xoxel xoxel - 2 months ago 13
Javascript Question

What is "track by" in AngularJS and how does it work?

I don't really understand how

track by
works and what it does.

My main goal is to use it with
ng-repeat
to add some precision.

Answer

Using track by to track strings & duplicate values

Normally ng-repeat tracks each item by the item itself. For the given array objs = [ 'one', 'one', 2, 'five', 'string', 'foo'], ng-repeat attempts to track changes by each obj in the ng-repeat="obj in objs". The problem is that we have duplicate values and angular will throw an error. One way to solve that is to have angular track the objects by other means. For strings, track by $index is a good solution as you really haven't other means to track a string.

track by & triggering a digest & input focuses

You allude to the fact you're somewhat new to angular. A digest is another way of saying a changes manifest in angular based on changes that occur through triggering actions. You click a button to update a model via ng-click, that registers that change in the digest cycle. I'm not too articulate in explaining that so you should investigate further if that didn't clarify things.

So back to track by. Let's use an example:

  1. call a service to return an array of objects
  2. update an object within the array and save object
  3. after save service, depending on what the API returns, you may:
    1. replace the whole object OR
    2. update a value on the existing object
  4. reflect change in ng-repeat UI

How you track this object will determine how the UI reflects the change.

One of the most annoying UXs I've experienced is this. Say you have a table of objects, each cell has an input where you want to in-line edit those objects' properties. I want to change the value, then on-blur, save that object while moving to the next cell to edit while you might be waiting on the response. So this is an autosave type thing. Depending on how you setup your track by statement, you may lose current focus (e.g. the field you're currently editing) when the response gets written back into your array of objects.

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