Splitting an Angular App into Micro-Frontend Applications: A Step-by-Step Guide

Introduction to Micro-Frontends

Micro-frontends offer a scalable solution for managing large applications by dividing them into smaller, independent pieces. This approach allows specialized teams to develop, test, and deploy sections of an application separately, improving efficiency and reducing complexity.

What is a Micro-Frontend?

Micro-frontends apply microservices principles to front-end development, breaking down large applications into manageable parts. These parts, or micro-apps, can be independently developed and integrated, often through routing. For a deeper dive into micro-frontends, especially regarding module federation, we suggest our article on module federation.


Users see a unified application, while developers enjoy flexibility in deployment and serving options, including module federation for integrating micro-apps.

Micro-Frontend Technology Landscape

Micro-frontends allow using different frameworks or libraries for various application parts, offering flexibility but also posing challenges, such as team mobility. Tools like Single SPA or framework-specific solutions like Nx for Angular help integrate these technologies into a cohesive application. The aim is to independently build, test, and deploy each micro-app while ensuring a seamless user experience.

Tackling the Transition to Micro-Frontends

The Challenge of Large Applications

Large applications can suffer from lengthy test and build times, and slow local serving. Transitioning to micro-frontends by splitting the application into smaller parts can significantly alleviate these issues.

There are numerous methods for implementing micro-frontends, with various guides and resources available. Some focus on building micro-frontends from scratch, which is ideal for new projects expected to scale significantly.

Refactoring an Existing Application

This guide, however, concentrates on refactoring an existing application, potentially built using the Angular CLI, into shared libraries and individual apps. These components are then seamlessly integrated within the larger application, maintaining the unified user experience while enhancing development efficiency.

Reviewing the Base Application for Micro-Frontend Implementation

Experiment Setup with a Sample Application

For our exploration into micro-frontends, we will utilize a sample application. This application, while not large or complex, incorporates several services that demonstrate how they can be integrated with each micro-app in a micro-frontend architecture.

Application Structure

The application's structure mirrors what one would typically get from creating a new project using the Angular CLI. Key elements include:

  • Feature Modules: These are specific functionalities or pages within the app, such as 'add-user', 'dashboard', 'login', and 'user-list'.
  • Models: Data structures that define the shape of data within the app.
  • Shared Services: Common functionalities used across different parts of the application, such as authentication (auth) and user management (users).

The directory structure is as follows:

- src
  + features
    - add-user
    - dashboard
    - login
    - user-list
  - models
  + shared
    - auth
    - users

Refactoring Strategy

The goal is to refactor the services and models into libraries that can be shared across micro-apps. The feature modules, on the other hand, will be transformed into their individual apps. This approach ensures modularity and facilitates independent development and deployment of each feature.

Routing Considerations

The current routing setup in the application utilizes lazy loading, enhancing performance and user experience. Here's an extract showcasing the routing strategy:

import { NgModule } from '@angular/core';
import { RouterModule, Routes } from '@angular/router';
import { isLogged } from './shared/auth/is-logged.guard';
import { isNotLogged } from './shared/auth/is-not-logged.guard';

const routes: Routes = [
    path: '',
    canMatch: [isLogged],
    loadChildren: () =>
      import('./features/dashboard/dashboard.module').then((m) => m.DashboardModule),
    path: '',
    canMatch: [isNotLogged],
    loadChildren: () => import('./features/login/login.module').then((m) => m.LoginModule),

  imports: [RouterModule.forRoot(routes)],
  exports: [RouterModule],
export class AppRoutingModule {}

This routing module demonstrates the use of guards (isLogged and isNotLogged) to manage access to different routes based on user authentication status, and dynamic imports for lazy loading of feature modules.

Starting with Simple Steps in Micro-Frontend Migration

Approach to Migrating a Complex Application

Migrating a complex application to a micro-frontend architecture can be challenging. To facilitate this process, clear steps and possibly additional tooling (for better dependency management) are essential.

Initial Focus: Dependency-Free Files
  1. Identify Independent Files: Start by pinpointing files that do not have dependencies but are used across services and feature modules. For example, in our sample application, this applies to the models folder, which contains models used throughout the application but doesn't depend on any other files.

  2. Create a New Library for these Files: Use Angular CLI to generate a library that will house these independent files. The command for this is:

ng generate library models

This command results in the following actions:

  • Creation of a new projects folder containing the models library.
  • Installation of ng-packagr as a dependency.
  • Updates to angular.json and tsconfig.json to include the new library.

Customizing the Library

  • Path Mapping: Modify the path mapping in tsconfig.json to avoid potential conflicts with npm modules. A suggested prefix is @@, as npm module names cannot include double at signs.
  • Package Naming: If you intend to publish the library to a registry, ensure the name in package.json is registry-safe. Otherwise, you can choose a convenient name.

Refactoring the Models

  1. Move the Models: Transfer the contents of the models folder into the new library. The generated library will contain default components, modules, and services, which can be removed. Place the user model file inside the lib folder of the library.
  2. Update Public API: Modify the public-api.ts file to export the appropriate content from the lib folder.

