Customizing Angular's Default Change Detection for Performance

Anton Ioffe - November 29th 2023 - 10 minutes read

In the ever-evolving landscape of modern web development, mastering JavaScript frameworks like Angular is paramount for delivering high-performance applications. Our deep dive into Angular’s change detection mechanism reveals the sophisticated dance between Zone.js and Angular’s rendering engine, equipping you to tailor this intricate system for optimal efficiency. Whether you're wrestling with the nuances of Default versus OnPush strategies, seeking ways to harness immutability for lightning-fast UI updates, or steering through the labyrinth of manual change detection control in sprawling applications, this exploration offers actionable insights and advanced techniques that can elevate your project to the pinnacle of responsiveness. Join us as we unravel these complexities, delivering knowledge that will empower you to confidently customize change detection to meet and exceed the demands of today's dynamic web environments.

Demystifying Zone.js and Angular Change Detection Mechanisms

Zone.js is a pivotal element in Angular's architecture, particularly for its change detection mechanism, which is central to ensuring the UI reflects the latest application state. As a library, Zone.js extends the browser's asynchronous APIs such as DOM events, setTimeout(), and AJAX requests, wrapping them to provide hooks for Angular to latch onto. The cornerstone of Zone.js's operation lies in its ability to 'monkey-patch' these APIs, which involves replacing the native functions with custom functions that perform the original task while also notifying Angular of their completion.

These custom-wrapped functions ensure Angular is informed whenever an asynchronous task is concluded. Such interception is crucial because it provides Angular with the signals it needs to check whether the model has updated and, therefore, whether the view needs to be refreshed to stay in sync. This is done through Zone.js's patching mechanism, where standard browser operations are augmented to support the recognition of changes, which seamlessly integrates with Angular's change detection.

The integration of Zone.js with Angular is manifested through the NgZone service. This service acts as Angular's execution context for tracking asynchronous operations. When operations occur within this context, NgZone signals Angular to trigger change detection processes. This implicit invocation means that developers often do not need to manually intervene to ensure the UI is updated; Angular takes care of these updates as part of its lifecycle, reacting to asynchronous events initiated by the user or the system.

However, it's important to note that Zone.js doesn't cover all asynchronous APIs in the browser. As of the latest knowledge, asynchronous callbacks from IndexedDB operations, for example, are not wrapped by Zone.js, which could result in missed change detection cycles. This signifies that, although Angular's change detection is largely automated, there are exceptions where it might not function as expected without manual adjustment or additional coding.

Understanding this system's inner workings is not just an academic endeavor; it has practical implications for application performance. Excessive or unnecessary change detection cycles can lead to performance bottlenecks, particularly in complex applications or those with frequent asynchronous events. Therefore, while Angular's change detection, with the help of Zone.js, largely 'just works', a deep comprehension of these mechanisms allows developers to navigate and optimize the performance of their Angular applications more effectively.

Angular Change Detection Strategies: Default vs OnPush

In Angular's default change detection strategy, change detection runs across all components' properties and template expressions whenever an event occurs that could influence the view. This strategy traverses the entire component hierarchy from top to bottom, ensuring consistency by comparing values to detect changes. Although this strategy guarantees a synchronized view, it can result in performance issues in sprawling applications where an extensive check occurs for the entire component tree, including areas where changes are localized.

The OnPush change detection strategy offers performance enhancements by strategically limiting when checks are conducted. Components with the ChangeDetectionStrategy.OnPush setting perform change detection only under certain circumstances: when there is a change in an input property, an event emitted from the component or its children, or when a new value is emitted from an observable via the async pipe. Additionally, developers can manually invoke change detection when needed. The key premise behind OnPush is the notion that changes are detected through new object references, suggesting an alignment with immutable data patterns for maximum efficacy.

Using OnPush, developers must treat data as immutable for the strategy to perform as intended, which may necessitate changes in state management practices. Mutations to an object's properties will not be acknowledged by OnPush components unless a new object instance is supplied. Activities that occur within a component, which do not result in output events or new input references, won't trigger change detection unless a deliberate operation flags the component for a check.

A common oversight with OnPush is failing to recognize that updates are contingent on explicitly new references or event emissions, which can lead to undetected state changes. Misapplications of manual methods to compensate for this, such as continually invoking markForCheck() or detectChanges(), can paradoxically thwart the performance benefits of using OnPush, making code harder to manage.

Selecting between the Default and OnPush change detection strategies should be determined by the nature of the application. The Default strategy requires no additional considerations and suits small to mid-sized projects. On the other hand, OnPush is preferable for applications emphasizing performance, frequently composed of numerous components, or with involved data interactions. It necessitates a thoughtful approach to state management through immutability and disciplined use of change detection triggers, leading to optimized rendering processes. Evaluating the application's structure alongside the development team's expertise with Angular's change detection subtleties is crucial for an informed strategy decision.

Leveraging Immutability for Efficient Change Detection

Leveraging immutability within Angular applications can substantially optimize change detection processes. By employing immutable data structures, we can ensure that the OnPush change detection strategy operates reliably and efficiently. Consider a scenario where our application makes use of large datasets—continual checks on mutable data can significantly impair performance. Immutable.js is a library that provides immutable primitives, like Map and List, which can assist developers in maintaining a consistent state within their applications. When a component relies on these immutable structures, we benefit from a guarantee: only creating a new object will trigger change detection, side-stepping potential bugs where modifications are missed due to a forgotten copy of an object.

import { Component, ChangeDetectionStrategy } from '@angular/core';
import { List, Map } from 'immutable';

    selector: 'app-immutable-list',
    template: `<ul>
        <li *ngFor="let item of list">{{ item.get('name') }}</li>
    changeDetection: ChangeDetectionStrategy.OnPush
export class ImmutableListComponent {
    list: List<Map<string, any>>;

    constructor() {
        this.list = List([Map({ id: 1, name: 'Item 1' })]);

    addItem(newItem) {
        this.list = this.list.push(Map(newItem));

Using Immutable.js, we have restructured data handling using List and Map from the library. By invoking addItem(), a new instance is created rather than mutating the original object. This immutable pattern integrates seamlessly with the OnPush strategy: since Angular's change detection is reference-based, any new object will signal that a component needs to be updated without preemptive checks on all data sources.

However, this approach does have its trade-offs. Developers need to adopt a different mindset as they are forced to work exclusively with immutable operations. This can increase the cognitive load, particularly when transforming complex datasets. Moreover, the additional overhead of creating new instances for changes can also have implications on memory usage, although this is generally offset by the efficiency gains in change detection cycles.

Another common pitfall is neglecting the immutability principle in parts of the application, which can break the expected behavior of the OnPush strategy. To avoid such a scenario, stringent code reviews and proper team training on immutability practices can mitigate risks. It's vital to consistently apply immutability to benefit from reduced change detection checks and avoid erratic application behavior.

// Problematic mutation (incorrect example)
updateItem(index, name) {
    // This is incorrect as it attempts to mutate an immutable data structure
    // this.list.get(index).set('name', name); // Will NOT trigger OnPush change detection

// Immutable update
updateItem(index, name) {
    const updatedItem = this.list.get(index).set('name', name);
    this.list = this.list.set(index, updatedItem); // Triggers OnPush change detection

In the updateItem function, we first obtain the immutable Map representing the item, apply the set operation to create a new instance with the updated name, and then set the new instance back into the list at the correct index. This enforced immutability triggers OnPush change detection as intended. The benefits of immutable data handling in Angular applications are clear: with disciplined adherence to immutability principles, developers can create highly performant applications where each component efficiently updates in response to actual data changes. It encourages a proactive consideration: how should state management strategies evolve within a component hierarchy to further capitalize on immutability?

Manual Change Detection Control: Advanced Techniques and Trade-offs

In the realm of Angular, the balance between performance and development convenience is inherently tied to how change detection is implemented and controlled. Detaching the change detector allows developers to take a granular approach to rendering updates, giving the reins to explicitly decide when the application state should reflect in the UI. This technique can be particularly useful when dealing with frequent high-volume data updates, such as streams from websockets. By detaching the change detector, we essentially freeze the automatic update process which is subsequently invoked manually. The following snippet showcases how a change detector can be detached and manually operated:

constructor(private changeDetectorRef: ChangeDetectorRef) {
    this.changeDetectorRef.detach(); // Detach the change detector

// Some event or data stream handler
onDataReceived(data) {
    // Handle data...

    // Trigger the change detection manually after specific intervals or conditions
    if (shouldUpdateView(data)) {

This method brings performance benefits by reducing unnecessary rendering when data mutates rapidly, yet it increases the complexity of managing update conditions. Developers must take extra care to avoid leaving the view stale or invoking detectChanges() excessively, which could impact performance negatively.

Lifecycle hooks in Angular, such as ngDoCheck, can be used to implement custom change detection logic. When combined with manual change detection techniques, they offer a powerful way to optimize performance. However, it comes at the cost of additional complexity, as state changes need to be meticulously tracked to avoid missing updates:

ngDoCheck() {
    if (this.customCheckForChanges()) {

Developers must ensure that conditions within these hooks are efficient to prevent them from becoming bottlenecks themselves. While this control provides a means to fine-tune performance, the added responsibility of determining the right moments to trigger updates falls squarely on the developer's shoulders.

When updates are purely internal and not dependant on external triggers such as input changes or events, one can temporarily disable the change detector and later re-enable it with reattach(). The strategy requires foresight into how component interactions affect performance; if a component doesn’t need to react to external changes all the time, detaching the change detector can be beneficial:

pauseChangeDetection() {

resumeChangeDetection() {

Here, the trade-off is between performance gains from reduced checks and the risk of UI inconsistency if the resumption of change detection is not managed accurately. The challenge is to ensure that a component's view is up-to-date at the moment the user interacts with it.

A profound understanding of the application's state and its interactivity requirements is imperative to effectively manipulate the change detection. Care must be taken when triggering updates manually to prevent common coding mistakes, such as updating the view in the middle of a running change detection cycle or missing an update after asynchronous operations complete.

Consider how you can intelligently utilize these techniques in your application: Can the view update frequency be reduced without hampering the user experience? Are you able to precisely determine when change detection is necessary, or is there a risk of introducing subtle bugs through manual interventions? Balancing these considerations will determine the overall suitability and success of adopting manual change detection control in your project.

In complex Angular applications with deep component trees, managing change detection efficiently is crucial to performance. One effective technique is to use lazy loading for modules and components. By only loading the necessary pieces of the application when needed, you reduce the initial payload and the number of components Angular has to keep track of for change detection. This becomes particularly useful for features that are not essential from the start, such as admin panels or secondary user flows.

Iterating over large lists can drastically impact performance as it can trigger numerous DOM manipulations. To optimize this, the trackBy function can be used in *ngFor directives. It helps Angular to identify which items have changed, been added, or removed, thus minimizing the DOM operations required during change detection. This has a pronounced effect on performance when dealing with frequent updates to large datasets.

Subscriptions to Observables can also lead to performance issues due to change detection being triggered excessively. Handling these subscriptions properly, by unsubscribing when components are destroyed, is important to prevent memory leaks and avoid unnecessary change detections. Using the async pipe wherever possible is beneficial as it takes care of subscribing and unsubscribing from Observables and only triggers change detection when a new value is emitted.

Architecting your application for performance involves comprehending how a centralized state management approach impacts change detection. Such a strategy can be integrated with Angular's change detection mechanism to ensure that only the parts of the UI needing update are affected. Components subscribing to precise slices of shared state will only undergo change detection when relevant updates in the state occur, allowing for a more efficient UI refresh.

Lastly, the overall architecture of the application can heavily influence change detection performance. Structuring components to have clear and finite data inputs can help in optimizing the change detection process. This not only makes the data flow easier to understand and debug but also helps in limiting the change detection to just the affected parts of the component tree. Moving computation-heavy tasks to web workers, throttling user input, or debouncing updates to the view are additional ways to ensure the application remains responsive without conducting more change detection cycles than necessary.


This article explores how to customize Angular's default change detection for improved performance in modern web development. It explains the role of Zone.js in Angular's change detection mechanism and the difference between the Default and OnPush change detection strategies. The article also discusses leveraging immutability for efficient change detection and manual change detection control techniques. The key takeaway is that by understanding and utilizing these techniques, developers can optimize the performance of their Angular applications. To challenge readers, the article prompts them to think about how they can intelligently utilize manual change detection control in their own applications, considering the balance between performance gains and the risk of introducing bugs.

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