After delving into the @angular/forms package I've been able to get a better understanding of how things really work under the hood. In this article I'd like to share my vision with you.

Contents#

Base entities#

In order to get the most out of the Forms API, we must ensure that we look over some of its essential parts.

AbstractControl#

This (abstract) class contains logic shared across FormControl, FormGroup and FormArray:

  • running validators
  • changing and calculating UI status - markAsDirty(), markAsTouched(), dirty, touched, pristine etc...
  • resetting status
  • keeping track of validation status(invalid, valid)

This class, as well as its subclasses, can referred to as the model layer - it stores data related to a specific entity.

Multiple AbstractControls can be seen as tree where the leaves are always going to be FormControl instances and the other 2 (FormArray, FormGroup) can be thought of as AbstractControl containers, which entails that they can't be used as leaves because they must contain at least on AbstractControl instance.

// FG - FormGroup
// FA - FormArray
// FC - FormControl

    FG
  /   \
FC    FG
    /    \
  FC     FA
        / | \
      FC FC FC

The above tree can be the result of

<form>
  <input type="text" formControlName="companyName">

  <ng-container formGroupName="personal">
    <input type="text" formControlName="name">

    <ng-container formArrayName="hobbies">
      <input type="checkbox" formControlName="0">
      <input type="checkbox" formControlName="1">
      <input type="checkbox" formControlName="2">
    </ng-container>
  </ng-container>
</form>

You can find more about formArrayName and formGroupName in the upcoming sections.

FormControl

It extends AbstractControl, which means it will inherit all the characteristics listed above. What's important to mention here is that FormControl is put together with only one form control(a DOM element: <input>, <textarea>) or a custom component(with the help of ControlValueAccessor- more on that later!).

A FormControl can be considered standalone if it does not belong to an AbstractControl tree. As a result, it will be completely independent, meaning that its validity, value and user interaction won't be affect any of its form container ancestors(ng-run Example).

FormArray

It extends AbstractControl and its job is to group multiple AbstractControls together.

From a tree perspective, it is a node that must contain at least one descendant. Its validation status, dirtiness, touched status and value usually depend on its descendants. There could be cases, though, where a container has certain validators so errors might appear at that node's level.

Its defining characteristic is that it stores its children in an array.

FormGroup

Same as FormArray, except that it stores its descendants in an object.

AbstractControlDirective#

It is the base class for form-control-based directives(NgModel, FormControlName, FormControlDirective) and contains boolean getters that reflect the current status of the bound control(valid, touched, dirty etc...).
The previously mentioned control is bound to a DOM element with the help of a concrete implementation of AbstractControlDirective(NgModel, FormControlName) and a ControlValueAccessor.

Thus, this class can be thought of as a middleman that connects ControlValueAccessor(view layer) with AbstractControl(model layer) - more on that in the forthcoming sections.

It is worth mentioning that multiple AbstractControlDirectives can bind the same AbstractControl to multiple DOM elements or custom components, to multiple ControlValueAccessors.

Consider this example:

<form>
  <input ngModel name="option" value="value1" type="radio">

  <input ngModel="value3" name="option" value="value2" type="radio">

  <input ngModel="value1" name="option" value="value3" type="radio">
</form>

As a side note, providing a default value right from the template can be achieved by setting the last ngModel directive's value to the value of the radio button you want to be checked by default. In the above snippet, the first button will be checked.

This happens because the last directive will be the one which will have the final call
of setUpControl() function.

export function setUpControl(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  if (!control) _throwError(dir, 'Cannot find control with');
  if (!dir.valueAccessor) _throwError(dir, 'No value accessor for form control with');

  /* ... */

  dir.valueAccessor !.writeValue(control.value);
  
  /* ... */
}

ng-run Example.

AbstractFormGroupDirective#

It's a container for AbstractFormGroupDirective and AbstractControlDirective instances and its useful when you want to create a sub-group of AbstractControls(eg: address: { city, street, zipcode }) or run validators for some specific AbstractControls(eg: min-max validator that makes sure that min control can't have a value that is greater than max control's value).

Its concrete implementations are: formGroupName, formArrayName, ngModelGroup.

<form [formGroup]="filterForm">
  <ng-container formGroupName="price">
    <input formControlName="min" type="text">
    <input formControlName="max" type="text">
  </ng-container>
</form>

FormGroupName, being a subclass of AbstractFormGroupDirective it has all the attributes listed at the beginning of this section. It acts as a container for AbstractControl instances as well.
But, FormGroup can only be the top-level container. This means, you can't use FormGroupName as a top-level container as it will result in an error.

AbstractFormGroupDirective provides a way to access to top level FormGroup instance:

get formDirective(): Form|null { return this._parent ? this._parent.formDirective : null; }

where this._parent can be another AbstractFormGroupDirective or a FormGroupDirective instance. The FormGroupDirective does not have a _parent property.

ControlValueAccessor#

ControlValueAccessor is an essential part for the Forms API and can be thought of as the view layer.

Its job is to connect a DOM element(eg: <input>, <textarea>) or a custom component(eg: <app-custom-input>) with an AbstractControlDirective(eg:NgModel, FormControlName). AbstractControlDirective will eventually become a bridge between ControlValueAccessor(view layer) and AbstractControl(model layer). This way, the 2 layers can interact with each other.

For instance:

  • when user is typing into an input: View -> Model
  • when the value is set programmatically(FormControl.setValue('newValue')): Model -> View

Only FormControl instances can 'directly' interact with a ControlValueAccessor, because, in a tree of AbstractControls, a FormControl can only be the leaf node as it is not supposed to contain other nodes. Along these lines, we can deduce that updates that come from the view will start from leaf nodes.

