Angular Signal

hey an exciting new feature is coming to angular signals signals provide a new way for our code to tell our templates and any other code that our data has changed. this improves angular’s change detection and makes our code more reactive. what do we mean by that we’ll see that in a moment signals are a new feature available for developer preview and angular V16 due out in May of this year. so what are angular signals why would we use them and how do we create read and change them and react to those changes.
let’s answer each of these questions and walk through a Hands-On demo. we’ll start with the why let’s say

we are building a feature to do some simple math here we set x equal to 5 y equal to 3 and Z equal X Plus y so what is z well if you’re arithmetic is anything like mine I come out with eight but what if we then change X to 10 now what is z if you said eight you are right the value of Z is assigned when the expression is first evaluated it does not react to changes in X or Y but one of the reasons we do angular is because we want a reactive user interface we want our code to react to changes for example when the user changes the quantity we want the code to react and recalculate our totals if the user deletes one of the line items we want the totals to reflect that as well how do we react to changes well one option is to use a getter in this example we Define the extended price as a getter so when the quantity changes change detection kicks in the template resets the extended price and it gets the price times the new quantity
alternatively we could use an event here we have an event handler that is called from the template when the user changes the quantity in that event handler we recalculate the extended price this works for changes in this component but what if the totals were in a separate total component how would it know to update its totals that’s where signals come in here we create the quantity as a signal then we create a computed signal that reacts and recalculates when the quantity signal changes here on the left is our original example


and on the right similar code that uses signals we create a signal x with a value of 5 of signal y with a value of 3 and we create a computed signal that is the sum of X and Y if we change the X signal the Z computed signal automatically reacts and recalculates providing the new result if we bind to Z in the template angular’s change detection kicks in and Z is updated in the template cool our components can now be more reactive as we just saw signals provide more reactivity we can use signals to Define our application State basically the data in our application and we can reference those signals in our template so our template knows what data it depends on when that data changes angular change detection knows it needs to re-render that part of the view this gives us finer control over change detection and can improve our application’s performance so what is a signal you can think of a signal as a Value Plus a change notification with imperative code when we declare a variable that a variable is available to any code within scope it’s like putting that value on a shelf any code can look at that shelf and read the value but the value doesn’t react to any other variable changes with signals when we declare a signal that signal value is encapsulated it’s like putting the value in a box when the signal changes the Box glows providing notification of the change any code that references the signal is notified of the change and can react appropriately.

if a template reads the signal that template is scheduled for re-rendering and the current value of the signal is displayed notice the parentheses when reading the signal this calls the signal getter to open the box so to speak and read the value when you make updates to the model or data angular automatically applies those changes to the corresponding view this enables a seamless and synchronized interaction between model and view allowing for a smooth user experience.

in the current versions of angular change detection uses Zone JS to keep the applications model in View and sync as we see more signal features in angular will be able to create components that don’t need Zone JS for change detection similar to how we use on push today we’ll be able to use signals for finer control over change detection so signals are reactive they provide a notification when their value changes making it easier for our code to react to those changes a signal always has a value we provide an initial value when creating the signal and we can change that value as we’ll see shortly a signal is side effect free meaning that reading a signal can cause no other changes nor
(06:11) execute any other code so that’s the why and the what now let’s look at the Syntax for how to create a signal read a signal set a signal use signal methods Define a computed value and use an effect for side effects then we’ll open an editor and demo these features where can you use signals we can use them in components to track local component State we can add them to a directive we can use them in a service to share State across components we can read them in a template to display signal values and we can use them
(06:51) basically anywhere else in our code here is the Syntax for creating a signal this creates and initializes a signal using the signal Constructor function it creates the signal of the defined type that type can be a string number array object or any other type setting the type is optional as signals can often in further type using the default value like in this example if we didn’t provide the type the signal would know it was a number the default value is required the signal must always have a valid value starting with this default
(07:30) here are some examples we create a numeric signal with a default value of one we create an array signal with a default array we create a signal for a vehicle object and set its default value and we create a signal for an array of vehicle objects here we set the default to an empty array a signal created with the signal Constructor function is writable the signal value can be set to a new value updated based on its current value or its content can be mutated for arrays or other objects we’ll see the Syntax for
(08:08) these operations in just a moment we read a signal by calling its getter function we use the signal name followed by empty parentheses this calls the signal getter so here we open the box so to speak by calling the getter and retrieve the current value of the signal here are some examples we can read a signal in our code in this example we’re reading the value of the quantity signal to display it in the console this code runs once when the component is constructed we can read a signal in the template here we use an ngFor to display

