How to Use Angular Observables to Stream Real-time Data in Your Applications
Angular Observables Real-time data Asynchronous data streams RxJS Best practices Subscription management Transformation Reactivity Programming paradigm

José Matos

26 Mar 2023

How to Use Angular Observables to Stream Real-time Data in Your Applications

    How to Use Angular Observables to Stream Real-time Data in Your Applications

    Angular is one of the most popular web frameworks used to build dynamic and interactive web applications. One key feature of Angular is its support for observables, which are powerful tools for handling asynchronous data streams.

    In this article, we will explore what observables are, and how to use them to stream real-time data in your Angular applications. We will also examine some best practices to keep in mind when working with observables.

    What are Observables?

    In Angular, observables are a pattern for handling asynchronous data streams. An observable is essentially a function that returns a stream of events over time. These events can be any kind of data, whether it's a simple string or a complex object.

    Observables are particularly useful when working with real-time data, such as data from a live API or a websocket connection. Instead of repeatedly querying the API for updates, you can subscribe to the observable and receive updates in real-time as soon as they happen.

    Creating an Observable

    The first step in using observables in your Angular application is creating an observable instance. Observables can be generated in a number of ways, including converting an existing Promise to an observable or using an RxJS operator like of() or from().

    For example, let's say we have an API that returns real-time stock data. We could create an observable to stream that data as follows:

    import { Observable } from 'rxjs';
    const stockDataObservable = new Observable(observer => {
      // Connect to our API's websocket
      const socket = new WebSocket('wss://');
      // Handle incoming data
      socket.onmessage = event => {
        const stockData = JSON.parse(;;
      // Handle errors
      socket.onerror = error => {
      // Handle the connection closing
      socket.onclose = () => {
      // Return a cleanup function
      return () => {

    In the code above, we create a new observable that connects to our API's websocket and waits for incoming data. When data arrives, we emit an event using If there is an error, we emit an error using observer.error(). Finally, when the connection closes, we emit a completion event using observer.complete().

    Subscribing to an Observable

    Once we have created an observable, we can subscribe to it to start listening for events. When we subscribe to an observable, we provide a callback function that will be called every time an event is emitted.

    Here's an example of how to subscribe to the stockDataObservable we created earlier:

    const subscription = stockDataObservable.subscribe({
      next: stockData => {
        // Do something with the incoming stock data
      error: error => {
        // Handle any errors that occur
      complete: () => {
        // Handle the completion event

    In the code above, we create a subscription to the stockDataObservable and provide a callback object with three methods: next(), error(), and complete(). These methods will be called when an event is emitted, an error occurs, or when the observable completes, respectively.

    When you're done with the subscription, you can unsubscribe to stop listening for events:


    Best Practices for Using Observables in Angular

    Now that we understand how to create and subscribe to observables in Angular let's look at some best practices to keep in mind when working with them.

    1. Use Async Pipe Where Possible

    One common pattern in Angular is to use the async pipe to handle subscription management. With the async pipe, you can pass an observable directly to a template, and Angular will automatically subscribe and unsubscribe to the observable as needed.

    Here's an example:

    <div *ngIf="stockDataObservable | async as stockData">
      <p>Stock Data: {{ stockData | json }}</p>

    In the code above, we use the async pipe to subscribe to the stockDataObservable and bind the resulting data to the stockData variable. This means that the value of stockData will automatically update as new data arrives.

    Using the async pipe is a great way to manage subscriptions in templates, as it simplifies the code and helps avoid memory leaks. However, note that you can't access the subscription object directly when using the async pipe, so if you need fine-grained control over your subscriptions, you'll need to use the traditional approach of subscribing manually.

    2. Use Operators to Transform and Combine Data Streams

    One of the most powerful features of observables is their ability to transform and combine data in real-time. RxJS provides a wide variety of operators for performing common data transformations, such as mapping, filtering, and reducing.

    Here's an example of transforming an incoming stream of data using the map() operator:

    import { map } from 'rxjs/operators';
    const transformedObservable = stockDataObservable.pipe(
      map(data => {
        // Perform some transformation on the incoming data
        return transformedData;
    const subscription = transformedObservable.subscribe({
      next: transformedData => {
        // Do something with the transformed data

    In the code above, we use the pipe() method to chain the map() operator to our stockDataObservable. This operator transforms the incoming data and returns a new data stream that we can subscribe to separately.

    By using operators like map(), you can create powerful data pipelines that perform complex transformations on incoming data streams.

    3. Use Subjects for Reactive Programming

    Another powerful feature of observables is their ability to facilitate reactive programming. Reactive programming is a programming paradigm that focuses on building programs that react automatically to changes in data.

    One key tool for reactive programming in Angular is the Subject class. A Subject is a type of observable that allows you to push events from within your code, rather than relying solely on external data sources like APIs or websockets.

    Here's an example:

    import { Subject } from 'rxjs';
    const buttonClickedSubject = new Subject();
    // Listen for button clicks
    document.getElementById('my-button').addEventListener('click', () => {;
    // Respond to button clicks
    buttonClickedSubject.subscribe(() => {
      // Do something in response to the button click

    In the code above, we create a Subject called buttonClickedSubject, then listen for clicks on a button and push events to the subject. We also subscribe to the subject and define a callback function that will be called every time an event is emitted.

    Using Subjects is a powerful technique for building reactive applications, as it allows you to respond to user events in real-time and trigger updates throughout your application.


    Overall, observables are a powerful tool for handling real-time data streams in Angular applications. By creating observables and subscribing to their events, you can build applications that respond to data in real-time and provide a more dynamic and interactive user experience.

    When working with observables, it's important to keep best practices in mind, such as using the async pipe where possible, using operators to transform and combine data streams, and using Subjects for reactive programming. By following these techniques, you can write clean, efficient, and maintainable code that takes full advantage of the power of observables.

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