Angular's Change Detection: Performance Optimization Techniques

Anton Ioffe - December 6th 2023 - 10 minutes read

Welcome to the deep dive on fine-tuning Angular's powerful yet oft-misunderstood facet—change detection. As a seasoned developer, you understand that performance is paramount; it's the lifeblood of seamless user experiences in modern web applications. In this exploration, we steer away from elementary doctrines and delve into sophisticated strategies that will embolden your Angular applications to reach remarkable efficiency. Guided by a treasure map of advanced patterns ranging from the adept OnPush to the nuanced wielding of ChangeDetectorRef, join us as we unravel the art of optimizing change detection within a wider performance strategy, empowering you to architect applications that stand the test of scale with finesse. Prepare to be both the architect and the artisan of performant Angular applications as we embark on this expedition together.

Embracing OnPush for Change Detection Efficiency

Angular's default change detection mechanism aggressively checks each component for updates, which can lead to performance bottlenecks in complex applications. To address this, the OnPush change detection strategy provides a more efficient alternative. When a component declares an OnPush strategy, Angular's change detector only checks the component when its input properties receive new references or events occur that mark the component for checking. This significantly reduces the frequency of change detection cycles, cutting down on unnecessary processing and potential jank in user interfaces.

Understanding the interplay between default and OnPush strategies is crucial for optimizing your application. By default, Angular treats components as mutable and assumes that any change could occur at any time. This leads to every component being checked whenever change detection runs. In contrast, OnPush presumes that components do not need constant checks and only require attention when new references are passed to their input properties. This assumption allows for skipping entire subtrees in the component hierarchy, excluding them from each change detection cycle if their input references remain the same.

To put OnPush into action, set the changeDetection property to ChangeDetectionStrategy.OnPush within the @Component decorator. This signals to Angular that the component relies on immutability and should not be checked unless a new reference is passed to its inputs or an event inside the component triggers change detection. Here's a code snippet demonstrating an Angular component employing OnPush:

import { Component, Input, ChangeDetectionStrategy } from '@angular/core';

  selector: 'app-on-push-component',
  template: `<!-- your component's template here -->`,
  changeDetection: ChangeDetectionStrategy.OnPush
export class OnPushComponent {
  @Input() data: any;

  // other properties and methods

The effectiveness of OnPush is closely tied to observing best practices around immutable data structures. For a component using OnPush to be accurately checked and updated, developers should work with immutable state and ensure that input properties are being replaced with new references, not just mutated. This aligns with Angular’s change detection mechanism that relies on reference checking to see if inputs have changed.

When considering the application of OnPush in large-scale projects, bear in mind that complex hierarchies can result in components with mixed change detection strategies. While top-level components may still use the default strategy, strategic adoption of OnPush in heavily nested components or components with frequently updating data can significantly boost performance. Thoughtfully apply OnPush to balance performance and development effort, reserving it for components where it makes the most sense. When used correctly, OnPush can transform the responsiveness of an application, allowing developers to craft smooth and scalable interfaces.

Immutable Data Structures: A Cornerstone for Change Detection

As we delve into the realm of Angular's change detection mechanisms, the importance of immutable data structures comes to the forefront, particularly when paired with the OnPush change detection strategy. Immutable data structures pave the way for predictable app states by preventing unintended side effects and ensuring that any changes to the data must occur through the generation of new objects. This paradigm complements OnPush, as it relies on the integrity of object references to determine when change detection should be triggered. Consequently, the usage of immutables fosters a performance gain by streamlining change detection cycles and reducing the overhead in tracking changes.

In the context of Angular, adopting immutability can be facilitated through TypeScript. By leveraging TypeScript’s readonly keyword, developers can create objects and arrays that are immutable, thus providing a compile-time layer of enforcement that complements the runtime behaviors of Angular. For instance, if you define an object or array as readonly, any attempt to mutate it will result in a TypeScript compilation error. This fosters an environment where developers are nudged towards creating immutable patterns by default.

