AngularJS: Best way to watch dimensions?

All we need is an easy explanation of the problem, so here it is.

So, I’ve come up with a few solutions to this and I’m still not quite sure what is best. First for reference there is one similar question I could find, though it’s a bit old. Here it is for anyone reading this later: Watching dimension changes in Angular

The Goal

I have portions of my app in which responsive height elements are needed. I want the fastest, most visually appealing way to do this at the UI/directive layer without the need of explicitly broadcasted change events.

Option One: Directive

A simple directive can record the dimensions on every digest loop (and resize event)

return {
  scope: {
    size: '=ngSize'
  link: function($scope, element, attrs) {

    var windowEl = angular.element($window),
        handler  = function() {
          if ($scope.size &&
              element.outerWidth() === $scope.size.width &&
              element.outerHeight() === $scope.size.height) return false;
          $scope.size = {
            width: element.outerWidth(),
            height: element.outerHeight()

    windowEl.on('resize', function() {

    $root.$watch(function() { return [element.outerWidth(), element.outerHeight()] }, handler, true);


Problem: The change doesn’t propagate quickly enough and visual lag is noticeable.

Solution: Using an interval call

Option Two: $interval

I tried the same thing with an $interval call and it worked, but CPU usage was surprisingly high, even after I inverted control and kept track of elements in a simple root collection watched by value (avoiding concurrent timers produced by multiple instances of the directive).

Aside from some GC-related issue in my environment (I don’t see anything that suggests this currently), might there be a better approach to creating this kind of fluid layout?

Proposed Solution/Question

My first thought would be a way to create a concurrent $digest loop of sorts, to efficiently monitor the DOM as a whole for any visual changes. Is it possible to efficiently iterate through all computed styles, for example, to produce a cheap hash that can be watched by value? Something that can be triggered relatively inexpensively every time a relevant computed style is added and/or changed?

Before I build and profile it, could someone comment as to whether it’s even realistic, or if it simply makes more sense to abstract/refactor the resize triggers in the first place?

Any other ideas on the preferred way to accomplish this in 1.2.9?

[edit] An alternate, perhaps simpler question: is it even possible to provide a realistic refresh rate of 1-200ms via Javascript in a computationally-efficient manner? If so, would that way be Angular’s $interval, or could a ‘VanillaJS’ implementation be more efficient?

How to solve :

I know you bored from this bug, So we are here to help you! Take a deep breath and look at the explanation of your problem. We have many solutions to this problem, But we recommend you to use the first method because it is tested & true method that will 100% work for you.

Method 1

Unfortunately this question didn’t get as much attention as I would have liked… And I don’t have time to write a detailed explanation with background, profiler screenshots, etc. But I did find a solution, and I hope this helps someone else dealing with the same issue.


The $digest loop in any realistic medium-large application will not be able to handle a refresh of 100ms.

Given the requirement of setInterval I simply bypassed the loop entirely, instead opting to broadcast a state change only when differing dimensions are detected (using the offsetWidth/Height native properties).

Running at a 100ms interval with a single $root scope manifest is giving the best results of anything I’ve tested, with ~10.2% active-tab CPU on my 2.4Ghz i7 2013 MBP–acceptable compared to the ~84% with $interval.

Any comments and critiques are welcome, otherwise, here is the self-contained directive! Obviously you can get creative with the scope and/or attributes to customize the watchers, but in the interest of staying on topic I’ve tried to omit any superfluous code.

It will monitor & bind size changes on an element to a scope property of your choosing, for N elements with a linear complexity. I can’t guarantee it’s the fastest/best way to do this, but it’s the fastest implementation I could develop quickly that tracks state-agnostic DOM-level dimension changes:

app.directive('ngSize', ['$rootScope', function($root) {
  return {
    scope: {
        size: '=ngSize'
    link: function($scope, element, attrs) {

        $root.ngSizeDimensions  = (angular.isArray($root.ngSizeDimensions)) ? $root.ngSizeDimensions : [];
        $root.ngSizeWatch       = (angular.isArray($root.ngSizeWatch)) ? $root.ngSizeWatch : [];

        var handler = function() {
            angular.forEach($root.ngSizeWatch, function(el, i) {
                // Dimensions Not Equal?
                if ($root.ngSizeDimensions[i][0] != el.offsetWidth || $root.ngSizeDimensions[i][1] != el.offsetHeight) {
                    // Update Them
                    $root.ngSizeDimensions[i] = [el.offsetWidth, el.offsetHeight];
                    // Update Scope?
                    $root.$broadcast('size::changed', i);

        // Add Element to Chain?
        var exists = false;
        angular.forEach($root.ngSizeWatch, function(el, i) { if (el === element[0]) exists = i });

        // Ok.
        if (exists === false) {
            $root.ngSizeDimensions.push([element[0].offsetWidth, element[0].offsetHeight]);
            exists = $root.ngSizeWatch.length-1;

        // Update Scope?
        $scope.$on('size::changed', function(event, i) {
            // Relevant to the element attached to *this* directive
            if (i === exists) {
                $scope.size = {
                    width: $root.ngSizeDimensions[i][0],
                    height: $root.ngSizeDimensions[i][1]

        // Refresh: 100ms
        if (!window.ngSizeHandler) window.ngSizeHandler = setInterval(handler, 100);

        // Window Resize?
        // angular.element(window).on('resize', handler);


Method 2

Check out

which does a lot of what you need, I think. You can watch window width and so on. I’m not sure if it works on height as well, but you could extend it.

Note: Use and implement method 1 because this method fully tested our system.
Thank you 🙂

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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