// FG - FormGroup
// FA - FormArray
// FC - FormControl
                                  FG
                                /   \
user typing into an input  <- FC    FA
                                   / | \
                                FC  FC  FC <- user selecting checkbox

The ControlValueAccessor interface looks like this:

export interface ControlValueAccessor {
  writeValue(obj: any): void;

  registerOnChange(fn: any): void;

  registerOnTouched(fn: any): void;

  setDisabledState?(isDisabled: boolean): void;
}
  • writeValue() - writes a new value to an element; the new value comes from the MODEL(FormControl.setValue -> ControlValueAccessor.writeValue -> update element -> change is visible in the UI)
  • registerOnChange() - registers a callback function that will be called whenever the value changes in the UI and will propagate the new value to the model.
  • registerOnTouched() - registers a callback function that will be called when the blur event occurs; the FormControl will be notified of this event as it may need to perform some updates when this event occurs.
  • setDisabledState - will disable/enable the DOM element depending on the value provided; this method is usually called as a result of a change in the MODEL.

You can see these methods' usefulness in the following section: Connecting FormControl with ControlValueAccessor.

There are 3 types of ControlValueAccessors:

default

@Directive({
selector:
    'input:not([type=checkbox])[formControlName],textarea[formControlName],input:not([type=checkbox])[formControl],textarea[formControl],input:not([type=checkbox])[ngModel],textarea[ngModel],[ngDefaultControl]',
})
export class DefaultValueAccessor implements ControlValueAccessor { }

built-in

const BUILTIN_ACCESSORS = [
  CheckboxControlValueAccessor,
  RangeValueAccessor,
  NumberValueAccessor,
  SelectControlValueAccessor,
  SelectMultipleControlValueAccessor,
  RadioControlValueAccessor,
];

You can read more about built-in accessors in Exploring built-in ControlValueAccessors.

custom - when you want a custom component to be part of the AbstractControl tree

@Component({
  selector: 'app-custom-component',
  providers: [
    {
      provide: NG_VALUE_ACCESSOR,
      useExisting: CustomInputComponent,
      multi: true,
    }
  ]
  /* ... */
})
export class CustomInputComponent implements ControlValueAccessor { }
<form>
  <app-custom-component ngModel name="name"></app-custom-component>
</form>

Remember that ngModel is a form-control-based directive, so it will become a bridge between a ControlValueAccessor(view) and FormControl(model).

Connecting FormControl with ControlValueAccessor#

As mentioned in the previous sections, AbstractControlDirective is what the view layer(ControlValueAccessor) needs in order to effectively communicate with the model layer(AbstractControl, concretely FormControl) and vice versa.

This connection can be visualized like as follows:

  -------------------------- 
  |                        | 
  |  ControlValueAccessor  |  <--- View Layer
  |                        | 
  -------------------------- 
    |                 ▲
    |                 |
    |                 |
    ▼                 |
------------------------------ 
|                            | 
|  AbstractControlDirective  | 
|                            | 
------------------------------ 
        |           ▲
        |           |
        |           |
        ▼           |
      ----------------- 
      |               | 
      |  FormControl  |  <--- Model Layer
      |               | 
      ----------------- 

The indicates the ViewToModelPipeline, whereas indicates the ModelToViewPipeline.

AbstractControlDirective plays a critical role here. Let's examine the actual implementation!

The above diagram is the result of this code snippet:

Note: In reality, NgControl extends AbstractControlDirective and it mainly acts as a provider for form-control-based directives: NgModel, FormControlName etc..., but doesn't have any default implementation.

The setUpControl function is called every time a form-control-based directive is initialized.

export function setUpControl(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  if (!control) _throwError(dir, 'Cannot find control with');
  if (!dir.valueAccessor) _throwError(dir, 'No value accessor for form control with');

  control.validator = Validators.compose([control.validator !, dir.validator]);
  control.asyncValidator = Validators.composeAsync([control.asyncValidator !, dir.asyncValidator]);
  dir.valueAccessor !.writeValue(control.value);

  setUpViewChangePipeline(control, dir);
  setUpModelChangePipeline(control, dir);

  setUpBlurPipeline(control, dir);

  /* ... Skipped for brevity ... */
}

// VIEW -> MODEL
function setUpViewChangePipeline(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  dir.valueAccessor !.registerOnChange((newValue: any) => {
    control._pendingValue = newValue;
    control._pendingChange = true;
    control._pendingDirty = true;

    if (control.updateOn === 'change') updateControl(control, dir);
  });
}

// Update the MODEL based on the VIEW's value
function updateControl(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  if (control._pendingDirty) control.markAsDirty();
  
  // `{emitModelToViewChange: false}` will make sure that `ControlValueAccessor.writeValue` won't be called
  // again since the value is already updated, because this change comes from the view
  control.setValue(control._pendingValue, {emitModelToViewChange: false});

  // If you have something like `<input [(ngModel)]="myValue">`
  // this will allow `myValue` to be the new value that comes from the view
  dir.viewToModelUpdate(control._pendingValue);

  control._pendingChange = false;
}

// MODEL -> VIEW
function setUpModelChangePipeline(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  control.registerOnChange((newValue: any, emitModelEvent: boolean) => {
    // control -> view
    dir.valueAccessor !.writeValue(newValue);

    // control -> ngModel
    if (emitModelEvent) dir.viewToModelUpdate(newValue);
  });
}

Here is once again the ControlValueAccessor interface:

export interface ControlValueAccessor {
  writeValue(obj: any): void;

  registerOnChange(fn: any): void;

  registerOnTouched(fn: any): void;

  setDisabledState?(isDisabled: boolean): void;
}

As you can see, the setUpViewChangePipeline method is how the AbstractControlDirective(the dir argument) connects the view with the model(unidirectional connection), by assigning a callback function to ControlValueAccessor.onChange. This will allow an action that happens in the view to be propagated into the model.

