1 minute read

We all know what is a function. It takes some or no inputs and produce just 1 output.

function doSomething(input1, input2){
  return input1 + input2;

What if I want the function to keep producing output? Something like this

function doSomething(){
  return 1;
  return 2;
  return 3;

Yes, it can be done with Observables. You can now return multiple values with a function, except that you cannot have input parameters anymore.

observable$ = new Observable<string>((subscriber) => {
    try {
    } catch (err) {

The Observable is a very common data structure used in Angular for getting asynchronous data. It implements the Observer Pattern, which is like a magazine subscription, where you have a publisher pushing magazines to its subscribers over a period of time until the subscriber unsubscribes.

RxJs is the javascript library that allows you to create and use observables. You can install it with npm install rxjs. But if you are on Angular, it is already part of the package.

As in the above function sample, you can create an observable by simply instantiating it, and passing a function that accepts a subscriber as a parameter. The subscriber has 3 main functions - next(), complete() and error(). Use the next() function to send a value to the subscriber. You can keep doing that forever, until you call the complete() function, which basically tells the subscriber that you are done, and there will be no more values. The error() function lets the subscriber knows that there is an error, and it completes too.

To get the values from the publisher, a subscriber needs to subscribe to it.

dataList: Array<string> = [];
subscription = this.observable$.subscribe({
    next: (v) => this.dataList.push(v),
    error: (e) => this.dataList.push(e),
    complete: () => this.dataList.push("completed")

Just like what the observable is emitting, the receiving end, also known as the observer, has 3 properties - next, error, and complete, which are functions to handle the data received from the observable.

A sample of a working code is available on Stackblitz.