Basic Screen Updates with Angular and requestAnimationFrame


Some of the best known approaches for running a countdown or count-up timer in AngularJS are shown on JSFiddle using setInterval and Angular’s builtin $timeout.

Both approaches require the use of $scope.$apply, which is completely normal. It forces the page/bindings to update when a change is made outside of the AngularJS lifecycle (like inside a setInterval or setTimeout). If you want to read more about $scope.$apply check out this article.

For this particular case, I need a countdown timer on the page. Basically it sits in the upper right hand corner of the page and lets the user know when it’s about to refresh the data.

apigee app services dashboard

I finally got a chance to analyze the performance of updating the page every second with a simple timer and couldn’t believe how much jank it was causing. There are a lot of good articles and videos explaining jank and how to debug, but Paul Irish made a really good short video and I advise you check it out here.

If we look at the frame rate on the recommended way of using setInterval, we see horrible performance: bad fps jank Yep, That’s 1 FPS spikes with a continuous stream of 9 frames per second. Ouch.

Also, if you look at the memory being consumed, we’re taking quite a hit for this little counter. bad fps jank We maintain around 25MB and then shoot up to 34 when the page does its refresh.

rAF to the rescue!

I’m still trying to bring requestAnimationFrame into my dev thought process, and this was a fine chance to see if it could save the day. Here’s the code I put together:

And now, when we look at our frame rate in Chrome dev tools we get a fairly consistent 60 FPS: good fps

Also the memory footprint is greatly reduced: good fps Cruising at 9.3MB instead of the 25MB we were getting before bringing in rAF.

A lot of the performance overhead is based on the AngularJS framework itself. It could be stuff I need to refactor and make better or it might just be the framework lifecycle. I need to get a baseline on the AngularJS runtime before I can make any assumptions (or point fingers). This is my first perf analysis of the framework and I plan on doing much more in the coming months.