Here's a concrete implementation of ControlValueAccessor.registerOnChange:

@Directive({
  selector: 'input[custom-value-accessor][type=text][ngModel]',
  host: {
    '(input)': 'onChange($event.target.value)',
  }
})
export class CustomValueAccessor {
  registerOnChange(fn: (_: any) => void): void { this.onChange = fn; }
}

The setUpModelChangePipeline will allow the AbstractControlDirective to connect the model with the view. This means that every time FormControl.setValue() is invoked, all the callback functions registered within that FormControl will be invoked as well, in order to update that view based on the new model's value.

Notice that I said all the callback functions. This is because multiple AbstractControlDirective can make use of the same FormControl instance.

// Inside `FormControl`
_onChange: Function[] = [];
registerOnChange(fn: Function): void { this._onChange.push(fn); }
// FormControl.setValue
setValue(value: any, options: {
  onlySelf?: boolean,
  emitEvent?: boolean,
  emitModelToViewChange?: boolean,
  emitViewToModelChange?: boolean
} = {}): void {
  (this as{value: any}).value = this._pendingValue = value;
  if (this._onChange.length && options.emitModelToViewChange !== false) {
    this._onChange.forEach(
        (changeFn) => changeFn(this.value, options.emitViewToModelChange !== false));
  }
  this.updateValueAndValidity(options); // Update ancestors
}

Here's an example:

<form>
  <input type="radio" ngModel name="genre" value="horror">
  <input type="radio" ngModel name="genre" value="comedy">
</form>

The setUpControl(control, dir) will be called twice, once for every ngModel. But, on every call, the control(a FormControl instance) argument will be the same. This means that control.onChanges will contain 2 callback function, one for each ControlValueAccessor(<input type="radio"> has the RadioControlValueAccessor bound to it).

As a side note, the ControlValueAccessor.registerOnTouched follows the same principle as ControlValueAccessor.registerOnChange:

// Called inside `setUpControl`
function setUpBlurPipeline(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  dir.valueAccessor !.registerOnTouched(() => {
    control._pendingTouched = true;

    if (control.updateOn === 'blur' && control._pendingChange) updateControl(control, dir);
    if (control.updateOn !== 'submit') control.markAsTouched();
  });
}

This will allow the model to be updated whenever the blur event occurs inside the view.

Back to Contents.


Template Driven Forms and Reactive Forms#

Both strategies are very powerful, but, in my opinion, Reactive Forms come handy when dealing with complex, dynamic logic.

Template Driven Forms#

When using this strategy, most of the logic that concerns the form's construction is performed inside the view. This means that the AbstractControl tree is being created while the view is being built.

Here are the tools we can use when following this template-driven approach:

export const TEMPLATE_DRIVEN_DIRECTIVES: Type<any>[] =
    [NgModel, NgModelGroup, NgForm];

NgModel

It's a form-control-based directive, connects the view layer with the model layer(FormControl) and vice versa and. It also registers the FormControl into the AbstractControl tree.

When using this directive, you can also specify some options:

@Input('ngModelOptions')
  options !: {name?: string, standalone?: boolean, updateOn?: 'change' | 'blur' | 'submit'};

If you want to use a standalone FormControl instance, you can follow this approach:

<form #f="ngForm">
  <input [ngModelOptions]="{ standalone: true }" #myNgModel="ngModel" name="name" ngModel type="text">
</form>

{{ myNgModel.value }}

<br>

{{ f.value | json }}

ng-run Example.

NgModelGroup

Provides a way to group multiple NgModel and NgModelGroup directives. In the model layer, this is represented by a non-top-level FormGroup instance.
It also registers the FormGroup into the AbstractControl tree.

<form> <!-- `NgForm` - automatically bound to `<form>` -->
  <input type="text" ngModel name="companyName"/>

  <div ngModelGroup="personal">
    <input type="text" ngModel name="name"/>

    <div ngModelGroup="address">
      <input type="text" ngModel name="city"/>
      <input type="text" ngModel name="street" />
    </div>
  </div>
</form>

The first occurrence of NgModelGroup must be a child of NgForm:

<!-- Valid -->
<form>
  <ng-container #myGrp="ngModelGroup" ngModelGroup="address">
    <input type="text"ngModel name="city" />
    <input type="text" ngModel name="street">
  </ng-container>
</form>
<!-- Invalid: `No provider for ControlContainer ...` -->
<div #myGrp="ngModelGroup" ngModelGroup="address">
  <input type="text"ngModel name="city" />
  <input type="text" ngModel name="street">
</div>

NgForm

It groups multiple NgModel and NgModelGroup directives. In the model layer, it is represented by a top-level instance, so it listens to form-specific events, such as reset and submit. Also, it is automatically bound to <form> tags.

In the model, this is the root FormGroup instance of the AbstractControl tree.

<form> <!-- NgForm -->
  <input ngModel name="companyName" type="text"> <!-- NgModel -->

  <div ngModelGroup="address"> <!-- NgModelGroup -->
    <input ngModel name="city" type="text"> <!-- NgModel -->
    <input ngModel name="street" type="text"> <!-- NgModel -->
  </div>
</form>

Reactive Forms#

As opposed to Template Driven Forms, when using Reactive Forms the form is already created when the view is being built.

Here are the tools we can use when following this reactive approach:

export const REACTIVE_DRIVEN_DIRECTIVES: Type<any>[] =
    [FormControlDirective, FormGroupDirective, FormControlName, FormGroupName, FormArrayName];

FormControlDirective

It is a form-control-based directive, it is the bridge between the 2 main layers: view and model.

It receives a FormControl instance([formControl]="formControlInstance") which is already synced with, because formControlInstance is already part of an existing AbstractControl tree. Therefore, the important thing to do here is just to bind the formControlInstance to the current DOM element by using the value accessor.