However, managing immutability is not entirely free of challenges. For developers accustomed to mutable data patterns, there might be a learning curve, as it requires a shift in mindset and a different approach to manipulating data. Additionally, while TypeScript's readonly helps maintain immutability at the type level, ensuring profound immutability in nested structures might warrant the use of libraries like Immutable.js. These tools provide robust immutable data structures, such as List and Map, which offer fine-grained control over complex state management while still playing nicely within Angular’s change detection infrastructure.

import { List, Map } from 'immutable';
class DataService {
    private data: Map<string, any> = Map({});

    setData(key: string, value: any): void { =, value);

    // Use 'readonly' to prevent modification of the returned structure
    getData(key: string): Readonly<Map<string, any>> {

The above code snippet demonstrates how one might integrate Immutable.js with TypeScript to create a service that handles data storage. The setData method ensures that any change to the data results in a new instance of Map, which is essential for the OnPush change detection to kick in effectively. Furthermore, the getData method ensures that data consumers cannot directly modify the returned data.

Integrating immutable structures into an application not only affects performance but also has implications for code maintainability and readability. It requires developers to adopt practices such as spreading arrays and objects to create new instances or using state management libraries tailored to immutability. While the adoption of immutability may introduce a level of complexity, the payoff comes in the form of fewer accidental bugs, a cleaner codebase, and an application whose performance can scale more predictably as the project grows. Thus, the confluence of immutability with Angular's change detection strategies engenders a harmony of optimized performance and maintainable code architecture.

Leveraging ChangeDetectorRef for Tactical Updates

In the arsenal of a seasoned Angular developer, the ChangeDetectorRef class emerges as a strategic tool for optimizing application performance. Delve into methods like detectChanges() and markForCheck(), and you can achieve pinpoint accuracy in how and when you update the view. Consider a situation where an external library or a browser API alters the state outside Angular's zone. You have the ability to inject ChangeDetectorRef into the affected component and execute detectChanges() manually, thus harmonizing the view with the component's updated state.

Applying manual change detection effectively is a sophisticated skill. It involves not just the capability to initiate updates on demand, but also a deep understanding of when this approach serves the application best. The markForCheck() method allows you to intimate Angular about the change in a component's state, recommending that the component be verified during the forthcoming change detection cycle. This method helps skirt performance penalties by bypassing superfluous checks and reserving them for when they truly matter.

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

    selector: 'my-component',
    template: `<!-- component template here -->`
export class MyComponent {
    constructor(private cdr: ChangeDetectorRef) {}

    updateValue(newValue) {
        // Suppose newValue results from an update by an external library
        // Component state is updated here
        this.cdr.markForCheck(); // Line up a review for the upcoming change detection cycle

By using markForCheck() in the preceding example, change detection is queued up, optimizing the timing of it and thus conserving resources. The ChangeDetectorRef facilitates a controlled and deliberate approach to the component's lifecycle, curbing unnecessary renderings and enhancing the predictability of changes.

Yet, developers must stay alert to certain oversights, like failing to reattach a previously detached change detector. The detach() feature can suspend change detection to garner performance benefits but neglecting to reattach the change detector when necessary can cause the view to become outdated, not mirroring the current state. It's crucial to invoke reattach() when it's time for the component to re-enter the change detection flow:

toggleChangeDetection(isDetached) {
    if (isDetached) {
    } else {
        // Optionally, perform an immediate check if needed

Reflecting on these strategies raises essential considerations. Where in your application could targeted change detection alleviate performance pressure points? Can more strategic applications of ChangeDetectorRef curtail the load associated with Angular's proactive change detection? Judicious utilization of ChangeDetectorRef is a hallmark of a high-performance, nuanced Angular application.

Detecting Pitfalls: Avoiding Common Change Detection Missteps

Understanding and effectively implementing change detection in Angular can lead to significant performance gains, but missteps in this area can also introduce performance issues and bugs. Here are some common pitfalls in change detection and ways to avoid them.

Mutable Patterns in OnPush Components. A frequent oversight is the mutation of an object or array's state without changing the reference. This mutation won't trigger change detection in OnPush components, creating problems when the view doesn't update to reflect the new state. Always update the reference when the state changes:

// Incorrect: Mutating the existing array; won't trigger OnPush change detection

// Correct: Creating a new array reference
this.items = [...this.items, newItem];

Overusing Manual Triggers. The manual triggering of change detection can be a powerful tool, but overuse can lead to performance degradation akin to default change detection. Before invoking methods like detectChanges(), consider whether the same outcome can be achieved through Angular's built-in mechanisms or other optimizations:

// Incorrect: Excessive manual change detection

// Correct: Use Angular mechanisms like ngModel and async pipe to minimize manual changes

Avoiding Heavy Computations in Templates. Embedding complex expressions or functions in templates is a common mistake that can trigger costly change detection cycles and hinder application performance. Instead, compute values in the component and bind them to the template:

