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The Concise Angular 6 Universal Guide

written by Jeff Delaney
full courses for pro members

A concise and simple quick start for Angular v6 Universal SSR.

This snippet is a companion to the Angular Firebase Universal Tutorial.

Step 1 - Generate an Angular 6 App

ng new ssrApp --routing

If using Firebase, make sure to follow the official step guide for AngularFire2. Make sure you’re on the latest version.

Step 2 - Generate Universal Code and Update NgModules

We can now generate much of the Universal boilerplate with the Angular CLI. In 2018, a render engine was introduced for express to simplfy the server code.

ng generate universal --client-project YOUR_PROJECT_NAME

# New Render Engine
npm install @nguniversal/express-engine

# If using lazy loading
npm install @nguniversal/module-map-ngfactory-loader

If transferring state between server/browser, update your NgModules accordingly. The browser app should have the following imports in src/app/app.module:

import { BrowserTransferStateModule } from '@angular/platform-browser';

imports: [
BrowserModule.withServerTransition({ appId: 'YOUR_PROJECT_NAME' }), // <-- here

Update the src/app/app.server.module with the following code:

import {
} from '@angular/platform-server';
import { ModuleMapLoaderModule } from '@nguniversal/module-map-ngfactory-loader';

imports: [
ServerTransferStateModule, // <-- needed for state transfer
ModuleMapLoaderModule // <-- needed for lazy-loaded routes
export class AppServerModule {}

Step 3 - Create an ExpressJS Server

The ExpressJS app will be deployed to a NodeJS server and render the app on the server at runtime. A few extra dependencies are required if you plan on using Firebase server-side.

npm install --save-dev express webpack ts-loader

# If using Firebase
npm install --save-dev ws xmlhttprequest

Create server.ts in the project root.

// These are important and needed before anything else
import 'zone.js/dist/zone-node';
import 'reflect-metadata';

// DOM libs required for Firebase
(global as any).WebSocket = require('ws');
(global as any).XMLHttpRequest = require('xmlhttprequest').XMLHttpRequest;

import { enableProdMode } from '@angular/core';

import * as express from 'express';
import { ngExpressEngine } from '@nguniversal/express-engine';
import { provideModuleMap } from '@nguniversal/module-map-ngfactory-loader';

import { join } from 'path';

const PORT = process.env.PORT || 4000;
const DIST_FOLDER = join(process.cwd(), 'dist');
const APP_NAME = 'base6';

const {
} = require(`./dist/${APP_NAME}-server/main`);


const app = express();

// Set the engine
bootstrap: AppServerModuleNgFactory,
providers: [provideModuleMap(LAZY_MODULE_MAP)]

app.set('view engine', 'html');

app.get('/**/*', (req, res) => {
res.render(join(DIST_FOLDER, APP_NAME, 'index'), {

app.set('view engine', 'html');
app.set('views', join(DIST_FOLDER, APP_NAME));

// Static Assets
app.get('*.*', express.static(join(DIST_FOLDER, APP_NAME)));

// Point all routes to Universal
app.get('*', (req, res) => {
res.render('index', { req });

// Start Express Server
app.listen(PORT, () => {
console.log(`Node Express server listening on http://localhost:${PORT}`);

Step 4 - Create a Webpack Config to Compile the Server

Create webpack.server.config.js in the project root.

const path = require('path');
const webpack = require('webpack');

const APP_NAME = 'base6';

module.exports = {
entry: { server: './server.ts' },
resolve: { extensions: ['.js', '.ts'] },
mode: 'none',
target: 'node',
externals: [/(node_modules|main\..*\.js)/],
output: {
path: path.join(__dirname, `dist/${APP_NAME}`),
filename: '[name].js'
module: {
rules: [
{ test: /\.ts$/, loader: 'ts-loader' },
test: /(\\|\/)@angular(\\|\/)core(\\|\/).+\.js$/,
parser: { system: true }
plugins: [
new webpack.ContextReplacementPlugin(
path.join(__dirname, 'src'), // location of your src
{} // a map of your routes
new webpack.ContextReplacementPlugin(
path.join(__dirname, 'src'),

Step 5 - Build Scripts

Here are the commands to build and run your Universal app.

  • Build Angular browser app ng build --prod
  • Build Angular server app ng run YOUR_PROJECT_NAME:server
  • Build Express server webpack --config webpack.server.config.js
  • Serve the app node dist/server.js

You might combine these commands in your package.json scripts to simplify the build process.

"scripts": {
// ... omitted
"build:ssr": "ng build --prod && ng run YOUR_PROJECT_NAME:server && npm run webpack:server",
"serve:ssr": "node dist/YOUR_PROJECT_NAME/server.js",
"webpack:server": "webpack --config webpack.server.config.js"

Then run npm run build:ssr && npm run serve:ssr to test your app locally on localhost:4000.


App Engine Flex

At this point, you need a NodeJS server to deploy With an existing Firebase project, you can easily deploy your ExpressJS server to App Engine Flex (a paid service).

Install gcloud CLI tools and link your Firebase project. Update the start script in package.json:

"scripts": {
// ... omitted
"start": "npm run start:ssr"

Run gcloud app deploy and you’re on the cloud.

Firebase Cloud Functions

Work in Progress.