DEV Community

Cover image for The Magic of Angular Change Detection: A Developer's Handbook

Posted on

The Magic of Angular Change Detection: A Developer's Handbook


Angular is a powerful JavaScript framework used for building dynamic and responsive web applications. One of the key features that sets Angular apart is its automatic change detection mechanism. In this article, we will delve deep into how Angular detects changes and updates the Document Object Model (DOM) accordingly.

How Does Angular Handle Change Detection?

Angular uses a mechanism known as "change detection" to keep track of changes in the application state and update the DOM as needed. This process is crucial for ensuring that the user interface reflects the current state of the application. Angular's change detection system can be seen as a two-step process:

  1. Data Binding: Angular employs data binding to connect the application's data (the model) with the DOM (the view). This connection enables the automatic synchronization of data changes with the DOM elements, eliminating the need for manual updates.

  2. Change Detection: Once data binding is in place, Angular continuously checks for changes in the application's data. When a change is detected, it updates the DOM to reflect the new state.

How Does Angular Know When to Check for Changes?

Angular is remarkably efficient in change detection. It knows exactly when and where to look for changes. It uses a unidirectional data flow, which means data flows in a single direction—from parent components to child components. This one-way data flow ensures that changes are detected only where they occur, preventing unnecessary checks and updates.

Additionally, Angular relies on zones to trigger change detection. Zones are execution contexts that allow Angular to intercept asynchronous operations like HTTP requests, timers, and events. When an asynchronous operation occurs, Angular knows that it might have caused changes and triggers change detection within the appropriate zone.

Change Detection Strategies

Angular provides a few different change detection strategies, allowing developers to optimize performance based on their application's needs. The two primary strategies are:

Default (Check Always)

In this strategy, Angular checks for changes in all components, every time an event occurs or a data binding update takes place. While this approach is straightforward, it can be inefficient in large applications with frequent updates.


The "OnPush" change detection strategy is a more optimized approach. It tells Angular to check for changes only in components where changes might have occurred, reducing the overall workload of the change detection process. Developers can specify this strategy at the component level, meaning that some components can use "OnPush" while others continue to use the default strategy.

Example of Change Detection in Angular

Let's explore a simple Angular example to illustrate how change detection works in practice. We'll create a component that increments a counter and displays the result. We'll also use the "OnPush" change detection strategy to optimize the process.

### Counter Component
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode
import { Component, Input, ChangeDetectionStrategy } from '@angular/core';

  selector: 'app-counter',
  template: `
      <button (click)="increment()">Increment</button>
      <p>Counter: {{ count }}</p>
  changeDetection: ChangeDetectionStrategy.OnPush
export class CounterComponent {
  count = 0;

  increment() {
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

In this example, we have created a CounterComponent with a button that increments the count property when clicked. We have also set the change detection strategy to "OnPush" to optimize the process.

App Component

import { Component } from '@angular/core';

  selector: 'app-root',
  template: `
export class AppComponent {}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The AppComponent simply includes the CounterComponent.

Main Module

import { BrowserModule } from '@angular/platform-browser';
import { NgModule } from '@angular/core';
import { AppComponent } from './app.component';
import { CounterComponent } from './counter.component';

  declarations: [AppComponent, CounterComponent],
  imports: [BrowserModule],
  bootstrap: [AppComponent]
export class AppModule {}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

In the main module, we declare both the AppComponent and CounterComponent to make them available in our Angular application.


Q1: What happens if I don't specify a change detection strategy for a component?

By default, Angular uses the "Check Always" change detection strategy. This means that Angular will check for changes in that component every time an event occurs or a data binding update takes place.

Q2: How can I change the change detection strategy for a specific component?

You can change the change detection strategy for a component by setting the changeDetection property in the @Component decorator. For example, you can use changeDetection: ChangeDetectionStrategy.OnPush to apply the "OnPush" strategy.

Q3: When should I use the "OnPush" change detection strategy?

The "OnPush" strategy is recommended for performance optimization. Use it when you want a component to check for changes only when its input properties change or when an event occurs within that component.


Angular's change detection mechanism is a fundamental aspect of how Angular keeps the DOM in sync with the application's data. Understanding the two primary change detection strategies, default and "OnPush," and knowing when to use each is crucial for building efficient and responsive Angular applications. By utilizing this knowledge, you can create applications that are not only robust but also performant.

In this article, we've explored how Angular handles change detection, and the strategies it offers, and provided a practical example to illustrate the concepts. Armed with this understanding, you're better equipped to make informed decisions when developing Angular applications. Happy coding!

For more in-depth information on Angular and its features, be sure to explore the official Angular documentation and tutorials.

Top comments (0)