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How to Work with Observables in Angular 12

January 19, 2022

The JavaScript concept, Observables is very crucial when it comes to asynchronous programming or whenever you are handling events.

They play a significant role whenever message passage is required within an Angular application.

In this tutorial, we discuss the concepts of Angular observables, learn what they are, how they are used in Angular applications, and finally build a sample project.

Table of contents


To follow this tutorial along, you will need:

  • Basic knowledge of JavaScript (TypeScript may come in handy).
  • Basic knowledge of Angular 2+. In this tutorial, we use Angular version 12.
  • Local development environment setup. Ensure you have Angular CLI to help you set up your environment.
  • Basic concepts of reactive programming, especially the RxJs.
  • Also, prior knowledge in Promise would be important, but not necessary.

Getting started with observables

An Observable is a unique and straightforward Object similar to a Promise that can help manage async code.

When discussing the concept of observables, we may think of a web application with a newsletter form where subscribers receive messages while non-subscribers do not.

It’s a declarative way of defining methods in your application for publishing specified values that won’t be executed until a consumer subscribes.

One concept we constantly interact with when discussing observables is the use of an observer. Observers are used in defining the functions, in this case, (callback functions). These methods include next(), error(), and complete().

The observer objects are typically passed to observable methods as arguments. Then, the observable function calls these observer functions due to triggers such as events.

Sample JavaScript observable

With a basic idea of observables, let’s implement a sample observer class to get in-depth knowledge on how they work.

Open index.js file and add the following:

//define observable class here
class ObservableExample {
    //class constructor
    // add the argument to pass the function to take the observer
      this._methodToTakeObserver_ = methodToTakeObserver;
    // add a subscriber method and pass observer as argument
    // this method returns function that takes an observer
    subscribe(observer) {
      return this._methodToTakeObserver_(observer)
// create an instance of the observer class we defined above
let myObservableExample = new ObservableExample(observer => {
  setTimeout(() => {
    // observer next data executed after 5s"I have got the response!")
  }, 5000)

let myObserverExample = {
  next(response) {
  error(err) {
  complete() {
    console.log("The request has been completed successfully")

// Upon execution
// (5 seconds) I have got the response!
// (5 seconds ) The request has been completed successfully

observer response

You will notice from the above script that we define our class and its constructor. We then proceed to pass an argument to this constructor.

We then proceeded to define another function, subscriber(). It takes an argument, observer, and then passes it to our defined constructor.

Next, we instantiate our class ObservableExample which is then assigned to our local variable myObservableExample.

Previously, we had created a constructor for this class; hence we pass in an observer as a parameter function.

Additionally, we use the timer method since we assume that an HTTP response takes some time, hence the mimic. In our case, we use a rather worst-case scenario of 5s.

It’s important to note that responses from the server may take some time to arrive. We have therefore used the setTimout() method to mimic this functionality. You may as well set the time that meets your demands.

As you may recall, we discussed that observers have some methods. In this case, we call the next() and complete() operations.

Finally, we implement the callback functions that our observable sends. We then run our observable whenever a subscription occurs (via the subscribe() method).


// Upon execution
// ( 5 seconds) I have got the response!
// (5 seconds ) The request has been completed successfully

Setting up the project

Now that we’ve basic concepts of an observable in pure JavaScript, let’s proceed and set up our Angular 12 project.

First, open the terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T), and run the following commands:

ng new observable-example


Next, create an observable component by running the following commands:

ng g component observable

To ensure that observable component works effectively, edit the app.component.html template as shown below:


The above element ensures that changes are reflected on the browser, whenever we edit our observer component since we’re using the app component as our root.

Now your component is fully functional!

Define and create observables in Angular

To create an observer is simple in Angular, unlike the previous example where we defined everything from scratch.

Here, we call the already defined class Observable from the RxJs and then pass the necessary arguments, as we will see shortly.

Create an API service by running the following commands:

ng g service api

Next, proceed and edit the service as shown below:

// edit the api.service.ts file
import { Injectable } from '@angular/core';
import {HttpClient} from "@angular/common/http";
import {Observable} from "rxjs";//notice we import the observable from RxJS

  providedIn: 'root'
// define our class constructor
// inject the http client (Dependency injection)
constructor(private httpClient:HttpClient) { }

// a method to fetch all clients from some server 
public getAll(): Observable<any>{
   return this.httpClient.get('');

We have defined the above service since we interact primarily with observable concepts when making API requests in Angular.

We inject the HTTP client in the above code, which makes API requests to a remote server.

Next, we are now sure that our API returns an observable.

To subscribe to this observable, let’s now edit the observable component as shown below:

//edit the observable.component.ts file as follows
import { Component, OnInit } from '@angular/core';
import {ApiService} from "../api.service";
import {Observable} from "rxjs";
import {User} from "../user";

  selector: 'app-observable',
  templateUrl: './observable.component.html',
  styleUrls: ['./observable.component.css']
clients$: Observable<User[]>
  constructor(private apiService:ApiService) { }

  ngOnInit(): void {

   * get all users
      .subscribe(data => {
        this.clients$ = data;

Next, edit the template to list the clients as follows:

<!--edit the observable.component.html template as follows -->
<h3>Clients List</h3>
    <li *ngFor="let client of clients$">
        {{ client.first_name }} {{ client.last_name }}

You notice from the script above that we’re importing the service we had previously created.

We then use the concept of dependency injection to inject this service into our component constructor.

We have also created a User interface to act as our user model. We then define the public property clients$ with the suffix $ to indicate that it’s observable.

It’s important to note that it’s not a must to define an observable with the suffix $. It’s only a recommendation to ensure that our code remains clean.

Next, we define the method getClients(). Using this method, we subscribe to it such that whenever we receive the user’s list, we get that value and pass it to the clients$ public variable.

We may also modify the getClients() method to handle errors that may result from the API.

      .subscribe(data => {
        this.clients$ = data;
      }, error=>{

Notice that we pass both the response and the error as callbacks, as we had defined them manually in the previous section.

Well, this is just one way of working with observables in Angular.

The other way involves using pipes in the template, as we will learn shortly.

// define another method in the observable.component.ts  file
    this.clients$ = this.apiService.getAll();

The reason why this method is more efficient as compared to the previous is that it avoids memory leaks since our subscriptions are not left open.

Additionally, this method ensures that we don’t have to worry about our subscriptions management since it’s being handled for us by the application.

Now that we understand the importance of this method, let’s edit our template to ensure subscription during the lifecycle of our component.

    <li *ngFor="let client of clients$ | async">
        {{ uclientser.first_name }}  {{ client.last_name }}

Notice that we’re using the async pipe. The async pipe ensures our observable’s automatic subscribe/unsubscribe operations.

Defining manual observables

Previously, we defined our class for observables and worked with basic examples.

However, JavaScript has a library, RxJS (Reactive Extension for Javascript), that we can use to handle our observables.

Now, create a file, index.ts, and edit it as described below:

//import an observable from the rxjs
import { Observable } from "rxjs/Observable"
// next, create observable
const exampleObservable = new Observable((observer) => {}

After defining the above instance, you can follow our previous examples to implement observables that meet your needs.


This article has explored the concepts of observables in both JavaScript, TypeScript, and Angular.

We have seen how to create a sample class to build our observables. However, we have also noticed alternatives to building observables in TypeScript.

This involves the use of reactive programming concepts, i’e RxJS.

Additionally, we have seen how we can subscribe to our observables in Angular. This involves the use of pipe and open subscription in the component.

Happy coding!

Peer Review Contributions by: Miller Juma