Home » Angularjs » When to favor ng-if vs. ng-show/ng-hide?

When to favor ng-if vs. ng-show/ng-hide?

Posted by: admin November 2, 2017 Leave a comment

Questions:

I understand that ng-show and ng-hide affect the class set on an element and that ng-if controls whether an element is rendered as part of the DOM.

Are there guidelines on choosing ng-if over ng-show/ng-hide or vice-versa?

Answers:

Depends on your use case but to summarise the difference:

  1. ng-if will remove elements from DOM. This means that all your handlers or anything else attached to those elements will be lost. For example, if you bound a click handler to one of child elements, when ng-if evaluates to false, that element will be removed from DOM and your click handler will not work any more, even after ng-if later evaluates to true and displays the element. You will need to reattach the handler.
  2. ng-show/ng-hide does not remove the elements from DOM. It uses CSS styles to hide/show elements (note: you might need to add your own classes). This way your handlers that were attached to children will not be lost.
  3. ng-if creates a child scope while ng-show/ng-hide does not

Elements that are not in the DOM have less performance impact and your web app might appear to be faster when using ng-if compared to ng-show/ng-hide. In my experience, the difference is negligible. Animations are possible when using both ng-show/ng-hide and ng-if, with examples for both in the Angular documentation.

Ultimately, the question you need to answer is whether you can remove element from DOM or not?

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See here for a CodePen that demonstrates the difference in how ng-if/ng-show work, DOM-wise.

@markovuksanovic has answered the question well. But I’d come at it from another perspective: I’d always use ng-if and get those elements out of DOM, unless:

  1. you for some reason need the data-bindings and $watch-es on your elements to remain active while they’re invisible. Forms might be a good case for this, if you want to be able to check validity on inputs that aren’t currently visible, in order to determine whether the whole form is valid.
  2. You’re using some really elaborate stateful logic with conditional event handlers, as mentioned above. That said, if you find yourself manually attaching and detaching handlers, such that you’re losing important state when you use ng-if, ask yourself whether that state would be better represented in a data model, and the handlers applied conditionally by directives whenever the element is rendered. Put another way, the presence/absence of handlers is a form of state data. Get that data out of the DOM, and into a model. The presence/absence of the handlers should be determined by the data, and thus easy to recreate.

Angular is written really well. It’s fast, considering what it does. But what it does is a whole bunch of magic that makes hard things (like 2-way data-binding) look trivially easy. Making all those things look easy entails some performance overhead. You might be shocked to realize how many hundreds or thousands of times a setter function gets evaluated during the $digest cycle on a hunk of DOM that nobody’s even looking at. And then you realize you’ve got dozens or hundreds of invisible elements all doing the same thing…

Desktops may indeed be powerful enough to render most JS execution-speed issues moot. But if you’re developing for mobile, using ng-if whenever humanly possible should be a no-brainer. JS speed still matters on mobile processors. Using ng-if is a very easy way to get potentially-significant optimization at very, very low cost.

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From my experience:

1) If your page has a toggle that uses ng-if/ng-show to show/hide something, ng-if causes more of a browser delay (slower). For example: if you have a button used to toggle between two views, ng-show seems to be faster.

2) ng-if will create/destroy scope when it evaluates to true/false. If you have a controller attached to the ng-if, that controller code will get executed every time the ng-if evaluates to true. If you are using ng-show, the controller code only gets executed once. So if you have a button that toggles between multiple views, using ng-if and ng-show would make a huge difference in how you write your controller code.

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The answer is not simple:

It depends on the target machines (mobile vs desktop), it depends on the nature of your data, the browser, the OS, the hardware it runs on… you will need to benchmark if you really want to know.

It is mostly a memory vs computation problem … as with most performance issues the difference can become significant with repeated elements (n) like lists, especially when nested (n x n, or worse) and also what kind of computations you run inside these elements:

  • ng-show: If those optional elements are often present (dense), like say 90% of the
    time, it may be faster to have them ready and only show/hide them, especially if their content is cheap (just plain text, nothing to compute or load). This consumes memory as it fills the DOM with hidden elements, but just show/hide something which already exists is likely to be a cheap operation for the browser.

  • ng-if: If on the contrary elements are likely not to be shown (sparse) just build them and destroy them in real time, especially if their content is expensive to get (computations/sorted/filtered, images, generated images). This is ideal for rare or ‘on-demand’ elements, it saves memory in terms of not filling the DOM but can cost a lot of computation (creating/destroying elements) and bandwidth (getting remote content). It also depends on how much you compute in the view (filtering/sorting) vs what you already have in the model (pre-sorted/pre-filtered data).

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One important note:

ngIf (unlike ngShow) usually creates child scopes that may produce unexpected results.

I had an issue related to this and I’ve spent MUCH time to figure out what was going on.

(My directive was writing its model values to the wrong scope.)

So, to save your hair just use ngShow unless you run too slow.

The performance difference is barely noticable anyway and I am not sure yet on who’s favour is it without a test…

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If you use ng-show or ng-hide the content (eg. thumbnails from server) will be loaded irrespective of the value of expression but will be displayed based on the value of the expression.

If you use ng-if the content will be loaded only if the expression of the ng-if evaluates to truthy.

Using ng-if is a good idea in a situation where you are going to load data or images from the server and show those only depending on users interaction. This way your page load will not be blocked by unnecessary nw intensive tasks.

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ng-if on ng-include and on ng-controller will have a big impact matter
on ng-include it will not load the required partial and does not process unless flag is true
on ng-controller it will not load the controller unless flag is true
but the problem is when a flag gets false in ng-if it will remove from DOM when flag gets true back it will reload the DOM in this case ng-show is better, for one time show ng-if is better