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A look at AngularJS Material Design with Google Polymer in mind


After trying out Google Polymer and diving into the world of web components, I also got excited about Angular Material Design, that is currently heavily under development on GitHub.

The project’s goal is to provide a reference implementation of Material Design based on AngularJS.

AngularJS Logo

AngularJS Logo

Ionic Logo

Ionic framework Logo

Besides the core AngularJS developer crowd, it is also pushed forward by the guys behind the Ionic framework.
Ionic is an exciting looking new framework for HTML5 mobile apps based on AngularJS and Cordova.

To start off, let’s have a short introduction to AngularJS and Material Design.

The rise of AngularJS

Google Trends JS Framework War

Google Trends JS Framework War

I don’t know how statistically significant a Google Trends search is to judge the quality of a JS framework, but the graph pretty much shows, that AngularJS crystallized itself out of the mass of JS MVC style frameworks in the last two years.

It also is a common sight in requirements for open front end developer job and freelancer positions at the moment.

The main reason for the success is probably, that it is very well structured and the two way data binding makes it feel very productive.
It is also very tightly coupled into the actual html mark up and does not abstract away from it, which feels quite natural.
Besides the technical factors, the official support by Google probably doesn’t hurt either.

Material Design

Material Design is Google’s new cross device User Experience and Visual Design language, that got pompously introduced at the Google IO 2014 keynote. It plays with a paper and ink metaphor and makes heavy use of motion and transitional animations.

Design is always to certain parts a matter of taste, but the overall reception of Material Design is quite good I believe.

Angular Material Design

What Angular Material Design in this context now basically does is extending the Angular framework with custom directives, that implement the Material Design guidelines and also provide basic layouting capabilities.
It comes with Angular services for basic interactive elements and has theming support.

It can probably best be compared to the paper elements library of Google Polymer.

Inbox Style Application

To try Angular Material Design I attempted to create a Google Inbox style front end mock up.
Google Inbox is the fancy new interface for GMail currently in Beta with a lot of convenience features and handy batch operations.

Mock Up of Google Inbox style front end in Angular Material Design

Mock Up of Google Inbox style front end in Angular Material Design

Here you can see a screenshot of my attempt. It is obviously not quite there at the original yet, but it helped me to get the basic picture of the framework. I put the code on GitHub, if anyone is interested.

Mark Up

Lets take a closer look at the code:

    <md-toolbar scroll-shrink layout="row">
        <div class="md-toolbar-tools">
            <md-button ng-click="toggleMenu()">Menu</md-button>
                <span>Angular Inbox</span>
<!-- CONTENT -->
<div layout="vertical" flex>
    <!-- LEFT SIDEBAR -->
    <md-sidenav class="md-sidenav-left" component-id="left">
        <md-toolbar class="md-theme-indigo">
            <h1 class="md-toolbar-tools">Sidenav Left</h1>
        <md-content ng-controller="LeftCtrl" class="md-padding" flex layout="vertical">
           <!-- SIDEBAR CONTENT COMES HERE -->
    <!-- MAIN CONTENT -->
    <md-content id="main" layout="horizontal" layout-align="center">
        <md-list id="content">
            <div ng-repeat="chunk in ::chunks">
                <p ng-if="chunk.divider">{{chunk.title}}</p>
                <md-card ng-if="!chunk.expanded && !chunk.divider" ng-click="chunk.expanded = !chunk.expanded" ng-mouseover="hover = true" ng-mouseout="hover = false">
                    <md-item layout="horizontal">
                       <!-- CONTENT COMES HERE -->

Here you can see the very clear, declarative and semantic mark up of the page. It almost looks like a Google Polymer Web Components page, but without the Shadow DOM awesomeness like CSS scoping and of course due to the use of the directives API bound to the AngularJS framework.


For interactive UI elements like dialogs, toasts or a bottom sheet, Angular Material Design comes with ready to use Angular services. Here is an example of the ‘$mdDialog’ service:

app.controller("YourController", ['$scope', '$mdDialog', function($scope, $mdDialog) {

    $scope.openDialog = function($event) {
            targetEvent: $event,
            '<md-dialog>' +
            '  <md-content>Hello {{ userName }}!</md-content>' +
            '  <div class="md-actions">' +
            '    <md-button ng-click="closeDialog()">' +
            '      Close' +
            '    </md-button>' +
            '  </div>' +
            controller: 'DialogController',
            onComplete: afterShowAnimation,
            locals: { name: 'Bobby' }
        // When the 'enter' animation finishes...
        function afterShowAnimation(scope, element, options) {
            // post-show code here: DOM element focus, etc.

This is of course very useful.
Compared to the web components approach, where you can put your dialog into its own custom component with a real DOM template, this regular AngularJS service seems a little old school though.


    <link rel="stylesheet" href="/bower_components/angular-material/angular-material.css">
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="/bower_components/angular-material/themes/blue-theme.css">

Another cool thing is the theming capability, which can be achieved by simply adding an additional style sheet.


So here are some overall thoughts on the project, from what I could take from my first tinkering steps. These conclusions are based on the current ‘under development’ version in November 2014.