each element and our quantity available signal which is an array and here we use binding to read the selected vehicle signal and display the name and price properties reading a signal opens the box to get the current value technically speaking it’s calling the signals getter function and it reads the current value of the signal the Box only contains its one current value we replace the value of a signal using the set function we start with the signal name call the set function and provide the new value here are some examples in the first scenario the user selects a quantity from a select element in the template when the selection changes the template calls the on quantity selected event handler the code then replaces the value of the quantity signal with the value selected by the user in this second example we set the selected vehicle signal to a different object setting a signal replaces the value in the box with a new value it notifies any consumers that the signal changed and those consumers update when it’s their turn to execute a consumer in this context is any code that’s interested in notifications when the signal changes how does our code show it’s interested and receiving notifications if the code reads a signal that code is notified when the signal changes if the template reads a signal that template is notified when the signal changes and the template will be re-rendered but it’s important to note that a signal does not emit values so it isn’t like an observable here is an example this isn’t very real world but this code could do something such as check a minimum quantity and reset to that minimum or check against a maximum quantity and reset to that maximum setting a new signal replaces the signal value in the box and provides a notification hey I’ve changed hey I’ve changed hey I’ve changed but if it changes multiple times before the value is read the consumers will only see the current or most recent value when it’s time to re-render the template The Binding reads the current value only it knows nothing about the prior signal values

so we’ve looked at the set method which replaces the signal value with a new value use the update method to update the value based on its current value we provide an arrow function that passes in the current value we can then make any changes to that value here we multiply it by two to change the content of a signal not the signal itself use mutate mutate updates the value of an array element or an object property in place in this example we update the vehicle’s price to a new price each of these cases make some change to the value in the Box notifies any consumers that the signal has changed and those consumers update or re-render as needed as we saw at the beginning with adding X and Y we can create a computed signal a computed signal recomputes when its dependent signals change we call the computed creation function and pass in a computation function to compute the value in that computation function we read the values of any dependent signals computed creates a new signal that depends on other signals a computed signal is read only it cannot be modified with set update or mutate the computed value is recomputed when one or more of its dependent signals are changed and the value is read the computed value is memoized meaning it stores the computed result that computed value is reused next time the computed value is read for example say our template reads extended price in three places in the template the computed value is only calculated once it reuses that stored value for the other two times it’s read lastly we have effects use an effect if you want to run some code when a signal changes and that code has side effects create an effect with the effect creation function pass it a function with the code to execute the code is then re-executed when it’s notified of a change to one of its dependent signals think of an effect like an observable tap operator that automatically subscribes to the signal we can add the effect to a method such as a Constructor or we can call it declaratively calling in effect should not change the value in the Box the effect is run when one or more of its dependent signals is changed and it’s this code’s turn to execute again it’s important to note that signals don’t emit values so if the signal is changed multiple times before an effects code can be executed the effect will only read the current value the log will only display 42 in the console we’ll see this in action in the upcoming demo when should we use effects if we want to do logging as we’ve just seen in those examples or if we want to call external apis not including rxjs you’ll find that you won’t use effects very often