Managing File Movement

  • Using Git for File Transfers: Employ git mv instead of operating system features for moving files. This ensures better tracking of changes by Git.

Library Folder Structure

The folder structure of the models library should be organized for clarity and easy access.

Updating Imports

Change Import Paths: Replace existing import paths with the new library path. For instance, change:

// from
import { User } from 'src/app/models/user';
// to
import { User } from '@@models';

Ensure that the path matches what is specified in tsconfig.json.

Building the Library

Resolving Errors: Initially, you may encounter errors due to the library not being built. Resolve this by running:

ng build models

This command compiles the models library, allowing TypeScript to correctly reference @@models.

Advancing Beyond Basic Migration

After successfully migrating independent code into libraries, the next step involves tackling dependent code that can also be isolated. Continuing with our example, we'll focus on migrating the auth service, including its guards, into a separate library. This process mirrors the steps taken for the models library.

Creating the Auth Library

Generate the Library

Use Angular CLI to create the auth library with the command:

ng generate library auth

Refactor the Library Content:

Remove the default content from the lib folder and transfer all contents of the auth folder into it. Update the public-api.ts file to reflect these changes.

The public-api.ts should look something like this:

 * Public API Surface of auth
export * from './lib/auth.service';
export * from './lib/is-logged.guard';
export * from './lib/is-not-logged.guard';

Build the Library

Compile the auth library using Angular CLI:

ng build auth

Update Imports

Change the application's import statements to use the new auth library.

Congratulations are in order! Parts of your application have been successfully migrated into libraries. This not only keeps the application running but potentially speeds it up, as Angular doesn't need to rebuild the entire application. You now have several libraries with isolated testing and building, suitable for larger applications where components, services, pipes, and other elements are shared.

Advanced Library Organization

For more complex applications, consider using ng-packagr's Secondary Entrypoints feature to group common items like components or services. This requires additional configuration adjustments.

Migrating the First Application

Having learned to package libraries, we now turn to migrating a feature module into its own application.

Choosing a Module for Migration

In our example, the Login feature module is selected for migration. Ensure that all shared artifacts used by this module are already in their respective libraries. Other services, like the users service, can be migrated later.

Creating the Login Application

Generate the Application

Use Angular CLI to create the login application:

ng generate application login --style=scss --routing

The --routing flag is essential for navigation within the app.

Serve the Application

Test the newly created application with:

ng serve login

If the main application is running, you may need to use a different port.

Refactoring the Feature Module

  1. Transfer the Feature Module: Instead of replacing files as done with libraries, create a feature folder in the src of the new application and move the login folder into it.

  2. Update Routing: Modify the app-routing.module.ts of the login application to serve the Login module at the root route.

  3. Adjust the AppComponent: Ensure the app.component.html of the login app contains a <router-outlet></router-outlet> tag for routing to function correctly.

Addressing Styling

Initially, the new application might appear unstyled. Copy the styles.scss file from the main application to the new one to resolve this. Future posts will delve into sharing styles across applications.


If done correctly, the login application should now be running independently, styled, and functional, marking a significant step in your journey towards a fully implemented micro-frontend architecture.

Integrating the Login App into the Main Application

After setting up the Login application as a standalone entity, the next critical step is integrating it with the main application. This involves building the Login app as a library and importing it using the existing lazy load feature in the main module.

Updating angular.json

  1. Modify Project Configuration: In angular.json, duplicate a library configuration, placing it under the login configuration for better organization. Rename the key to login-lib and update references (such as root, sourceRoot) to point to the login application.

The updated configuration should be adjusted to reflect the specific paths and settings of the login application.

  1. Creating ng-package.json: This file is essential for instructing ng-packagr on how to package the application. Copy an existing ng-package.json file from another library into the root folder of the Login application. Update the dest key to "../../dist/login-lib" to specify the build output directory.

Establishing the Public API

  1. Create public-api.ts: This file, different from typical library setups, should be created under the src folder. It should export only the Login feature module:
// public-api.ts
export { LoginModule } from './app/feature/login/login.module';

Building the Library

  1. Prepare package.json: Copy a package.json from another library to the root of the Login application, ensuring to update the project name.
  2. Build Command: Execute the Angular CLI build command:
ng build login-lib

This process compiles the Login module as a library.

Importing the Library

  1. Update tsconfig.json: Add a new path mapping for the login-lib in tsconfig.json, pointing to "dist/login-lib". This step is crucial for TypeScript to locate the library correctly.

  2. Modify Application Routing: In app-routing.module.ts, update the lazy loading path to use the new library:

loadChildren: () => import('@@login').then((m) => m.LoginModule),

Running the Integrated Application

With these changes, you can serve the application as usual. The Login module, now a separate project, should function seamlessly within the main app.

Further Opportunities and Considerations

  • Automating Builds: To streamline the process, consider using tools like Lerna for automated build and dependency management. This can help especially when dealing with multiple libraries and applications.
  • Version Management: Currently, the setup does not utilize versioning for libraries, which could complicate the introduction of breaking changes. Implementing a versioning strategy could be beneficial for long-term maintenance.