  • The high productivity of AngularJS
  • Material Design is cool (obviously depends on taste)
  • Designed from scratch for responsive mobile web apps
  • Theme support
  • Feels faster and more stable than Google Polymer at the moment (No Polyfills)
  • Makes use of Flexbox (‘float: left;’ my a** 😉 )
  • Supported by Angular and Ionic Team (Will probably be great for building HTML5 mobile apps in the future)
  • Will probably easily transition into the world of web components with AngularJS 2.0
  • Will probably be production ready with Angular 1.3 before Polymer

Update: Had a closer look at Angular 2.0 by watching this talk and it actually looks a lot different. So one might say a plus of the Angular Material Design project is, that you will get a MD based UI library with the current 1.3 Angular and without web components (and thus a more reasonable browser support for most current real life projects).


  • Not yet based on real web components like Google Polymer
  • Angular JS 2.0 will most likely not be backwards compatible (Probably some migration effort)
  • Still under heavy development (like with Google Polymer, every big update, breaks something)
  • Browser support (especially due to flexbox and Angular 1.3, IE 8 and 9 sadly still relevant 😉 )

But like Google Polymer, Angular Material Design is currently not supposed to be a production ready framework (as of November 2014).

Additional Note: Angular Material Design requires AngularJS 1.3.x, which might be a concern to some projects (thx @ Splaktar)

2015 will be exciting

It will be very interesting to see how frameworks will adapt to the web components and ECMAScript 6 era.
I can definitely see a bright future for AngularJS 2.0 with Material Design and Google Polymer.
My old buddy, the Google Web Toolkit, might even have a shot of experiencing a second awakening with web components in version 3.0.

If the web component promise of providing easy interoperability between all the different JS frameworks will hold up, 2015 and beyond could really change a lot in the still kind of weird distributed and siloed JS front end landscape.

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Project Portfolio and Theme Update

The filet mignon of web application portfolios

The filet mignon among portfolios

Look at what I have done!

I published a first version of my project portfolio. Feel free to browse and give me feedback on this!
-> Check out my Portfolio

Updated WordPress Theme

As I was tinkering with WordPress anyway, I switched the appearance of this blog to the awesome Bosco theme

Wordpress Bosco Theme

WordPress Bosco Theme (Source:

I like single column layouts without a sidebar confining the space, but what really made me fall in love with this theme is the gorgeous and clear typography with a high focus on readability.

What I don’t like about the theme though is the red highlight color. So I overwrote some CSS styles and switched to a more orangish color and also added a light background with a shadow around the main column.

Change highlight color of WordPress Bosco theme

If you like this theme too and want to switch the highlight color, you can add these styles in your WordPress admin panel under:

WordPress Admin Panel -> Appearance -> Edit CSS
.main-navigation a, .entry-title a:visited {
	color: black;

a, a:visited, a:hover, .main-navigation a:hover, .main-navigation .current_page_item a, .entry-title a:hover {
	color: #FF5E00;

.site {
	border-color: #FF5E00;

button, input[type=submit], input[type=button], input[type=reset], .menu-toggle:focus {
	background-color: #FF5E00;

You might want to replace ‘#FF5E00’ with the color of your choice.

If you also like the background and box-shadow you can also add:

body {
	background-color: #ECECEC;
.site {
	box-shadow: 0 0 2px rgba(0,0,0,.12), 0 2px 4px rgba(0,0,0,.24);


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News Digest Week 36/37

IFA 2014 in Berlin

Last weekend a couple of colleagues and I went to Berlin to visit IFA 2014 and to attend some events in the Berlin Startup scene.

IFA Berlin Logo

IFA Berlin Logo

Saw nothing completely mindblowing at IFA. TVs and Smartphones get better incrementally. Smartwatches were a little more mature than the year before.
Liked the UI/UX of LG smart TV webOS interface. Way more elegant than the Samsung Smart TV stuff.
Oculus Rift Logo

Oculus Rift Logo

The longest visitor lines could be found everywhere the Oculus Rift was available for testing. Will be interesting how much virtual reality will take off. I believe it could be huge.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Interview at Techcrunch Disrupt

Another event that took place last week was Techcrunch Disrupt SF. I watched a couple of the videos put up by TechCrunch and found the interview with Uber Founder and CEO Travis Kalanick very interesting.
Especially his vision of making Uber cheaper than owning your own car.
Another fascinating part was the economic situation in China, which is filled with taxis, where Tencent and Alibaba battle over the taxi app market by spending tons of money.

iWatch and iPhone 6

Obviously the biggest event in the last two weeks was Apples announcement of the new iPhones, the Apple Watch and Apple Pay.

The new bigger iPhone is an obvious move to compete with the big premium Android devices.

Apple Pay is very interesting, because it could finally allow NFC payment technology to break into the mainstream. If the consumers get used to this payment behavior this could blaze the path for a lot of even more disruptive things, like paying via Bitcoin.

Finally the watch shows that Apple has the ability to think things more through than the competition. I love the UX solutions for the tiny screen from what I have seen. As an Android guy it will be interesting how Google will react. I will probably wait before buying a smartwatch though, especially because of the low battery life.

Web Dev Ressources: Build a browser engine

Cool blog post series on how to build a simple browser engine by Matt Brubeck. Knowing how browsers parse and render HTML is very interesting for web developers who seek a deeper understanding, especially regarding performance. I already learned a lot from it.
Check it out: