How Change Detection Works In Angular
Photo: Google

How Change Detection Works In Angular

Today I would like to discuss about change detection in Angular. Change detection is crucial to understand in order to keep Angular application’s performance better. In a small Angular application, you will not see any significant performance boost using change detection. But, in larger applications having thousands of components with complex component tree structure, will have performance boost using change detection.

What is change detection in Angular?

Change Detection means updating the DOM whenever data is changed. Angular can detect when component data changes, and then automatically re-render the view to reflect that change.

Any component’s state change is triggered by these three things:-

  • Events – click, submit….
  • HTTP API – any interaction with server
  • Timers – setTimeout(), setInterval()

There need to be a mechanism to detect component state changes, and re-rendered the view as needed. Here is where change detection comes into play.

Angular Default Change Detection Strategy

By default Angular uses the ChangeDetectionStrategy.Default change detection strategy.

The default strategy of change detection in Angular starts at the top at its root component and goes down the component tree, checking every component even if it has not changed. It compares the current value of the property used in the template expression with the previous value of that property.

Let’s have a look at our user component.

Place this user component inside the app component. Here is our app component.

Let me walk through the above code. In the above code, I have created a simple user component with a @Input() parameter user, and a method runChangeDetection().

In the app component, I have placed this user component as a child component and setting the user attribute of <app-user></app-user> to admin object of app component. There is a button, where we are changing the firstname of admin object on its click event.

As soon as we click the button, and change the property of our admin object, Angular will trigger the change detection to make sure the DOM is sync with the object, which is admin in this case. For each property changes, Angular change detector will traverse the component tree and update the DOM.

On every click, there is a console log like below:-

change detection in angular

Now, as you see, every time you change the object property, Angular will trigger change detection. As a result, change detector will traverse through the whole component tree, starting from root to the bottom. Traversing and change detection is a heavy process, which may cause performance degradation of application.

What if, we have thousands of components in tree, and even a single change in object property trigger the change detection. Then change detector has to traverse all those thousands components in tree in order to make DOM updated as required. This may lead to performance problem.

Although Angular is very fast, as your app grows, Angular will have to work harder to keep track of all the changes. What if we could help Angular and give it a better indication of when to check our components?

OnPush Change Detection Strategy

Angular offers another change detection strategy: it’s called OnPushand it can be defined on any component.

With this strategy, the template of the component will only be checked in 2 cases:

  • one of the inputs of the component changed (to be more accurate, when the reference of one of the inputs changes);
  • an event handler of the component was triggered.

This can be very convenient when the template of a component only depends on its inputs, and can give a serious boost to your application.

We can set the ChangeDetectionStrategy of our component to ChangeDetectionStrategy.OnPush

Let’s get back to our <app-user> component, and see how to implement OnPush change detection. This is very simple and straight forward step.

I have added changeDetection to onPush on line 7, keep rest of the code same. Now, click on button and see the effects.

There is no name change and no console log as well. You might be wondering, why this is not happening. The reason being is that, on implementing the onPush change detection, Angular will run the change detector only when the reference passed to the component is changed instead of some property changed in the object.

So, here in our previous code in app component changeName() event, we are just changing the object property, not changing the reference.

this.admin.firstname = ‘Nicole’;

So, as per onPush strategy, it will not trigger the change detection, and no DOM will be updated. To fix this issue, we have to change our code like below:

In the above code snippet, we are changing the reference of the object instead of just changing just one property. Now when you run the application, you will find on the click of the button that the DOM is being updated with the new value.

Summary

In this blog, we learned about basics of Angular change detection and how can we accomplish it in our components. OnPush change detection strategy can boost performance of any large scale application. In the upcoming posts, I will try to cover other aspects of Change detection as well.

Further Reading

Adesh

Hi, I am Adesh. I am a senior software engineer having more than 12 years of software development experience. I am a full stack developer and interested in writing the technical post on programming. I am currently working in New York City area.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Menu
%d bloggers like this: