Angular Project Blackjack: 2 – Our First Controller

This post is part two of my “from scratch” AngularJS project. If you are feeling lost, the first post is here.

In our last post, we got our project directory setup, loading angular via bower and serving our files locally with http-server. Before we do anything else, let’s make it look somewhat decent via bootstrap. We’ll download it via bower. Then we’ll link the files in our index.html

bower install bootstrap --save

We’ll update the shell.html with with the bootstrap base template taken straight from the docs.

Now that we’re looking half-way decent, we’ll start by putting our game on the page. In AngularJS, our controllers are the ‘C’ to the MVC. They also can be the ‘VM’ in MVVM, depending on how you look at it. I’m a big MVC guy and since the C in MVC stands for ‘Controller’, so I’m just going to go with that. Let’s create our controller for the game, called GameController. As we go along, this will eventually contain the entire game. Since we are just getting started though, the only things our game controller will do right now is to start and end a game. Here is the meat to our controller:

function GameController(){
    var game = this;

    game.init = function () {
        game.started = false;

    game.start = function () {
        game.started = true;

    game.end = function () {
        game.started = false;


I’m setting up this controller to always be used in a ‘controllerAs’ situation. This eliminates the need to use $scope in your controllers, and it is highly suggested by most Angular professionals. I also almost always use an init function in my controllers. I’ve found that it makes testing a bit easier when you want to see how your controller behaves with different variables. It is also good to have all your initialization code easy to find and manage. I’ve seen some controllers with variables being init-ed all over the place and it is tough to follow. Our start and end functions will be called on buttons in the view.

Let’s implement this controller on the view side.

<div ng-controller="GameController as game">
    <div ng-if="!game.started">
        <button class="btn btn-primary" ng-click="game.start()">Start Game</button>
    <div ng-if="game.started">
        Game In Progress
        <button class="btn btn-danger" ng-click="game.end()">End Game</button>

Our view now has two states, game started and game stopped. The ‘ng-if’ displays the proper button for each state. You’ll see we’ve wired up the buttons with ‘ng-click’ to call those functions we defined on the controller.

We’ve got our game controller being displayed and the buttons are functioning properly, so we will leave it here. Take a look at the resulting code here.

One thing to note, I would normally put this game controller into a directive and just throw the directive into shell.html, but since we haven’t discussed directives yet, we’ll leave that for another post!

Up next: Unit Testing!

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