,
  • us with server-side routing.

SpaService can also do server-side prerendering which is an extremely powerful feature e.g. for SEO, but I will save this for a future post.

To sum things up: With Microsoft.AspNetCore.SpaServices we can make our ASP.NET Core App aware, that it's hosting a Single-Page-Application and we can persuade it to take over most of the chores the dev-server would have done - like running Webpack and performing HMR.


I'm asuming you have Node.js, Angular CLI and at least .Net Core Runtime 1.1 as well as the .Net Core SDK 1.04 installed.

Step 1: Building the ASP.NET Core App

First of we will create a minimal ASP.NET Core WebApi application as a base. Create a new directory for your project, open a shell in it and run dotnet new webapi.

Next, lets add the needed packages. In the same shell run:

> dotnet add package Microsoft.AspNetCore.StaticFiles
> dotnet add package Microsoft.AspNetCore.SpaServices

Next you can run dotnet restore to download and install the referenced packages and dotnet run to test your app.

If you head to http://localhost:5000/api/values you should see some sample JSON-Data, if the application is running correctly.

Step 2: Creating the Angular App

Go into another unrelated folder an create an app with Angular CLI. Open a shell and run

> ng new my-angular-app`
> cd my-angular-app
> cd ng eject

The last command is the most important step in these instructions. As this will make Angular CLI output to webpack.config.js file, which we will need to run Webpack without the help of Angular CLI. Please note that some commands like ng build will no longer work after this.

Step 3: Merging the projects

In this step we will integrate the Angular CLI project structure into our ASP.NET Core project. You don't have to do it like me. I just thought this was a reasonable approach.

First rename the folder src to ClientApp. Then copy everything in your Angular App folder over to to your ASP.NET Core App folder, so that the .angular-cli.json is in the root of your ASP.NET Core app.

As we renamed the src folder, some paths need to be adjusted. In .angular-cli.json I adjusted the following paths. Ignore the ./../Views/Shared/_WebpackTemplate.cshtml for now. We will need it later.

  "apps": [
      "root": "ClientApp",
      "outDir": "wwwroot",
      "index": "./../Views/Shared/_WebpackTemplate.cshtml",
  "lint": [
      "project": "ClientApp/"
      "project": "ClientApp/tsconfig.spec.json"

In karma.conf.js we just adjust some paths:

module.exports = function (config) {
    files: [
      { pattern: './ClientApp/test.ts', watched: false }
    preprocessors: {
      './ClientApp/test.ts': ['@angular/cli']

In protractor.conf.js we need to change the port of the application. In ASP.NET Core, the default is 5000.


exports.config = {
  baseUrl: 'http://localhost:5000/',

webpack.config.js can be a bit overwhelming. Make sure to make a backup first. Here we're mainly adjusting paths again. We also tell the HtmlWebpackPlugin (This plugin will automatically reference your Webpack chunks in your index-HTML-file) to use ./Views/Shared/_WebpackTemplate.cshtml as a template for the Index.cshtml that will serve as our single page application - more on that later. We're also telling Webpack to output it's chunks to wwwroot/dist where ASP.NET Core will serve it's static files from.

module.exports = {
  "entry": {
    "main": [
    "polyfills": [
    "styles": [
  "output": {
    "path": path.join(process.cwd(), "wwwroot/dist"),
  "module": {
    "rules": [
        "include": [
          path.join(process.cwd(), "ClientApp/styles.css")
  "plugins": [
    new GlobCopyWebpackPlugin({
      "patterns": [
      "globOptions": {
        "cwd": __dirname + "/ClientApp",
    new ProgressPlugin(),
    new HtmlWebpackPlugin({
      "template": "./Views/Shared/_WebpackTemplate.cshtml",
      "filename": "./../../Views/Home/Index.cshtml",
    new AotPlugin({
      "tsConfigPath": "ClientApp/",

Step 4: Preparing our Angular app for ASP.NET Core

Open a shell shell install these additional packages in npm:

> npm install --save-dev aspnet-webpack 
> npm install --save-dev webpack-hot-middleware

These are needed for Webpack integration into ASP.NET Core.

To enable hot-module reloading modify your ./ClientApp/main.ts to look like this.

import { enableProdMode } from '@angular/core';
import { platformBrowserDynamic } from '@angular/platform-browser-dynamic';

import { AppModule } from './app/app.module';
import { environment } from './environments/environment';

// You need to add this...
if (module['hot']) {

if (environment.production) {


Step 5: Preparing our ASP.NET Core app for Angular

Add the following files to you project: First up is a super simple MVC-Controller that should serve our index.html from every route: ./Controllers/Home.cs:

public class HomeController : Controller
    public IActionResult Index()
        return View();

Create an empty ./Views/Home folder. And the file ./Views/Shared/_WebpackTemplate.cshtml which is just a simple HTML template:

<!doctype html>
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    <base href="/">

    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
    <link rel="icon" type="image/x-icon" href="favicon.ico">

Webpack will use the contents of this file, add script-tags for the chunks to it and write it to ./Views/Home/Index.cshtml, where our controller will serve it.

We're almost done. Last thing we need to do is setup some stuff in the ./Startup.cs:

// ...
using Microsoft.AspNetCore.SpaServices.Webpack;
// ...

public class Startup
    private readonly IHostingEnvironment _hostingEnvironment;

    public Startup(IHostingEnvironment env)
        _hostingEnvironment = env;

        var builder = new ConfigurationBuilder()
            .AddJsonFile("appsettings.json", optional: true, reloadOnChange: true)
            .AddJsonFile($"appsettings.{env.EnvironmentName}.json", optional: true)
        Configuration = builder.Build();

    public IConfigurationRoot Configuration { get; }

    // This method gets called by the runtime. Use this method to add services to the container.
    public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)
        // Add framework services.

    // This method gets called by the runtime. Use this method to configure the HTTP request pipeline.
    public void Configure(IApplicationBuilder app, IHostingEnvironment env, ILoggerFactory loggerFactory)
        // only enable webpack building in Developement environment
        if (env.IsDevelopment())
            app.UseWebpackDevMiddleware(new WebpackDevMiddlewareOptions
                HotModuleReplacement = true



        app.UseMvc(routes => 
                name: "default",
                template: "api/{controller}/{id?}");
            // add a special route for our index page
                name: "spa-fallback",
                defaults: new { controller = "Home", action = "index" });

The important changes take place in the Configure Method. First we enable the Webpack dev-server with Hot-Module-Replacement, then we enable serving static files and lastly we configure a speacial Route, that will always serve our Home/Index view when an unknown route is found - enabling push-API-style routing without the need for the #-character.

Step 6: Run the app

No we can start our App to see if everything is working correctly. However, for the dev-server to work, we need to run the app in Developement-Mode (that's how we just configured it in Startup.cs). Most IDEs will set this environment-variable for you automatically. In the shell you need to do this: On Windows...


..or in an *nix environment:


Then you can run the app in the same shell like this:

> dotnet build
> dotnet run

The cold boot might take several seconds for the Webpack build to complete. After it, you should see a message like this:

> info: Microsoft.AspNetCore.NodeServices[0]
>       Webpack built 3619b488fb8a701fdd0b in 11733ms

Got to http://localhost:5000 and you should see the message "app works!" from the Angular CLI template.

Some things to try

Almost all features of Angular CLI should still work. For example you could...

  • ...modify the "app works!" string in ./ClientApp/app/app.component.ts while the app is running to see HMR in action.
  • ...scaffold a component by running ng g component my-component.
  • end-to-end tests with protractor by running npm run e2e while the app is running.