Using Effects in an Angular 2 NgRx Application


The first step in getting started with NgRx is to introduce Store in to the application, which is more than just a class, but a whole new way of thinking about state in our Angular applications. This article does not attempt to explain much about Store. If you don’t have any experience working with Store, please take some time to visit Comprehensive Introduction to @ngrx/store. The linked article IMO is the best out there for anyone new. It is as comprehensive as it gets. To get the most out of it, I recommend coding along.

In this article, I will introduce the NgRx Effects library, which is a compliment to Store. I will first do a quick walk through of what a simple login solution might look like only using Store, then I will introduce Effects into the mix. The main goal is get a clearer picture of how Effects actually fits in, and point out some of the benefits. The hardest part for me when starting, was to actually wrap my head around how it all fit together, so that’s what I will do here: try to explain my understandings.

Note: There is a complimentary example project to go along with this article. You can clone it from GitHub.

Let’s first explain the problem domain. We want to create a simple login and then display the user after they have successfully logged in. The username display will first show the user as anonymous, then after login, show the user name and avatar. The result will look like the following:

Before Login


After Login


We’ll first start by implementing this without using Effects. If you look at the @ngrx/store project README, you’ll see the following description about the project:

@ngrx/store is a controlled state container designed to help write performant, consistent applications on top of Angular. Core tenets:

  • State is a single immutable data structure
  • Actions describe state changes
  • Pure functions called reducers take the previous state and the next action to compute the new state
  • State accessed with the Store, an observable of state and an observer of actions

If you have worked with Store (which you should already have, if you are following along), these concepts should be familiar to you. So let’s break each down into code.

In our simple login application, we will have only one state, which is the user state. The UserState will have the following properties

export interface UserState {
  id: number;
  username: string;
  imageUrl: string;
  status: string;

As for the action that “describe[s] state changes” we will (for now) just have two actions, LOAD_USER_FAILURE and LOAD_USER_SUCCESS, and here is our action creator class

export class UserActions {

  loadUserSuccess(user: UserData): Action {
    return {
      type: UserActions.LOAD_USER_SUCCESS,
      payload: {

  loadUserFailure(message: string): Action {
    return {
      type: UserActions.LOAD_USER_FAILURE,
      payload: {

Now for the reducer

const initialState: UserState = new UserRecord() as UserState;

export const userReducer: ActionReducer<UserState>
    = (state = initialState, {type, payload}: Action) => {
  switch (type) {
    case UserActions.LOAD_USER_SUCCESS:
      const { user } = payload;
      return state.withMutations(currentUser => {
          .set('username', user.username)
          .set('imageUrl', user.imageUrl)
          .set('status', USER_LOGGED_IN);
    case UserActions.LOAD_USER_FAILURE:
      return initialState;

      return state;

Note that the previous two snippets are not consistent. The previous UserState interface was just an example to show the UserState properties. If you are trying to follow along at this point from the linked example, you may be a little bit confused.

First of all the application does not show an example of this initial implementation not using effects. Secondly, the application uses Immutable.js to create some of the models, which might be a little confusing at first. But if you just keep in mind the properties of the UserState interface mentioned above, it should be pretty easy to still follow along in this article.

In the above reducer, just imagine that the LOAD_USER_SUCCESS action returns the new user state, and the LOAD_USER_FAILED returns the initial default user state. As this article is not mainly about store, these concepts should not be new to you.

Now the last point in the quoted documentation is the state access through Store. For that, we will simply subscribe to the user state in the AppComponent

  selector: 'my-app',
  templateUrl: './app.component.html'
export class AppComponent {
  user: Observable<User>;

  constructor(private store$: Store<AppState>) {
    this.user =$.let(getUser());

You might be used to seeing store$.select('user'), but here, I’m using the selector pattern and just using let. The result is the same. You can find the getUser in the user.selectors file (in the example app).

So now, we have our NgRx components in place, let’s implement the login and see how it would normally be implemented without using Effects.

  selector: 'login',
  templateUrl: './login.component.html'
export class LoginComponent {

  constructor(private store$: Store<AppState>,
              private userActions: UserActions,
              private authService: AuthService) {}

  login(form: any) {
      username: form.username,
      password: form.password
    .subscribe((res: LoginResponse) => {
      if (res.isError) {$.dispatch(this.userActions.loadUserFailure(res.message));
      } else {$.dispatch(this.userActions.loadUserSuccess(res.user));

As mentioned previously, this example is not in the example application. But you can see from the example, that we just login with the AuthService, and when we get the response, we either dispatch the LOAD_USER_FAILURE action with the error message, or we dispatch the LOAD_USER_SUCCESS action with the logged in user details.

This implementation would be how we would normally do it, without effects; the component (or maybe even the service) would be the one that dispatches the new action to update the user state.

When we introduce effects, what we would do is introduce a new action, that is not necessarily tied directly to any state, like in the case of the two previous user actions. The reason for this, is that the effect will subscribe to this new action, and in a way transform it. Let’s see how the new login implementation will look like

export class LoginComponent {

  constructor(private store$: Store<AppState>,
              private authActions: AuthActions) {}

  login(form: any) {$.dispatch(this.authActions.login({
      username: form.username,
      password: form.password

Here, we are introducing a new LOGIN action, that we will put in a new AuthActions class.

export class AuthActions {
  static readonly LOGIN = 'LOGIN';

  login(credentials: Credentials): Action {
    return {
      type: AuthActions.LOGIN,
      payload: { credentials }

All the login method does now is dispatch the new LOGIN action, and the effect will subscribe to it, doing most of the legwork that would normally have been handled in the login method. And here is our effects class

export class AuthEffects {

  constructor(private authService: AuthService,
              private userActions: UserActions,
              private actions$: Actions) {}

    * On the LOGIN action, this effect will make a request to authenticate.
    * If not authenticated, it will emit a LOAD_USER_FAILURE action.
    * Otherwise, it will emit a LOAD_USER_SUCCESS action.
  login$ = this.actions$
    .map(({payload}) => payload.credentials as Credentials)
    .switchMap(credentials => {
      return this.authService.login(credentials)
        .map((res: LoginResponse) => {
          if (res.isError) {
            return this.userActions.loadUserFailure(res.message);
          return this.userActions.loadUserSuccess(res.user);

The Actions class is an Effects library API. It is a stream of all the actions dispatched in our application. Here, our effect will subscribe to the LOGIN action. Each LOGIN action will have the credentials as the payload, and we will use Observable.switchMap to make an authentication request, returning a new Observable that will either be mapped to the LOAD_USER_SUCCESS action or the LOAD_USER_FAILED action.

We don’t need to do anything after this (e.g. subscribe to the login$). It is handle transparently. When the LOGIN action is dispatched, the result is like if we had manually dispatched one of the LOAD_USER_XXX actions.

And this is the basis of working with effects. We just dispatch an action that the effect subscribes to, and then the effect should perform some operation(s) and return a different Action observable.

I think one of the main benefits of doing it this way (instead of without effects) is the separation of concerns. This separation makes our components a lot simpler and easier to test. All the components do is subscribe to state and dispatch actions. This makes testing a breeze. No need to make a bunch of crazy mocks like we might normally do. It’s also easier to reason about the side effects when they are all in one location.

And that’s it. It takes a bit of practice to get used to this new way doing things, but in the end, I personally feel like it’s a lot cleaner. I have noticed my tests getting a lot cleaner also.

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