If you want to use a standalone FormControl instance, you can follow this approach:

<input #f="ngForm" [formControl]="formControlInstance" type="text">

{{ f.value }}

FormGroupDirective

In the model layer, it is a top-level FormGroup instance(<form [formGroup]="formGroupInstance">). This also means that it listens to form-specific events, such as reset and submit. formGroupInstance is the root of an already built AbstractControl tree.

FormControlName

It receives a string as argument([formControlName]="nameOfFormControlInstance") and its task is to determine the FormControl instance depending on the provided control name(nameOfFormControlInstance) and the position in the view. If the FormControl instance is not found based on the path, an error will be thrown.

Thus, nameOfFormControlInstance must be a valid name, because it relies on the form container to correctly add this FormControl to the AbstractControl tree.

As mentioned before, the path is inferred based on the position of the DOM element(or custom component) and nameOfFormControlInstance:

// control - is, in this case, the top level `FormGroup` instance
function _find(control: AbstractControl, path: Array<string|number>| string, delimiter: string) {
  if (path == null) return null;

  if (!(path instanceof Array)) {
    path = (<string>path).split(delimiter);
  }
  if (path instanceof Array && (path.length === 0)) return null;

  return (<Array<string|number>>path).reduce((v: AbstractControl | null, name) => {
    if (v instanceof FormGroup) {
      return v.controls.hasOwnProperty(name as string) ? v.controls[name] : null;
    }

    if (v instanceof FormArray) {
      return v.at(<number>name) || null;
    }

    return null;
  }, control);
}
<form [formGroup]="myFormGroup">
  <!-- path: 'name' -->
  <input formControlName="name" type="text">

  <!-- path: 'address' -->
  <ng-container formGroupName="address">
    <!-- path: ['address', 'city'] -->
    <input formControlName="city" type="text">

    <!-- path: ['address', 'street'] -->
    <input formControlName="street" type="text">
  </ng-container>
</form>

And this is how the path of each directive is determined:

export function controlPath(name: string, parent: ControlContainer): string[] {
  return [...parent.path !, name];
}

It is worth mentioning that nameOfFormControlInstance can't be dynamic. Once the FormControl is added, it can't be changed automatically.(Example)

Here's why:

@Directive({selector: '[formControlName]', providers: [controlNameBinding]})
export class FormControlName extends NgControl implements OnChanges, OnDestroy {
  /* ... */
  ngOnChanges(changes: SimpleChanges) {
    if (!this._added) this._setUpControl();
  }

  private _setUpControl() {
    this._checkParentType();

    // formDirective - points to the top-level `FormGroup` instance
    (this as{control: FormControl}).control = this.formDirective.addControl(this);
    if (this.control.disabled && this.valueAccessor !.setDisabledState) {
      this.valueAccessor !.setDisabledState !(true);
    }
    this._added = true;
  }
  /* ... */
}

However, if you still want to change the FormControl instance when the nameOfFormControlInstance changes, you can use this:

{FormArray|FormGroup}.setControl(ctrlName, formControlInstance)

FormGroupName

It receives a string as an argument([formGroupName]="nameOfFormGroupInstance") and based on that argument, it has to find the right FormGroup instance.

It can't be used as a top-level form control container, it must be registered within an exiting FormGroupDirective.

Suppose you have a form like this:

const address = this.fb.group({
  street: this.fb.control(''),
});

this.form = this.fb.group({
  name: this.fb.control(''),
  address,
});

Writing this in the view will result in an error(Cannot find control with name: 'street'):

<form #f="ngForm" [formGroup]="form">
  <input formControlName="name" type="text">

  <input formControlName="street" type="text">
</form>

The way to solve this is to use the FormGroupName directive in order to create a sub-group, so that the view will correlate with model.

<form #f="ngForm" [formGroup]="form">
  <input formControlName="name" type="text">

  <ng-container formGroupName="address">
    <input formControlName="street" type="text">
  </ng-container>
</form>

{{ f.value | json }}

Note: when using FormControlDirective([formControl]="formControlInstance")  this is not needed, because the FormControlDirective does not have to find the FormControl instance since it already receives one through formControlInstance.

FormArrayName

Same as FormGroupName, except that is has to find an existing FormArray instance in the AbstractControl tree.

this.fooForm = this.fb.group({
  movies: this.fb.array([
    this.fb.control('action'),
    this.fb.control('horror'),
    this.fb.control('mistery'),
  ]),
});
<form #f="ngForm" [formGroup]="fooForm">
  <ng-container formArrayName="movies">
    <input
      *ngFor="let _ of fooForm.controls['movies'].controls; let idx = index;"
      [formControlName]="idx"
      type="text"
    >
  </ng-container>
</form>

{{ f.value | json }}

Back to Contents.


Validators#

Validators allow developers to put constraints on AbstractControl instances(FormControl, FormArray, FormGroup).

Validators are set and run when the AbstractControl tree is initialized. If you want to set them after the initialization has taken place, you can use AbstractFormControl.setValidators and AbstractFormControl.setAsyncValidators to set them and AbstractFormControl.updateValueAndValidity to run them.

setValidators(newValidator: ValidatorFn|ValidatorFn[]|null): void {
  this.validator = coerceToValidator(newValidator);
}

updateValueAndValidity(opts: {onlySelf?: boolean, emitEvent?: boolean} = {}): void {
  /* ... */

  if (this.enabled) {
    this._cancelExistingSubscription();
    // Run sync validators
    // and will invoke `this.validator`
    (this as{errors: ValidationErrors | null}).errors = this._runValidator();
    // If `errors` property is not null -> status = 'INVALID'
    (this as{status: string}).status = this._calculateStatus();

    if (this.status === VALID || this.status === PENDING) {
      this._runAsyncValidator(opts.emitEvent);
    }
  }

  /* ... */

  if (this._parent && !opts.onlySelf) {
    this._parent.updateValueAndValidity(opts);
  }
}

From the above code snippet we can also deduce that async validators will not run if the sync validators returned errors.

