What is the Angular equivalent to an AngularJS $watch?

The question:

In AngularJS you were able to specify watchers to observe changes in scope variables using the $watch function of the $scope. What is the equivalent of watching for variable changes (in, for example, component variables) in Angular?

The Solutions:

Below are the methods you can try. The first solution is probably the best. Try others if the first one doesn’t work. Senior developers aren’t just copying/pasting – they read the methods carefully & apply them wisely to each case.

Method 1

In Angular 2, change detection is automatic… $scope.$watch() and $scope.$digest() R.I.P.

Unfortunately, the Change Detection section of the dev guide is not written yet (there is a placeholder near the bottom of the Architecture Overview page, in section “The Other Stuff”).

Here’s my understanding of how change detection works:

  • Zone.js “monkey patches the world” — it intercepts all of the asynchronous APIs in the browser (when Angular runs). This is why we can use setTimeout() inside our components rather than something like $timeout… because setTimeout() is monkey patched.
  • Angular builds and maintains a tree of “change detectors”. There is one such change detector (class) per component/directive. (You can get access to this object by injecting ChangeDetectorRef.) These change detectors are created when Angular creates components. They keep track of the state of all of your bindings, for dirty checking. These are, in a sense, similar to the automatic $watches() that Angular 1 would set up for {{}} template bindings.
    Unlike Angular 1, the change detection graph is a directed tree and cannot have cycles (this makes Angular 2 much more performant, as we’ll see below).
  • When an event fires (inside the Angular zone), the code we wrote (the event handler callback) runs. It can update whatever data it wants to — the shared application model/state and/or the component’s view state.
  • After that, because of the hooks Zone.js added, it then runs Angular’s change detection algorithm. By default (i.e., if you are not using the onPush change detection strategy on any of your components), every component in the tree is examined once (TTL=1)… from the top, in depth-first order. (Well, if you’re in dev mode, change detection runs twice (TTL=2). See ApplicationRef.tick() for more about this.) It performs dirty checking on all of your bindings, using those change detector objects.
    • Lifecycle hooks are called as part of change detection.
      If the component data you want to watch is a primitive input property (String, boolean, number), you can implement ngOnChanges() to be notified of changes.
      If the input property is a reference type (object, array, etc.), but the reference didn’t change (e.g., you added an item to an existing array), you’ll need to implement ngDoCheck() (see this SO answer for more on this).
      You should only change the component’s properties and/or properties of descendant components (because of the single tree walk implementation — i.e., unidirectional data flow). Here’s a plunker that violates that. Stateful pipes can also trip you up here.
  • For any binding changes that are found, the Components are updated, and then the DOM is updated. Change detection is now finished.
  • The browser notices the DOM changes and updates the screen.

Other references to learn more:

Method 2

This behaviour is now part of the component lifecycle.

A component can implement the ngOnChanges method in the OnChanges interface to get access to input changes.


import {Component, Input, OnChanges} from 'angular2/core';

  selector: 'hero-comp',
  templateUrl: 'app/components/hero-comp/hero-comp.html',
  styleUrls: ['app/components/hero-comp/hero-comp.css'],
  providers: [],
  directives: [],

  pipes: [],
  inputs:['hero', 'real']
export class HeroComp implements OnChanges{
  @Input() hero:Hero;
  @Input() real:string;
  constructor() {
  ngOnChanges(changes) {

Method 3

If, in addition to automatic two-way binding, you want to call a function when a value changes, you can break the two-way binding shortcut syntax to the more verbose version.

<input [(ngModel)]="yourVar"></input>

is shorthand for

<input [ngModel]="yourVar" (ngModelChange)="yourVar=$event"></input>

(see e.g. http://victorsavkin.com/post/119943127151/angular-2-template-syntax)

You could do something like this:

<input [(ngModel)]="yourVar" (ngModelChange)="changedExtraHandler($event)"></input>

Method 4

You can use getter function or get accessor to act as watch on angular 2.

See demo here.

import {Component} from 'angular2/core';

  // Declare the tag name in index.html to where the component attaches
  selector: 'hello-world',

  // Location of the template for this component
  template: `
  <button (click)="OnPushArray1()">Push 1</button>
    I'm array 1 {{ array1 | json }}
  <button (click)="OnPushArray2()">Push 2</button>
    I'm array 2 {{ array2 | json }}
  I'm concatenated {{ concatenatedArray | json }}
    I'm length of two arrays {{ arrayLength | json }}
export class HelloWorld {
    array1: any[] = [];
    array2: any[] = [];

    get concatenatedArray(): any[] {
      return this.array1.concat(this.array2);

    get arrayLength(): number {
      return this.concatenatedArray.length;

    OnPushArray1() {

    OnPushArray2() {

Method 5

Here is another approach using getter and setter functions for the model.

  selector: 'input-language',
  template: `
export class InputLanguageComponent {

  set query(value) {
    this._query = value;
    console.log('query set to :', value)

  get query() {
    return this._query;

Method 6

If you want to make it 2 way binding, you can use [(yourVar)], but you have to implement yourVarChange event and call it everytime your variable change.

Something like this to track the hero change

@Output() heroChange = new EventEmitter();

and then when your hero get changed, call this.heroChange.emit(this.hero);

the [(hero)] binding will do the rest for you

see example here:


Method 7

This does not answer the question directly, but I have on different occasions landed on this Stack Overflow question in order to solve something I would use $watch for in angularJs. I ended up using another approach than described in the current answers, and want to share it in case someone finds it useful.

The technique I use to achieve something similar $watch is to use a BehaviorSubject (more on the topic here) in an Angular service, and let my components subscribe to it in order to get (watch) the changes. This is similar to a $watch in angularJs, but require some more setup and understanding.

In my component:

export class HelloComponent {
  name: string;
  // inject our service, which holds the object we want to watch.
  constructor(private helloService: HelloService){
    // Here I am "watching" for changes by subscribing
    this.helloService.getGreeting().subscribe( greeting => {
      this.name = greeting.value;

In my service

export class HelloService {
  private helloSubject = new BehaviorSubject<{value: string}>({value: 'hello'});
  // similar to using $watch, in order to get updates of our object 
  getGreeting(): Observable<{value:string}> {
    return this.helloSubject;
  // Each time this method is called, each subscriber will receive the updated greeting.
  setGreeting(greeting: string) {
    this.helloSubject.next({value: greeting});

Here is a demo on Stackblitz

Method 8

Try this when your application still demands $parse, $eval, $watch like behavior in Angular


All methods was sourced from stackoverflow.com or stackexchange.com, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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