If you have a form in your web application chances are you are going to need to add a behavior to one of the input fields. This post will show you how to build your very own angular directive.

One use case for a custom Angular directive that I use is to automatically set the mouse focus to the first input field when a page loads.

Here is an example of an input element:

<input type="text" 
       ng-model="name" />

From the above code you can see that we just have a simple text input with an ng-model attribute of name. The ng-model doesn’t really matter in this example though. What we want to do is write some Javascript that will run every time the page is loaded and put the focus on this input. Here is the JavaScript that will put the focus on the input element:


But where are we supposed to put this single line of code and how is it going to know what element is? This is where Angular directives come in. Let’s create one:

app.directive('focusElement', ['$timeout', function ($timeout) {
    return {
        restrict: 'A',
        link: function ($scope, element, attrs) {
            $timeout(function () {
  1. There already is a module named app declared and so we can add a directive to it by specifying app.directive.
  2. Give the directive a name like ‘focusElement’ (notice that the name is camelCased).
  3. Pass in any depencies that we will need. In this case we will be using $timeout.
  4. Add a return statement that we will wrap everything into.
  5. Add a restrict statement. Directives can be used in several different ways and we want to restrict our directive to only be used as an attribute, so we will use the letter A.
  6. Specify a link statement. This is where the magic happens. Notice that we are passing in 3 things into our link function: $scope, element, and attrs. The element that we are passing in is going to contain data about any element we add this directive to.
  7. Write the actual code. We are going to wrap the focus() method in a $timeout so that the focus will happen after Angular has finished loading.

The last thing we need to do is return back to our partial where the input field is and add our new directive to it:

<input type="text" 
       focus-element />

Notice that we used focus-element instead of focusElement.