Error Message Minification with MinErr

With the release of AngularJS 1.2.0rc1, the Angular team announced our new error message minification service, called MinErr (pronounced "miner"). MinErr provides more insight to developers about error conditions in their app, while also reducing code size. To ease the transition, let's take a detailed look at MinErr and try to answer any questions that might come up.

What is MinErr and why did you build it?

Angular has had some cryptic and confusing error messages in the past.

Error: 10 $digest iterations reached. Aborting!
    at Object.g.$digest
    at Object.g.$apply
    at Object.d [as invoke]

Useful error messages tend to be longer and more detailed, but long error message string literals don't minify well. Keeping the core small is very important for Angular, so new developers usually had to go to Google and StackOverflow to make sense of our terse error messages.

To solve this problem, we built MinErr. MinErr is a set of tools that strip your error message from the code at compile time and generate detailed documentation on It allows us to provide detailed error messages with optional interpolated parameters. Using MinErr, the same $digest error shown above produces the following error message (truncated for readability):


See the full link for an example of what the resulting page looks like on the AngularJS website.

Error messages can be as detailed as necessary without contributing to the weight of Angular. In fact, implementing MinErr removed over 1KB from the minified and gzipped build, which saved the cost of approximately two core components.

How do I use it?

You interact with MinErr when an error occurs inside Angular. In a non-minified build, a MinErr error will log its detailed message to the console, interpolated with any relevant parameters. In a minified build, it will log a link. Clicking on the link will send you to a web page with the interpolated error message along with a detailed description of the error and a Disqus thread.

How do I develop with it?

As a contributor to Angular, you should define your errors in a way that MinErr can understand. Each error message is identified by a namespace and error code. The namespace should be chosen by the component, directive or module that the error occurs in, and should be as specific as possible. For instance, an error in the $location service should have namespace $location, and an error in the ngRepeat directive should have namespace ngRepeat. The error code should be a short (4-10 character) string that identifies the error and is unique in the namespace. Here's a short example using namespace namespace and error code code.

var namespaceMinErr = minErr('namespace');
throw namespaceMinErr('code', 'long {0} template string', 'interpolated');

It's very important to note that variable naming is significant. The result from minErr('namespace') must be named namespaceMinErr. The compile step will not notice or possibly mislabel a different variable name.

If the error was defined correctly, the following error message will log in development:

[namespace:code] long interpolated template string

In a minified build, the message changes.


It's also legal to chain the result of the call to minErr if there is only one error code in the namespace, like in the following example. The results are the same as above.

throw minErr('namespace')('code', 'long {0} template string', 'interpolated');

After you define a new MinErr error, you need to define a doc file for that error. For our simple example, the file would be docs/content/error/namespace/code.ngdoc. It might contain the following:

@ngdoc error
@name namespace:code
@fullName Example MinErr Error

This error occurs when demonstrating MinErr.

For more information, refer to

The build will fail until this file has at least been defined with the appropriate metadata. You are strongly encouraged to fill in a detailed description of what the error is along with how to reproduce and fix it. The build will then generate a page on the website for your new error.


Variable naming is significant when defining and using new error messages. The example above explains how to name a minErr object. Make sure to name minErr objects correctly.

The compiler issues a warning when you throw an non-MinErr error. This causes problems with rethrows. For example,

try {
} catch (e) {
  throw e;  // Warning!

This will issue a warning, even if we know e is always a MinErr. Future versions of MinErr will use Closure Compiler type annotations to solve this problem. For now, this is something you need to watch out for.

The docs task in Grunt now depends on minify. This happens because the compiler outputs a file with error message template strings and metadata, which is needed for the docs task. This should probably be made explicit in the Grunt configuration for Angular, but we haven't done it yet. You can be the first to send a pull request with the fix! In the meantime, always make sure you can run grunt package without any failures and without introducing any additional warnings.

Compiler Hacking

As part of the implementation of MinErr, we implemented a custom pass in Google Closure Compiler. As a result, we now have our own custom runner for Closure Compiler that we can use for doing Angular-specific processing and analysis. You can fork it here. If you have an idea for making production Angular smaller or more convenient to work with, get in touch with us or send us a pull request!

Of course, if you want to hack on the compiler for Javascript in general, you should send a patch to Closure Compiler on Google Code.

What's next?

We'll continue making MinErr better and easier to use. The next release of MinErr will log the site URL in development mode in addition to the interpolated error message. We also have planned improvements to the compiler to relax some of the current usage restrictions.

Please try it out and report any issues. Feel free to send a pull request if you find something that's broken or could be improved.

Happy error-free hacking from myself and the Angular team!

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