SystemJS, Angular and Wordpress

SystemJS needs some quite careful configuration, especially with Angular, and Wordpress plays around with paths quite a bit, so getting the three to play nicely is possible but fiddly. Here’s how I made it all work.

(These instructions are for “jspm”: “^0.16.10” (“systemjs”: “0.19.3”,), angular 1.x and wordpress 4.x)

In my Wordpress theme directory I ended up with the following file structure. My app has its source in assets/app and the production code is compiled to ./dist.

|- /lib
|--- config.php
|- /assets
|--- /app
|----- app.js
|----- /services
|--- /jspm_packages
|--- config.js
|--- loader.js
|- /dist
|- /node_modules
|- gulpfile.js
|- *.php,...


I want SystemJS to load all the necessary files automatically, and with no compilation during development.


The first trick is with config.js where we need to use the full directory (relative to the wordpress root) as my baseUrl.

    baseURL: "./wp-content/themes/af2015/assets",
    defaultJSExtensions: true,
    transpiler: "babel",
    babelOptions: {
      "optional": [
    paths: {
        "github:*": "jspm_packages/github/*",
        "npm:*": "jspm_packages/npm/*"
    map: {....

Wordpress wp_enqueue_script

/lib/config.php uses wp_enqueue_script to inject the relevant script(s) after doing a simple test of whether this is the development server or not.

if (preg_match('/192\.168/', $_SERVER['SERVER_NAME'], $matches)) {
    // echo "LOCALHOST";
    wp_enqueue_script('system', get_template_directory_uri() . '/assets/jspm_packages/system.js', [], '1.0.0', true );
    wp_enqueue_script('config', get_template_directory_uri() . '/assets/config.js', ['system'], '1.0.0', true );
    wp_enqueue_script('loader', get_template_directory_uri() . '/assets/loader.js', ['config'], '1.0.0', true );
} else {
    // echo "PRODUCTION";
    wp_enqueue_script('build', get_template_directory_uri() . '/dist/build.js', [], '1.0.0', true );

loader.js is a very simple script:

.catch(function(e) {


1) Bootstrapping

This was the most confusing part of the whole exercise as I started getting bugs when I added / removed totally unrelated (e.g. jQuery) packages to my overall page. Turned out SystemJS affects the timing of page loading and can disrupt the conventional ng-app directive used to load angular.

As a result, it is recommended to bootstrap Angular manually:

import angular from 'angular';
import ...

angular.module("myApp", [])

// Bootstrap app manually
angular.bootstrap(document.getElementById('app-container'), ['myApp']);

2) Templates

I started off trying to point to absolute Urls of templates, but subsequently switched to a template caching approach, with the templates compiled into a ‘standalone’ module that I could then ‘import’ from my main app.


In production, I compile all my Javascript to a bundle and place it in the ‘./dist’ directory. The php snippet above helps Wordpress insert the bundle into the HTML it renders in production, and I use gulp to build the bundle.

The trick is that the baseUrl needs to change for the bundle. This took me the longest to work out and here is the way I now use. The key line is where I call Builder and override the baseUrl to './assets'.

var Builder = require('systemjs-builder');
// Next line over-rides baseUrl in config.js
var builder = new Builder('./assets', './assets/config.js');

gulp.task('bundle', function (cb) {
    builder.buildStatic('./assets/app/app.js', './dist/bundle.js');


ng-annotate does not work out of the box with the bundle created by systemjs-builder, as it cannot find the functio calls that it needs to work on. But it is sufficient to add “ngInject” as the first line of the function / class body to help it.