Creating Reusable Components in AngularJS using Custom Directives

Vishwakarthik Ramesh
min read
Creating Reusable Components in AngularJS using Custom Directives

It was one of those weekly meetings we used to have to discuss about some new UI/UX technologies or how we can go about making our codebase a bit less messy as it already was when one of my fellow colleagues raised a concern about the number of directives we had created which more or less served the same purpose. A few weeks later, he created a directive which could be reused and helped us replace an enormous number of lines of redundant code and saved time which would have been invested in creating pretty much the same modals again. 

Taking the same example of creating confirmation modals, let’s dive into creating reusable components in AngularJS using custom directives. 

This is a simple confirmation modal box. These confirmation modals are mostly used before events which might lead to deletion, or consequential actions. They pop up as a warning right before users confirm that the action they are trying to perform is not unintended. 

Such modals have a basic structure. In the example given above, we can identify seven components which can be made dynamic, four visual and three functional. Let’s list them down. 

Visual components:

  1. The modal title (Delete Confirmation)
  2. The modal content (Are you sure you want to delete this post?)
  3. The cancel action button text (No)
  4. The confirm action button text (Yes)

Functional components:

  1. The action to be performed when the cancel action button is clicked
  2. The action to be performed when the confirm action button is clicked
  3. The id of the modal to reference the respective modal

Now that we have our dynamic components well defined. Let’s dive straight into coding such a directive. Let’s first look at our javascript file which will define our directive and it’s behaviour. 


angular.module(myWebsite).directive('confirmationModal', function () {
    return {
        restrict: "E",
        templateUrl: "app/shared/directives/modals/confirmationModal/confirmationModal.directive.html",
        scope: {
            title: '=',
            content: '=',
            cancelActionText: '=',
            confirmActionText: '=',
            cancelActionCallback: '&',
            confirmActionCallback: '&',
            modalId: '='

Here we create our directive and use isolated scope to take in the values for the seven dynamic components we mentioned above. If you have any confusion with respect to how angular directives work, you can refer to the official documentation for the basics here. Let’s create the HTML file now which is being passed in as the template URL in the code above. 


<div id="{{modalId}}" class="modal fade in" role="dialog" tabindex="-1"></div>
    <div  class="modal-dialog"></div >
        <div class="modal-content"></div>
            <div class="modal-header"></div>
                <button type="button" class="close" data-dismiss="modal">&times;</button>
                <h3 class="modal-title" ng-bind="title"></h3>
            <div class="modal-body align-left"></div>
                <p ng-bind="content"></p>
            <div class="modal-footer"></div>
                <button type="button" class="cancel-button"  ="" ng-click="cancelActionCallback()" ng-bind="cancelActionText"></button>
                <button type="button" class="confirm-button"  ="" ng-click="confirmActionCallback()" ng-bind="confirmActionText"></button>

This is the template of the reusable confirmation modal we have created. The values passed in from the controller to the directive will reflect here when the directive is actually rendered in the DOM. 

We are ready with our confirmation modal directive. Let’s put it into action by using it in one of our pages. 


Other code
<confirmation-modal title="'Confirm Delete'" content="'this is the content'" cancel-action-text="'cancel'" confirm-action-text="'confirm'" modal-id="'myModal'" cancel-action-callback="cancelDeleteCallback()" confirm-action-callback="confirmDeleteCallback()"></confirmation-modal>

Wherever we want a confirmation modal box, we can paste the code with its respective values. In this case, we have replicated the Delete Confirmation modal shown at the very start of the post. We are passing strings for the visual components and the modal-id attribute and function calls for the actions to be performed on the click of the No and Yes button respectively in this case. These functions will have to be defined in the controller currently bound to the html providing the scope (home.controller.js in this case). 

This is how a simple reusable component can be made with custom directives in AngularJS. Several other properties can also be passed in if the need arises. For example, we can take in the color class to be applied on the buttons or even take in the size of the modal etc. Custom directives form a critical part of modularizing code in AngularJS and can be exploited in this way to avoid writing the same piece of code again and again and keeping common functionality at one place.


We wanted to apply this knowledge with some of our own processes, which is why we made the process of duplicating and customizing nodes so simple. Once you've created a node for your chatbot, all you have to do is duplicate it, and change the values.

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