Usage of built-in Validators#

The built-in validators are available as directives or as static members of Validator class.

For example, the email validator can be used directly in the view like this:

<form>
  <input email ngModel name="email" type="text">
</form>
@Directive({
  selector: '[email][formControlName],[email][formControl],[email][ngModel]',
  providers: [EMAIL_VALIDATOR]
})
export class EmailValidator implements Validator {
  /* ... */

  validate(control: AbstractControl): ValidationErrors|null {
    return this._enabled ? Validators.email(control) : null;
  }

  /* ... */
}

Whereas with Reactive Forms you'd use it like this:

this.form = new FormGroup({
  name: new FormControl(defaultValue, [Validators.Email])
})

Although when using Reactive Forms the validators are usually set in the component class, you can still provide validators inside the view; when the AbstractControl instance is created, the validators will eventually be merged inside setUpControl

// dir.validator - sync validators provided via directives(eg: `<input email type="text">`)
// control.validator - sync validators provided through `Reactive Forms`(eg: new FormControl('', [syncValidators]))
export function setUpControl(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  if (!control) _throwError(dir, 'Cannot find control with');
  if (!dir.valueAccessor) _throwError(dir, 'No value accessor for form control with');

  control.validator = Validators.compose([control.validator !, dir.validator]);
  control.asyncValidator = Validators.composeAsync([control.asyncValidator !, dir.asyncValidator]);
  
  /* ... */
}

Validators' Composition#

Validators can be provided from multiple sources: either form the view, or from the class, or from both.

All the validators will be eventually be merged into a single function that, when invoked, will execute all of them sequentially and accumulate their results(returned errors).

Those which implement the Validator interface will be normalized first, meaning that will be transformed into a function that, when invoked, will execute the Validator.validate method:

export function normalizeValidator(validator: ValidatorFn | Validator): ValidatorFn {
  if ((<Validator>validator).validate) {
    return (c: AbstractControl) => (<Validator>validator).validate(c);
  } else {
    return <ValidatorFn>validator;
  }
}

Validators are set and merged(if needed) inside setUpControl function:

export function setUpControl(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  if (!control) _throwError(dir, 'Cannot find control with');
  if (!dir.valueAccessor) _throwError(dir, 'No value accessor for form control with');

  control.validator = Validators.compose([control.validator !, dir.validator]);
  control.asyncValidator = Validators.composeAsync([control.asyncValidator !, dir.asyncValidator]);
  
  /* ... */
}

Let's explore the magic behind Validators.compose:

export class Validators {
  static compose(validators: (ValidatorFn|null|undefined)[]|null): ValidatorFn|null {
    if (!validators) return null;
    const presentValidators: ValidatorFn[] = validators.filter(isPresent) as any;
    if (presentValidators.length == 0) return null;

    return function(control: AbstractControl) {
      return _mergeErrors(_executeValidators(control, presentValidators));
    };
  }
}

function _executeValidators(control: AbstractControl, validators: ValidatorFn[]): any[] {
  return validators.map(v => v(control));
}

// Accumulate errors
function _mergeErrors(arrayOfErrors: ValidationErrors[]): ValidationErrors|null {
  const res: {[key: string]: any} =
      arrayOfErrors.reduce((res: ValidationErrors | null, errors: ValidationErrors | null) => {
        return errors != null ? {...res !, ...errors} : res !;
      }, {});
  return Object.keys(res).length === 0 ? null : res;
}

The same logic applies to Validator.composeAsync, with the exception of the way validators are executed. First, it will convert all the async validators into observables and then will execute them with the help of the forkJoin operator.

export class Validators {
  static composeAsync(validators: (AsyncValidatorFn|null)[]): AsyncValidatorFn|null {
    if (!validators) return null;
    const presentValidators: AsyncValidatorFn[] = validators.filter(isPresent) as any;
    if (presentValidators.length == 0) return null;

    return function(control: AbstractControl) {
      const observables = _executeAsyncValidators(control, presentValidators).map(toObservable);
      return forkJoin(observables).pipe(map(_mergeErrors));
    };
  }
}

Custom Validators#

A recommended way to create a custom validator is to use it as a directive that implements the Validator interface:

// min-max-validator.directive.ts
@Directive({
  selector: '[min-max-validator]',
  providers: [
    {
      provide: NG_VALIDATORS,
      useExisting: forwardRef(() => MinMaxValidator),
      multi: true,
    }
  ]
})
export class MinMaxValidator implements Validator {

  constructor() { }

  validate (f: FormGroup): ValidationErrors | null {
    if (f.pristine) {
      return null;
    }

    const { min, max } = f.controls;

    // `min` or `max` is not a number or is empty
    if (min.invalid || max.invalid) {
      return null;
    }

    if (+min.value >= +max.value) {
      return { minGreaterMax: 'min cannot be greater than max!' };
    }

    return null;
  }
}
<form #f="ngForm">
  <ng-container min-max-validator ngModelGroup="price" #priceGrp="ngModelGroup">
    <input type="text" ngModel name="min" pattern="^\d+$" required />
    <input type="text" ngModel name="max" pattern="^\d+$" required >
  </ng-container>
</form>

ng-run Example

Dynamic Validators#

The Validator interface looks like this:

export interface Validator {
  validate(control: AbstractControl): ValidationErrors|null;

  registerOnValidatorChange?(fn: () => void): void;
}

We can use the registerOnValidatorChange to register a callback function that should be called whenever the validator's inputs change. Invoking that callback function will ensure that your AbstractControl instance is in line with the updated validator.

Example: <input [required]="true"> --> <input [required]="false">

@Directive({
selector:
    ':not([type=checkbox])[required][formControlName],:not([type=checkbox])[required][formControl],:not([type=checkbox])[required][ngModel]',
providers: [REQUIRED_VALIDATOR],
host: {'[attr.required]': 'required ? "" : null'}
})
export class RequiredValidator implements Validator {
  set required(value: boolean|string) {
    this._required = value != null && value !== false && `${value}` !== 'false';
    if (this._onChange) this._onChange();
  }

  registerOnValidatorChange(fn: () => void): void { this._onChange = fn; }
}
export function setUpControl(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  /* ... */
  
  // re-run validation when validator binding changes, e.g. minlength=3 -> minlength=4
  dir._rawValidators.forEach((validator: Validator | ValidatorFn) => {
    if ((<Validator>validator).registerOnValidatorChange)
      (<Validator>validator).registerOnValidatorChange !(() => control.updateValueAndValidity());
  });

  dir._rawAsyncValidators.forEach((validator: AsyncValidator | AsyncValidatorFn) => {
    if ((<Validator>validator).registerOnValidatorChange)
      (<Validator>validator).registerOnValidatorChange !(() => control.updateValueAndValidity());
  });

  /* ... */
}

ng-run Example.

Back to Contents.


Exploring built-in ControlValueAccessors#

These are the built-in value accessors that Angular provides us with:

const BUILTIN_ACCESSORS = [
  CheckboxControlValueAccessor,
  RangeValueAccessor,
  NumberValueAccessor,
  SelectControlValueAccessor,
  SelectMultipleControlValueAccessor,
  RadioControlValueAccessor,
];

In the upcoming sections we are going to explore the internals of some of the built-in value accessors.

SelectValueAccessor#

We can use this value accessor in 2 ways: by using either [value] or [ngValue].

Using <option [value]="primitiveValue">

The primitiveValue argument, as its name implies, can't be something else than a primitive value. If you'd like to bind an object, [ngValue] should be your choice.

Each <option> will set its value to primitiveValue.

@Input('value')
set value(value: any) {
  this._setElementValue(value);
}

_setElementValue(value: string): void {
  this._renderer.setProperty(this._element.nativeElement, 'value', value);
}

ng-run Example.

Using <option [ngValue]="primitiveOrNonPrimitiveValue">

Unlike [value], [ngValue] can take both primitive and non-primitive as arguments.

It will set the value of the <option> tag depending on the value provided to [ngValue].

@Input('ngValue')
  set ngValue(value: any) {
    if (this._select == null) return;
    this._select._optionMap.set(this.id, value);
    this._setElementValue(_buildValueString(this.id, value));
    this._select.writeValue(this._select.value);
}

/* ... */

function _buildValueString(id: string | null, value: any): string {
  if (id == null) return `${value}`;
  if (value && typeof value === 'object') value = 'Object';
  return `${id}: ${value}`.slice(0, 50);
}

We can see that if we pass an object, the value will be something like '1: Object'. If we pass a primitive value, like the name of a city, the will be: 0: 'NY'

It is important to notice that when you change the value of the <select>(by using FormControl.setValue(arg)), if arg is an object, you must make sure it is the same object that you've passed to <option [ngValue]="arg"></option>. That's because, by default, SelectControlValueAccessor.writeValue(obj), it will use the === to identify the selected option.

writeValue(value: any): void {
    this.value = value;
    const id: string|null = this._getOptionId(value); // <---- Here!
    if (id == null) {
      this._renderer.setProperty(this._elementRef.nativeElement, 'selectedIndex', -1);
    }
    const valueString = _buildValueString(id, value);
    this._renderer.setProperty(this._elementRef.nativeElement, 'value', valueString);
}

_getOptionId(value: any): string|null {
  for (const id of Array.from(this._optionMap.keys())) {
    if (this._compareWith(this._optionMap.get(id), value)) return id;
  }

  return null;
}

Where _compareWith looks like this(by default):

return a === b || typeof a === 'number' && typeof b === 'number' && isNaN(a) && isNaN(b);

Here's a StackBlitz example with a custom _compareWith function:

compareWith(existing, toCheckAgainst) {
  if (!toCheckAgainst) {
    return false;
  }
  return existing.id === toCheckAgainst.id;
}
<!-- 
  1) Try without '[compareWith]="compareWith"'
  2) select another option(`B`, or `C`)
  3) click `change`

  You should not see the value updated inside the `<select>`
  and that is because the default impl. of `compareWith` will compare the values with `===`
-->
<select
  #s="ngModel"
  [ngModel]="selectedItem"
  [compareWith]="compareWith"
>
  <option
    *ngFor="let item of items"
    [ngValue]="item"
  >
    {{item.name}}
  </option>
</select>

<br><br>

<button (click)="s.control.setValue({ id: '1', name: 'A' })">change</button>

Here is the test case for such behavior.

SelectMultipleValueAccessor#

Each option is tracked(added to the internal _optionMap property), because

when change event occurs on the <select>, the value accessor needs to provide the right values(the value provided to [value] or [ngValue] in <option>) to the model; this can be achieved with iterating over the selected options(event.target.selectedOptions) and retrieve their values from _optionMap.

// _ - the select element
this.onChange = (_: any) => {
  const selected: Array<any> = [];
  if (_.hasOwnProperty('selectedOptions')) {
    const options: HTMLCollection = _.selectedOptions;
    for (let i = 0; i < options.length; i++) {
      const opt: any = options.item(i);
      const val: any = this._getOptionValue(opt.value);
      selected.push(val);
    }
  }

  this.value = selected;
  fn(selected);
};

when value of the FormControl bound to the <select> element is changed programmatically(FormControl.setValue()), it needs to somehow determine which of the existing options match with the new provided values

writeValue(value: any): void {
  this.value = value;
  let optionSelectedStateSetter: (opt: ɵNgSelectMultipleOption, o: any) => void;
  if (Array.isArray(value)) {
    // convert values to ids
    const ids = value.map((v) => this._getOptionId(v));
    optionSelectedStateSetter = (opt, o) => { opt._setSelected(ids.indexOf(o.toString()) > -1); };
  } else {
    optionSelectedStateSetter = (opt, o) => { opt._setSelected(false); };
  }
  this._optionMap.forEach(optionSelectedStateSetter);
}

RadioValueAccessor#

This value accessor keeps track of the radio buttons with the help of an internal service: RadioControlRegistry, which holds an array of [NgControl, RadioValueAccessor] pairs, where NgControl is a provider token that maps to one of the form-control-based directives: NgModel, FormControl, FormControlName.

Let's see how it actually works:

@Injectable()
export class RadioControlRegistry {
  private _accessors: any[] = [];

  add(control: NgControl, accessor: RadioControlValueAccessor) {
    this._accessors.push([control, accessor]);
  }

  remove(accessor: RadioControlValueAccessor) {
    for (let i = this._accessors.length - 1; i >= 0; --i) {
      if (this._accessors[i][1] === accessor) {
        this._accessors.splice(i, 1);
        return;
      }
    }
  }

  select(accessor: RadioControlValueAccessor) {
    this._accessors.forEach((c) => {
      if (this._isSameGroup(c, accessor) && c[1] !== accessor) {
        c[1].fireUncheck(accessor.value);
      }
    });
  }

  private _isSameGroup(
      controlPair: [NgControl, RadioControlValueAccessor],
      accessor: RadioControlValueAccessor): boolean {
    if (!controlPair[0].control) return false;
    return controlPair[0]._parent === accessor._control._parent &&
        controlPair[1].name === accessor.name;
  }
}

Keep your eyes on the RadioControlRegistry._isSameGroup method.

Let's narrow it down with a simpler example:

<form>
  <input ngModel name="option" value="value1" type="radio"> <!-- #1 NgModel._parent = the top-level `FormGroup` which results from `<form>` -->

  <ng-container ngModelGroup="foo">
    <input ngModel name="option" value="value1" type="radio"> <!-- #2 NgModel._parent = the sub-group `FormGroup` which results from `ngModelGroup` -->
  </ng-container>
</form>

Note that both radio buttons have the same value!

The RadioControlRegistry._accessors array would look like this:

[
  NgControl(-> NgModel) /* #1 */, RadioControlValueAccessor,
  NgControl(-> NgModel) /* #2 */, RadioControlValueAccessor,
]

When the user clicks on the first radio button, this method from RadioControlRegistry will be executed:

select(accessor: RadioControlValueAccessor) {
  this._accessors.forEach((c) => {
    if (this._isSameGroup(c, accessor) && c[1] !== accessor) {
      c[1].fireUncheck(accessor.value);
    }
  });
}

where accessor will be the RadioControlValueAccessor that belongs to the first radio button.

Here is once again the _isSameGroup method:

private _isSameGroup(
    controlPair: [NgControl, RadioControlValueAccessor],
    accessor: RadioControlValueAccessor): boolean {
  if (!controlPair[0].control) return false;
  return controlPair[0]._parent === accessor._control._parent &&
      controlPair[1].name === accessor.name;
}

controlPair[0]._parent === accessor._control._parent is what prevents the first radio button from affecting the second one.

With the following example, if we click on the second button, the first one will be marked as checked.

<form>
  <input ngModel name="option" value="value1" type="radio">

  <input ngModel name="option" value="value1" type="radio">
</form>

That's because out of N radio buttons with the same name and value attributes, only one can be marked as checked. In this case, it is the last one that fulfills these conditions:

this._isSameGroup(c, accessor) && c[1] !== accessor

where accessor is the RadioControlValueAccessor of the selected radio button.

ng-run Example.

Back to Contents.


A better understanding of the AbstractControl tree#

Throughout the article you might have noticed the phrase AbstractControl tree. Remember that AbstractControl is an abstract class and its concrete implementations are FormControl, FormGroup and FormArray.

In order to make things more intuitive, we can visualize their connections as a tree structure.

For instance, this

new FormGroup({
  name: new FormControl(''),
  address: new FormGroup({
    city: new FormControl(''),
    street: new FormControl(''),
  }),
});

can be pictured as follows:

   FG
  /  \
 FC  FG
    /  \
   FC  FC

Using the above diagram we are going to understand how the tree is altered by common AbstractControl actions, such as reset(), submit(), markAsDirty().

I'd recommend reading Base entities before continuing on.

_pendingDirty, _pendingValue, _pendingChange#

These private properties of the AbstractControl class are details that you might not have to be concerned about. However, they play a significant role regarding the AbstractControl tree's effectiveness.

These properties are encountered in the context of a FormControl because their values depend on the values that are sent from the view(from the ControlValueAccessor).

_pendingChange

This property indicates whether or not the user has changed the FormControl's value.

Suppose you have an <input ngModel name="name" type="text"> and the user types in it. As soon as that happens, the ControlValueAccessor's onChange function will be invoked. The function that has been assigned to onChange looks as follows:

function setUpViewChangePipeline(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  dir.valueAccessor !.registerOnChange((newValue: any) => {
    control._pendingValue = newValue;
    control._pendingChange = true;
    control._pendingDirty = true;

    if (control.updateOn === 'change') updateControl(control, dir);
  });
}

control._pendingChange = true marks that the user has visibly interacted with the <input>.

Why is this useful anyway? It is because you can set the event on which the AbstractControl updates itself(it defaults to change).
You can se the update strategy through _updateOn property: _updateOn: 'change'|'blur'|'submit';

With this mind, what would happen if the FormControl has the update strategy set to blur, and the blur event occurs in the view, without the user typing anything in the <input>? In this case, _pendingChange prevents the tree from being redundantly traversed.

function setUpBlurPipeline(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  dir.valueAccessor !.registerOnTouched(() => {
    /* ... */
    if (control.updateOn === 'blur' && control._pendingChange) updateControl(control, dir);
    /* ... */
  });
}

Had the user typed anything in the <input>, the control._pendingChange would've been set to true. As a result, the FormControl and its ancestors would've been updated when the blur event had occurred.

