AngularJS : Initialize service with asynchronous data

AngularJS : Initialize service with asynchronous data

I have an AngularJS service that I want to initialize with some asynchronous data. Something like this:
myModule.service(‘MyService’, function($http) {
var myData = null;

$http.get(‘data.json’).success(function (data) {
myData = data;
});

return {
setData: function (data) {
myData = data;
},
doStuff: function () {
return myData.getSomeData();
}
};
});

Obviously this won’t work because if something tries to call doStuff() before myData gets back I will get a null pointer exception. As far as I can tell from reading some of the other questions asked here and here I have a few options, but none of them seem very clean (perhaps I am missing something):
Setup Service with “run”
When setting up my app do this:
myApp.run(function ($http, MyService) {
$http.get(‘data.json’).success(function (data) {
MyService.setData(data);
});
});

Then my service would look like this:
myModule.service(‘MyService’, function() {
var myData = null;
return {
setData: function (data) {
myData = data;
},
doStuff: function () {
return myData.getSomeData();
}
};
});

This works some of the time but if the asynchronous data happens to take longer than it takes for everything to get initialized I get a null pointer exception when I call doStuff()
Use promise objects
This would probably work. The only downside it everywhere I call MyService I will have to know that doStuff() returns a promise and all the code will have to us then to interact with the promise. I would rather just wait until myData is back before loading the my application.
Manual Bootstrap
angular.element(document).ready(function() {
$.getJSON(“data.json”, function (data) {
// can’t initialize the data here because the service doesn’t exist yet
angular.bootstrap(document);
// too late to initialize here because something may have already
// tried to call doStuff() and would have got a null pointer exception
});
});

Global Javascript Var
I could send my JSON directly to a global Javascript variable:
HTML:

data.js:
var dataForMyService = {
// myData here
};

Then it would be available when initializing MyService:
myModule.service(‘MyService’, function() {
var myData = dataForMyService;
return {
doStuff: function () {
return myData.getSomeData();
}
};
});

This would work too, but then I have a global javascript variable which smells bad.
Are these my only options? Are one of these options better than the others? I know this is a pretty long question, but I wanted to show that I have tried to explore all my options. Any guidance would greatly be appreciated.

Solutions/Answers:

Solution 1:

Have you had a look at $routeProvider.when('/path',{ resolve:{...}? It can make the promise approach a bit cleaner:

Expose a promise in your service:

app.service('MyService', function($http) {
    var myData = null;

    var promise = $http.get('data.json').success(function (data) {
      myData = data;
    });

    return {
      promise:promise,
      setData: function (data) {
          myData = data;
      },
      doStuff: function () {
          return myData;//.getSomeData();
      }
    };
});

Add resolve to your route config:

app.config(function($routeProvider){
  $routeProvider
    .when('/',{controller:'MainCtrl',
    template:'<div>From MyService:<pre>{{data | json}}</pre></div>',
    resolve:{
      'MyServiceData':function(MyService){
        // MyServiceData will also be injectable in your controller, if you don't want this you could create a new promise with the $q service
        return MyService.promise;
      }
    }})
  }):

Your controller won’t get instantiated before all dependencies are resolved:

app.controller('MainCtrl', function($scope,MyService) {
  console.log('Promise is now resolved: '+MyService.doStuff().data)
  $scope.data = MyService.doStuff();
});

I’ve made an example at plnkr: http://plnkr.co/edit/GKg21XH0RwCMEQGUdZKH?p=preview

Solution 2:

Based on Martin Atkins’ solution, here is a complete, concise pure-Angular solution:

(function() {
  var initInjector = angular.injector(['ng']);
  var $http = initInjector.get('$http');
  $http.get('/config.json').then(
    function (response) {
      angular.module('config', []).constant('CONFIG', response.data);

      angular.element(document).ready(function() {
          angular.bootstrap(document, ['myApp']);
        });
    }
  );
})();

This solution uses a self-executing anonymous function to get the $http service, request the config, and inject it into a constant called CONFIG when it becomes available.

Once completely, we wait until the document is ready and then bootstrap the Angular app.

This is a slight enhancement over Martin’s solution, which deferred fetching the config until after the document is ready. As far as I know, there is no reason to delay the $http call for that.

Unit Testing

Note: I have discovered this solution does not work well when unit-testing when the code is included in your app.js file. The reason for this is that the above code runs immediately when the JS file is loaded. This means the test framework (Jasmine in my case) doesn’t have a chance to provide a mock implementation of $http.