// Incorrect: Directly calling a complex computation in the template
{{ computeExpensiveOperation() }}

// Correct: Assign the result to a component property and reference it in the template
this.computedValue = this.computeExpensiveOperation();
<p>{{ computedValue }}</p>

Neglecting trackBy in ngFor. Utilizing ngFor without a trackBy function forces Angular to re-render the entire collection when an item changes. By providing a unique tracking function, you can reduce the workload and enhance performance:

// Incorrect: Using ngFor without trackBy; leads to unnecessary DOM updates
<li *ngFor="let item of items">{{ }}</li>

// Correct: Using ngFor with a trackBy function; updates only changed elements
<li *ngFor="let item of items; trackBy: trackById">{{ }}</li>

Ignoring the Benefits of Pure Pipes. Developers sometimes write impure pipes that trigger change detection cycles any time arguments change. Pure pipes, however, only execute when their input reference changes, not on every change detection cycle, thus conserving resources:

// Incorrect: Impure pipes that cause heavy change detection workload
  name: 'impureFilter',
  pure: false
export class ImpureFilterPipe implements PipeTransform { ... }

// Correct: Using pure pipes where appropriate
  name: 'pureFilter'
export class PureFilterPipe implements PipeTransform { ... }

With mindful consideration of these aspects, developers can circumvent common pitfalls and achieve an efficient change detection strategy, leading to a more responsive, scalable, and easier-to-maintain Angular application. Have you examined your application for inefficient change detection patterns recently?

Putting it All Together: Change Detection as Part of a Larger Performance Strategy

Change detection optimization is a nuanced feature of Angular's performance toolkit, but it's most effective when viewed as a component of a holistic performance strategy. Angular developers aim to minimize unnecessary rendering and checks, for which lazy loading is a fundamental strategy. Integrating lazy loading modules allows portions of the application to load only when needed, saving valuable initial loading time and system resources. However, once a module is loaded, it's here that judicious optimization of change detection comes into play. By utilizing the trackBy function with ngFor directives, Angular can more efficiently determine which items in a list have changed, avoiding the costly operations of re-rendering every DOM element in that list.

  selector: 'my-list',
  template: `
    <div *ngFor="let item of items; trackBy: trackByFunction">
class MyListComponent {
  items = [{id: 1, name: 'Item 1'}, {id: 2, name: 'Item 2'}];

  trackByFunction(index, item) {
    return; // Unique identifier for each item

Pure pipes also play a critical role within this systemic approach. They are executed only when a pure change is detected—a change to primitive input values or object-reference changes—a strategy that complements lazy loading by conserving resources and avoiding over-exertion of the change detection process on data that hasn't changed.

  name: 'capitalize',
  pure: true
export class CapitalizePipe implements PipeTransform {
  transform(value: string): string {
    return value.charAt(0).toUpperCase() + value.slice(1).toLowerCase();

A holistic perspective also acknowledges the interplay between change detection and the optimization of asynchronous operations. The usage of the async pipe within templates promotes a seamless integration with Observables, with Angular taking on the responsibility to manage subscriptions effectively. This aids in preventing memory leaks and reduces the need for boilerplate subscriber management code while simultaneously benefiting from the OnPush change detection strategy, which is implicitly tied to how async pipes trigger changes.

  selector: 'my-observable-component',
  template: `<div>{{data | async}}</div>`
export class MyObservableComponent {
  data: Observable<string>;

  constructor(private dataService: DataService) { = this.dataService.getDataStream();

It's crucial to note that while change detection strategies contribute significantly to performance, mistakes such as neglecting a trackBy function in complex lists or overusing impure pipes can reverse these gains. These pitfalls not only introduce performance bottlenecks but can also lead to a decrease in code maintainability and readability. Thinking about performance as a multifaceted goal, where change detection is a piece in a larger puzzle, drives the development of applications that are not only robust and scalable but also maintainable in the long run.


This article explores performance optimization techniques for Angular's change detection in modern web development. It discusses the benefits of using the OnPush change detection strategy, the importance of immutable data structures, and the tactical use of ChangeDetectorRef. The article also highlights common pitfalls to avoid and emphasizes the need to view change detection as part of a larger performance strategy. A challenging task for the reader could be to analyze their own application for inefficient change detection patterns and implement optimizations based on the techniques discussed in the article.

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