before moving on let’s take a moment and talk about signals and templates here is an example template we use a signal in the ngFor and in bindings for our vehicle name price and total price during template rendering reading a signal Returns the signal value it also registers the signal as a dependency of the view if the signal changes the view is re-rendered so the act of reading the signal registers that signal as a dependency of the view the view then knows that it should re-render when any of its dependent signals change in angular V16 signals are available as a developer preview they are integrated into the existing change detection model you can also use on push change detection if desired signals will mark on push components for check similar to how the async pipe works here are some suggestions for how to use signals continue to use event handlers for user actions use a signal or computed for any state or data that could change put shared signals and services continue to use observables for async operations such as HTTP get there will be features to map signals to and from and observable now let’s move on to our demo we’re going to use stack Blitz which is an online editor we’re going to edit the package.json to V16 next so we can use these new features we can then refresh the dependencies and we can try it out check out the video notes below for the link to my stop Blitz let’s jump into a demo I’ve opened stock Blitz using the link on the slides and I’m going to click a new angular project notice our dependencies are all currently angular v15 so we’re going to go to the package.json file the next thing we want to do is we want to try setting the quantity to something else so let’s go ahead and add a select to save myself some typing I’m just going to paste it in and what this does is it has an NG model with our quantity and it’s calling an on quantity selected method which it’s telling us we don’t have yet and we’re binding to two things so we’re binding to that quantity with our NG model and in our ngFor we’re binding to an array which is our quantity available you know normally we
would get this from an inventory system to know how many are available but we’re going to hard code in an array so let’s start with that I’m going to do an array we’re going to call it quantity available and set it equal to a signal that is an array and we want to set the signal to one two three four five six quantity available now is a signal that is an array with with one through six in it so those will be the options that we have in our drop down the other thing we need is this on quantity selected and
we’re passing into that method the quantity and in our code here then we can change that quantity now it’s complaining about ngModel it always complains about that because ngModel is part of forms so for that to work we need to import forms module and that does just like that all right now if you haven’t seen it this uses Standalone components which was new in v15 as a preview in v15 if you’re not familiar with it it just means that we can run without an angular module so if you notice here there is no
angular module but that has nothing to do with signals you can completely do modules and the signals still work those two are two entirely separate and distinct features but here now we have our drop down and notice that it did correctly bind to our signal array that we have here and if we pick one you’ll notice that it is correctly binding to that now notice that our console log here did not recognize that change that’s because in the Constructor it only executes this code once so if we actually want to see it every time it’s changed we could do that in a an effect so we can do a quantity effect and again you don’t don’t do these very often we’re going to just do it so that we can do some debugging here would probably want to remove this when our code was actually done and I’m just going to paste in the console log to save myself some typing and we need to add this effect to our import so now we can see that it says the latest quantity is one if I pick a different value it now displays that the quantity is 3. okay so let’s try something else let’s go ahead and our code here and we’re going to try setting the quantity to 5 and we’re going to set it again 242. that because that’s because that’s a magic number all right so when we change the quantity and it calls this on quantity selected it sets the quantity to six then to 5 then to 42 when this code is finished executing then the effect is executed and it only retrieves the last value the most recent value which is the 42. all right so we’re going to comment that out all right so what else do we want to do let’s try doing an update so let’s say we’re having a two for one sale and we want to in our Constructor when this comes up we want to update the quantity to twice the quantity so we can take this dot quantity and update it and it gives us the quantity and what we can do is take that quantity and multiply it by two so now you can see that it’s defaulting to 2 here and if I pick something we can see that the last quantity now is four
if I pick one it shows that the quantity is one so it’s always showing us the most recent value that’s set into our quantity signal now let’s try creating a signal that’s an object and I’m just going to paste mine and it wants the definition of what a vehicle is so I’m just going to stick it in here of course this would normally be in a service but we’re just going to put our interface here for our vehicle and our vehicle consists of an ID which is a number or a name which is a string and price which is a number okay so now we’re good with that so here is our vehicle as another example we can also create an array of vehicles which would be a signal of an array now here in this case it has no idea what kind of array that I want here this knew that it was a setable signal of number array but in this case it’s any because it has no idea so in this case we might want to strongly type that and say that this array is going to be a v Circle array and now it will know its correct type and let’s add a computed value up here we’re going to calculate an extended price and that is going to be a computed and in the computed function we’re going to say this dot selected vehicle we need to pull that out of the box because that’s the signal so we need to do the open and closing parentheses we’re going to take its price and multiply it by our quantity and again that’s an error because we need to call the getter and pull it out of that box and for our computed we need to update the import let’s add some more information to our template then I’m just going to paste that in prevent you from having to watch me type it all in but basically I added a div element for the vehicle name one for the price and then one for the total which is the extended price so that’s our price times the quantity so you can see here that it it took my default signal value of 1 down here it updated that to be twice that so it’s 2 when that was changed it recalculated the extended price and updated it on the template so now if we change it to three we’ll see that it correctly calculated our total and if we change it to 5 it will again correctly calculate our total so the last thing that I want to show here is mutate we’ve already tried set and update so mutate is all that’s left so here in our Constructor so we have a place to run the code we’re going to say this dot selectedvehicle dot mutate because we want to update just part of what’s in the selected vehicle and it’s going to give us that vehicle and then we can do our Arrow function we’re going to say we want to update the price and have it equal to the price plus price times 0.2 kind of have an Interstellar price increase there on our vehicle so you can see that it correctly recalculated the price and the total automatically reacted and displayed the correct total there so we don’t have any code that’s needing to do anything to tell the UI to update we don’t have to write Behavior subjects in here we don’t have to do anything fancy we just create signals and then we’re good to roll if you don’t want to type all of this in you can just open my stack Blitz that has all of this code in it check out

import { Component, computed, effect, OnInit, signal } from '@angular/core';
import { CommonModule } from '@angular/common';
import { FormsModule } from '@angular/forms'; // Import FormsModule

@Component({
  selector: 'signals',
  templateUrl: './signals.component.html',
  styleUrls: ['./signals.component.css'],
  imports: [CommonModule, FormsModule],
  standalone: true,
})
export class SignalsComponent implements OnInit {
  constructor() {}

  quantity = signal(1);
  quantityAvailable = signal([1, 2, 3, 4, 5]);
  qtyEff = effect(() => console.log('latest QTY ', this.quantity()));


  ngOnInit() {
    this.quantity.update((qty) => qty * 2);
  }
  onQuantitySelected(qty: number) {
    this.quantity.set(qty);
  }
}


<select
  class="form-control"
  name="dropdown"
  [ngModel]="quantity()"
  (change)="onQuantitySelected($any($event.target).value)"
>
  <option value="">--select quantity--</option>
  <option *ngFor="let q of quantityAvailable()">{{ q }}</option>
</select>
<hr />
<p>SelectedVehicle : {{ selectedVehicle().name }}</p>
<p>Price : {{ selectedVehicle().price }}</p>
<p>Total : {{ exPrice() }}</p>

by kushan