My solution, which I’m not completely satisfied with, was to move this code to our index.html file, so the Grunt/Karma/Jasmine unit test infrastructure does not see it.

Solution 3:

I used a similar approach to the one described by @XMLilley but wanted to have the ability to use AngularJS services like $http to load the configuration and do further initialization without the use of low level APIs or jQuery.

Using resolve on routes was also not an option because I needed the values to be available as constants when my app is started, even in module.config() blocks.

I created a small AngularJS app that loads the config, sets them as constants on the actual app and bootstraps it.

// define the module of your app
angular.module('MyApp', []);

// define the module of the bootstrap app
var bootstrapModule = angular.module('bootstrapModule', []);

// the bootstrapper service loads the config and bootstraps the specified app
bootstrapModule.factory('bootstrapper', function ($http, $log, $q) {
  return {
    bootstrap: function (appName) {
      var deferred = $q.defer();

      $http.get('/some/url')
        .success(function (config) {
          // set all returned values as constants on the app...
          var myApp = angular.module(appName);
          angular.forEach(config, function(value, key){
            myApp.constant(key, value);
          });
          // ...and bootstrap the actual app.
          angular.bootstrap(document, [appName]);
          deferred.resolve();
        })
        .error(function () {
          $log.warn('Could not initialize application, configuration could not be loaded.');
          deferred.reject();
        });

      return deferred.promise;
    }
  };
});

// create a div which is used as the root of the bootstrap app
var appContainer = document.createElement('div');

// in run() function you can now use the bootstrapper service and shutdown the bootstrapping app after initialization of your actual app
bootstrapModule.run(function (bootstrapper) {

  bootstrapper.bootstrap('MyApp').then(function () {
    // removing the container will destroy the bootstrap app
    appContainer.remove();
  });

});

// make sure the DOM is fully loaded before bootstrapping.
angular.element(document).ready(function() {
  angular.bootstrap(appContainer, ['bootstrapModule']);
});

See it in action (using $timeout instead of $http) here: http://plnkr.co/edit/FYznxP3xe8dxzwxs37hi?p=preview

UPDATE

I would recommend to use the approach described below by Martin Atkins and JBCP.

UPDATE 2

Because I needed it in multiple projects, I just released a bower module that takes care of this: https://github.com/philippd/angular-deferred-bootstrap

Example that loads data from the back-end and sets a constant called APP_CONFIG on the AngularJS module:

deferredBootstrapper.bootstrap({
  element: document.body,
  module: 'MyApp',
  resolve: {
    APP_CONFIG: function ($http) {
      return $http.get('/api/demo-config');
    }
  }
});

Solution 4:

The “manual bootstrap” case can gain access to Angular services by manually creating an injector before bootstrap. This initial injector will stand alone (not be attached to any elements) and include only a subset of the modules that are loaded. If all you need is core Angular services, it’s sufficient to just load ng, like this:

angular.element(document).ready(
    function() {
        var initInjector = angular.injector(['ng']);
        var $http = initInjector.get('$http');
        $http.get('/config.json').then(
            function (response) {
               var config = response.data;
               // Add additional services/constants/variables to your app,
               // and then finally bootstrap it:
               angular.bootstrap(document, ['myApp']);
            }
        );
    }
);

You can, for example, use the module.constant mechanism to make data available to your app:

myApp.constant('myAppConfig', data);

This myAppConfig can now be injected just like any other service, and in particular it’s available during the configuration phase:

myApp.config(
    function (myAppConfig, someService) {
        someService.config(myAppConfig.someServiceConfig);
    }
);

or, for a smaller app, you could just inject the global config directly into your service, at the expense of spreading knowledge about the configuration format throughout the application.

Of course, since the async operations here will block the bootstrap of the application, and thus block the compilation/linking of the template, it’s wise to use the ng-cloak directive to prevent the unparsed template from showing up during the work. You could also provide some sort of loading indication in the DOM , by providing some HTML that gets shown only until AngularJS initializes:

<div ng-if="initialLoad">
    <!-- initialLoad never gets set, so this div vanishes as soon as Angular is done compiling -->
    <p>Loading the app.....</p>
</div>
<div ng-cloak>
    <!-- ng-cloak attribute is removed once the app is done bootstrapping -->
    <p>Done loading the app!</p>
</div>

I created a complete, working example of this approach on Plunker, loading the configuration from a static JSON file as an example.

