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Dynamically add directive in AngularJS

Posted by: admin November 2, 2017 Leave a comment


I have a very boiled down version of what I am doing that gets the problem across.

I have a simple directive. Whenever you click an element, it adds another one. However, it needs to be compiled first in order to render it correctly.

My research led me to $compile. But all the examples use a complicated structure that I don’t really know how to apply here.

Fiddles are here: http://jsfiddle.net/paulocoelho/fBjbP/1/

And the JS is here:

var module = angular.module('testApp', [])
    .directive('test', function () {
    return {
        restrict: 'E',
        template: '<p>{{text}}</p>',
        scope: {
            text: '@text'
            $( element ).click(function(){
                // TODO: This does not do what it's supposed to :(
                $(this).parent().append("<test text='n'></test>");

Solution by Josh David Miller:


You have a lot of pointless jQuery in there, but the $compile service is actually super simple in this case:

.directive( 'test', function ( $compile ) {
  return {
    restrict: 'E',
    scope: { text: '@' },
    template: '<p ng-click="add()">{{text}}</p>',
    controller: function ( $scope, $element ) {
      $scope.add = function () {
        var el = $compile( "<test text='n'></test>" )( $scope );
        $element.parent().append( el );

You’ll notice I refactored your directive too in order to follow some best practices. Let me know if you have questions about any of those.


In addition to perfect Riceball LEE’s example of adding a new element-directive

newElement = $compile("<div my-directive='n'></div>")($scope)

Adding a new attribute-directive to existed element could be done using this way:

Let’s say you wish to add on-the-fly my-directive to the span element.

template: '<div>Hello <span>World</span></div>'

link: ($scope, $element, $attrs) ->

  span = $element.find('span').clone()
  span.attr('my-directive', 'my-directive')
  span = $compile(span)($scope)
  $element.find('span').replaceWith span

Hope that helps.


Dynamically adding directives on angularjs has two styles:

Add an angularjs directive into another directive

  • inserting a new element(directive)
  • inserting a new attribute(directive) to element

inserting a new element(directive)

it’s simple. And u can use in “link” or “compile”.

var newElement = $compile( "<div my-diretive='n'></div>" )( $scope );
$element.parent().append( newElement );

inserting a new attribute to element

It’s hard, and make me headache within two days.

Using “$compile” will raise critical recursive error!! Maybe it should ignore the current directive when re-compiling element.

$element.$set("myDirective", "expression");
var newElement = $compile( $element )( $scope ); // critical recursive error.
var newElement = angular.copy(element);          // the same error too.
$element.replaceWith( newElement );

So, I have to find a way to call the directive “link” function. It’s very hard to get the useful methods which are hidden deeply inside closures.

compile: (tElement, tAttrs, transclude) ->
   links = []
   myDirectiveLink = $injector.get('myDirective'+'Directive')[0] #this is the way
   links.push myDirectiveLink
   myAnotherDirectiveLink = ($scope, $element, attrs) ->
   links.push myAnotherDirectiveLink
   return (scope, elm, attrs, ctrl) ->
       for link in links
           link(scope, elm, attrs, ctrl)       

Now, It’s work well.

function addAttr(scope, el, attrName, attrValue) {
  el.replaceWith($compile(el.clone().attr(attrName, attrValue))(scope));


The accepted answer by Josh David Miller works great if you are trying to dynamically add a directive that uses an inline template. However if your directive takes advantage of templateUrl his answer will not work. Here is what worked for me:

.directive('helperModal', [, "$compile", "$timeout", function ($compile, $timeout) {
    return {
        restrict: 'E',
        replace: true,
        scope: {}, 
        templateUrl: "app/views/modal.html",
        link: function (scope, element, attrs) {
            scope.modalTitle = attrs.modaltitle;
            scope.modalContentDirective = attrs.modalcontentdirective;
        controller: function ($scope, $element, $attrs) {
            if ($attrs.modalcontentdirective != undefined && $attrs.modalcontentdirective != '') {
                var el = $compile($attrs.modalcontentdirective)($scope);
                $timeout(function () {
                }, 0);


Inspired from many of the previous answers I have came up with the following “stroman” directive that will replace itself with any other directives.

app.directive('stroman', function($compile) {
  return {
    link: function(scope, el, attrName) {
      var newElem = angular.element('<div></div>');
      // Copying all of the attributes
      for (let prop in attrName.$attr) {
        newElem.attr(prop, attrName[prop]);
      el.replaceWith($compile(newElem)(scope)); // Replacing

Important: Register the directives that you want to use with restrict: 'C'. Like this:

app.directive('my-directive', function() {
  return {
    restrict: 'C',
    template: 'Hi there',

You can use like this:

<stroman class="my-directive other-class" randomProperty="8"></stroman>

To get this:

<div class="my-directive other-class" randomProperty="8">Hi there</div>

Protip. If you don’t want to use directives based on classes then you can change '<div></div>' to something what you like. E.g. have a fixed attribute that contains the name of the desired directive instead of class.


Josh David Miller is correct.

PCoelho, In case you’re wondering what $compile does behind the scenes and how HTML output is generated from the directive, please take a look below

The $compile service compiles the fragment of HTML("< test text='n' >< / test >") that includes the directive(“test” as an element) and produces a function. This function can then be executed with a scope to get the “HTML output from a directive”.

var compileFunction = $compile("< test text='n' > < / test >");
var HtmlOutputFromDirective = compileFunction($scope);

More details with full code samples here: