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AngularJS Promise / RxJS Comparison

Talk video thumbnail


This small example application is meant to illustrate that:

  • Straightforward AngularJS 1.x promise-based applications often have defects in
    real-world conditions of variale backend response latency.
  • These can be easily avoided using RxJS…
  • … which is also more future-ready
  • … and often requires less code.

Wait – AngularJS in 2017?

At Oasis Digital, we don’t use AngularJS in any new applications, and only have
a few of our own applications still using AngularJS. We moved early and eagerly
to Angular (2+). But we still teach AngularJS, and assist customers with
AngularJS, who have large, complex, business-critical applications built on it.

Therefore – yes – we still spend a (very) small portion of our time thinking
about AngularJS in 2017.

Running the demo

npm install
npm start

Then navigate to:


Demo application features

This is a very simple demo application. It presents a list of people, offering
simple filter and sort controls.

The actual filtering occurs on the server side – this example application ships
with an off-the-shelf json-server, which has built in filtering capability.

Two approaches

The application is coded two different ways. Other than the bits listed in the
headings below, the code is shared between the two approaches, and is vanilla
AngularJS code. There are a a few bits worthy of note:

  • ES2015 classes are used – these work fine, right in the browser, for AngularJS
    controllers and services. (To support IE though, a compiler would be needed –
    and easily provided in a real project.)
  • In js/random-promise-delay.js there are promise gymnastics, a function which
    can be inserted in a promise chain to delay values.


The promise-based code is in the employee-list-promise directory. It is very
straightforward to read, and in casual use, appears to function correctly.

Unfortunately, this code has a defect, shared with numberous production AngularJS applications – i

To see this glitch occur:

  • Edit employee-loader.js as below.
  • Reload the page.
  • Click quickly between the first few names.
  • Observe that sometimes, the most recent name you clicked on does not match the
    name on the right side of the screen!

  const API_LATENCY = 100;
  const API_JITTER = 100;

The cause of this trouble is invisible with an instatanous server over a fast
network – and hard to avoid in production deployment, where load and latency can
and do vary. HTTP requests can complete in a different order than they were
started, and promises do nothing to prevent that.

It is possible to avoid these glitches with a promise-based approach, but it is
tedious and more work than the alternative.


The RxJS-based code is in the employee-list-rxjs-async directory.

Promises are about single events; RxJS observables are about a series of values.
Important, an observable stream automatically, always keeps its value in order.
This ordering property turns out to be vital to correct operation in real-world
asyncronous code. It easily solves the defects demonstrated here.

The RxJS-based code is also slighlty shorter than the typical AngularJS 1.x
promise-centric solution, and the template is the same length. To achieve that,
the follow backport of the async Pipe from Angular 2 is very useful:

See the video for much more explanation.

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Posted in Development