Google Leans on Microsoft for Angular 2 Launch

In its launch of the Angular 2 JavaScript development framework, Google relied on an unlikely partner, Microsoft, for key tools and expertise.

Angular 2

When Google introduced the beta of Angular 2 earlier this week, it did so with the help of more than 1,300 contributors to the Angular open-source project, not the least of which was Microsoft.

Indeed, Google wrote Angular 2 in TypeScript—Microsoft's superset of JavaScript. The Angular engineering team also used Microsoft's Visual Studio Code editor, which is now in beta. Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is a code editor redefined and optimized for building and debugging modern Web and cloud applications. The open-source VS Code supports Windows, Linux and OS X.

"We've written Angular 2 completely in TypeScript, and we like it for many reasons as a thing we will recommend to folks who will adopt Angular 2," Brad Green, Google's director of engineering for Angular, told eWEEK.

However, TypeScript is not required. "You can continue to write in ECMAScript 5 or today's JavaScript," Green said. "You can write in ECMAScript 6 using a transpiler like Babel or TypeScript. TypeScript also will do plain ECMAScript 6 [ES6]. Or you can go to TypeScript or Google's Dart language. So we support a number of different languages you can use. We do expect from the surveys that we've done with many developers that they will be choosing TypeScript as their primary language."

Jules Kramer, technical program manager for Angular at Google, described Angular—also known as AngularJS—as a JavaScript development framework that is an open-source project from Google, built in collaboration with Microsoft, in a video shown at Microsoft Connect 2015 about the framework and Google's work with Microsoft on it.

Unlikely Partners?

"A lot of people are surprised when they hear that we built Angular with Microsoft," Kramer said. "Angular is built with TypeScript, which is a language Microsoft's provided to improve JavaScript."

Moreover, she said, "many of the Google devs on the Angular core team use Visual Studio Code because it lets them work better together. The code readability and navigation features of the code editor help them be more productive and refactor code faster. As an open-source framework, Angular is contributed to by hundreds if not thousands of people around the world. Angular simply would not be what it is today without that collaboration—especially with Microsoft."

Anders Hejlsberg, a founding member of the TypeScript team at Microsoft, said the Microsoft and Google teams actually spent a lot of time together improving their technologies and the collaboration speaks to the power of open source. Green said the teams "share the same soul," which enabled them to work so well together.

"Using Visual Studio Code and TypeScript lets us find bugs and refactor our code faster, and that has given us a lot more time to make Angular 2 itself better," Kramer said. "And we found out we're not really alone on that. We recently surveyed about 2,000 developers and found that about 45 percent of them were also using TypeScript for their Angular development. So there's a lot to love about Google and Microsoft working together on an open-source project."

Al Hilwa, an analyst at IDC, called Angular 2 a very innovative project with healthy community support where the Google team is doing some great open-source collaborative work.

"Teaming up with Microsoft and aligning with Typescript is a moment of clarity in the industry that we need more of," Hilwa told eWEEK. "Angular 2.0 itself really makes some significant improvements in performance and also in simplifying a bit this complex framework. Aligning with the evolving Web platform is a smart thing to do rather than retain some of the older constructs. I think adoption will build out slowly at first, but it will eventually absorb Angular 1.0."

In addition, third-party developers are picking up the ball and moving with it. Toolmaker Telerik is lauding the technology and the collaboration between industry giants.