Solution 5:

I had the same problem: I love the resolve object, but that only works for the content of ng-view. What if you have controllers (for top-level nav, let’s say) that exist outside of ng-view and which need to be initialized with data before the routing even begins to happen? How do we avoid mucking around on the server-side just to make that work?

Use manual bootstrap and an angular constant. A naiive XHR gets you your data, and you bootstrap angular in its callback, which deals with your async issues. In the example below, you don’t even need to create a global variable. The returned data exists only in angular scope as an injectable, and isn’t even present inside of controllers, services, etc. unless you inject it. (Much as you would inject the output of your resolve object into the controller for a routed view.) If you prefer to thereafter interact with that data as a service, you can create a service, inject the data, and nobody will ever be the wiser.

Example:

//First, we have to create the angular module, because all the other JS files are going to load while we're getting data and bootstrapping, and they need to be able to attach to it.
var MyApp = angular.module('MyApp', ['dependency1', 'dependency2']);

// Use angular's version of document.ready() just to make extra-sure DOM is fully 
// loaded before you bootstrap. This is probably optional, given that the async 
// data call will probably take significantly longer than DOM load. YMMV.
// Has the added virtue of keeping your XHR junk out of global scope. 
angular.element(document).ready(function() {

    //first, we create the callback that will fire after the data is down
    function xhrCallback() {
        var myData = this.responseText; // the XHR output

        // here's where we attach a constant containing the API data to our app 
        // module. Don't forget to parse JSON, which `$http` normally does for you.
        MyApp.constant('NavData', JSON.parse(myData));

        // now, perform any other final configuration of your angular module.
        MyApp.config(['$routeProvider', function ($routeProvider) {
            $routeProvider
              .when('/someroute', {configs})
              .otherwise({redirectTo: '/someroute'});
          }]);

        // And last, bootstrap the app. Be sure to remove `ng-app` from your index.html.
        angular.bootstrap(document, ['NYSP']);
    };

    //here, the basic mechanics of the XHR, which you can customize.
    var oReq = new XMLHttpRequest();
    oReq.onload = xhrCallback;
    oReq.open("get", "/api/overview", true); // your specific API URL
    oReq.send();
})

Now, your NavData constant exists. Go ahead and inject it into a controller or service:

angular.module('MyApp')
    .controller('NavCtrl', ['NavData', function (NavData) {
        $scope.localObject = NavData; //now it's addressable in your templates 
}]);

Of course, using a bare XHR object strips away a number of the niceties that $http or JQuery would take care of for you, but this example works with no special dependencies, at least for a simple get. If you want a little more power for your request, load up an external library to help you out. But I don’t think it’s possible to access angular’s $http or other tools in this context.

(SO related post)

Solution 6:

What you can do is in your .config for the app is create the resolve object for the route and in the function pass in $q (promise object) and the name of the service you’re depending on, and resolve the promise in the callback function for the $http in the service like so:

ROUTE CONFIG

app.config(function($routeProvider){
    $routeProvider
     .when('/',{
          templateUrl: 'home.html',
          controller: 'homeCtrl',
          resolve:function($q,MyService) {
                //create the defer variable and pass it to our service
                var defer = $q.defer();
                MyService.fetchData(defer);
                //this will only return when the promise
                //has been resolved. MyService is going to
                //do that for us
                return defer.promise;
          }
      })
}

Angular won’t render the template or make the controller available until defer.resolve() has been called. We can do that in our service:

SERVICE

app.service('MyService',function($http){
       var MyService = {};
       //our service accepts a promise object which 
       //it will resolve on behalf of the calling function
       MyService.fetchData = function(q) {
             $http({method:'GET',url:'data.php'}).success(function(data){
                 MyService.data = data;
                 //when the following is called it will
                 //release the calling function. in this
                 //case it's the resolve function in our
                 //route config
                 q.resolve();
             }
       }

       return MyService;
});

Now that MyService has the data assigned to it’s data property, and the promise in the route resolve object has been resolved, our controller for the route kicks into life, and we can assign the data from the service to our controller object.

CONTROLLER

  app.controller('homeCtrl',function($scope,MyService){
       $scope.servicedata = MyService.data;
  });

Now all our binding in the scope of the controller will be able to use the data which originated from MyService.