_pendingDirty

A FormControl is considered dirty if the user has changed its value in the UI.

function setUpViewChangePipeline(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  dir.valueAccessor !.registerOnChange((newValue: any) => {
    /* ... */
    control._pendingChange = true;
    control._pendingDirty = true;

    if (control.updateOn === 'change') updateControl(control, dir);
  });
}

function updateControl(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  if (control._pendingDirty) control.markAsDirty();
  /* ... */
}

The callback registered in with dir.valueAccessor !.registerOnChange(cb) will be invoked by the ControlValueAccessor(which resides in the view layer) whenever the value the UI changed.

The AbstractControl.markedAsDirty implementation looks like this:

markAsDirty(opts: {onlySelf?: boolean} = {}): void {
  (this as{pristine: boolean}).pristine = false;

  if (this._parent && !opts.onlySelf) {
    this._parent.markAsDirty(opts);
  }
}

So, if a FormControl is marked as dirty(due to UI change), its ancestors will be updated accordingly(in this case, they will be marked as dirty).

   FG (3)
  /  \
 FC  FG (2)
    /  \
   FC  FC (1)

(1).parent = (2)
(2).parent = (3)
(3).parent = null(root)

Assuming (1) a FormControl bound to an <input> and the user has just typed in it, the above method will be invoked from the updateControl function: control.markAsDirty(), where control is (1). This will propagate up to the root, the order being this: (1) -> (2) -> (3). Thus, the entire tree will be marked as dirty!

There is also an option to solely mark (1) as dirty: (1).markedAsDirty({ onlySelf: true }).

Now you be wondering, what's the need of _pendingDirty, if the control's dirtiness will be changed as soon as the user types something in? This is because the default strategy defaults to change, but it can be changed to something else like blur or submit.

For example, here's what happens when the blur event occurs in the view:

function setUpBlurPipeline(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  dir.valueAccessor !.registerOnTouched(() => {
    /* ... */
    if (control.updateOn === 'blur' && control._pendingChange) updateControl(control, dir);
    /* ... */
  });
}

_pendingValue

You can think of the property as being the freshest value of a FormControl.

Its value is set when the ControlValueAccessor.onChange is invoked, where ControlValueAccessor.onChange does this:

function setUpViewChangePipeline(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  dir.valueAccessor !.registerOnChange((newValue: any) => {
    control._pendingValue = newValue;

    /* ... */

    if (control.updateOn === 'change') updateControl(control, dir);
  });
}

function updateControl(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  if (control._pendingDirty) control.markAsDirty();
  control.setValue(control._pendingValue, {emitModelToViewChange: false});
  dir.viewToModelUpdate(control._pendingValue);
  control._pendingChange = false;
}

However, what is the difference between _pendingValue and value? _pendingValue is the most recent value, whereas value is the value that is visible to the AbstractControl tree. The value is not always equal to _pendingValue as the FormControl might have a different update strategy than change. Of course, the view layer can hold the most recent value, but it doesn't mean that the model layer can.

For example, if the FormControl's update strategy is set to submit, the model's value(FormControl.value) won't be equal to _pendingValue(which is the value that reflects the view) until the submit event occurs.

AbstractControl.setValue() and AbstractControl.patchValue()#

// {FormGroup|FormArray}.setValue
setValue(value: {[key: string]: any}, options: {onlySelf?: boolean, emitEvent?: boolean} = {}):
    void {
  this._checkAllValuesPresent(value);
  Object.keys(value).forEach(name => {
    this._throwIfControlMissing(name);
    this.controls[name].setValue(value[name], {onlySelf: true, emitEvent: options.emitEvent});
  });
  this.updateValueAndValidity(options);
}
// {FormGroup|FormArray}.patchValue
patchValue(value: {[key: string]: any}, options: {onlySelf?: boolean, emitEvent?: boolean} = {}):
    void {
  Object.keys(value).forEach(name => {
    if (this.controls[name]) {
      this.controls[name].patchValue(value[name], {onlySelf: true, emitEvent: options.emitEvent});
    }
  });
  this.updateValueAndValidity(options);
}

AbstractControl.setValue will require you to provide a value for all the existing controls, whereas AbstractControl.patchValue will allow you to provide values for any of the existing controls.

{FormGroup|FormArray}.setValue will first check if you provided an object which contains of all the existing controls, then it will check if you provided any redundant controls(controls that are not among the existing ones)

When calling setValue/patchValue, if AbstractControl is FormControl, it will first update the FormControl instance, then its ancestors. Otherwise, it will first update its descendants, then its ancestors.

Updating the ancestors can be avoided with { onlySelf: true } passed as the second argument.

Here's once again the first example:

const fg = new FormGroup({
  name: new FormControl(''),
  address: new FormGroup({
    city: new FormControl(''),
    street: new FormControl(''),
  }),
});
   FG (4)
  /  \
 FC  FG (3) - address 
    /  \
   FC  FC
   (1) (2)

After performing

fg.get('address').setValue({ city: 'city', street: 'street' })

It will first update (1) and (2), then it will update the value and validity of their container(3) and then it will finally update its ancestors.

patchValue example

const c = new FormControl('');
const c2 = new FormControl('');
const a = new FormArray([c, c2]);

a.patchValue(['andrei']);
console.log(a.value) // ['andrei', '']

setValue example

const c1 = new FormControl('c1');
const c2 = new FormControl('c2');

const a = new FormArray([c1, c2]);

a.setValue(['c1-updated', 'c2-updated', 'c3']); // Error: Cannot find form control at index 2
a.setValue(['c1-updated']); // Error: Must supply a value for form control at index: 1

a.setValue(['c1-updated', 'c2-updated']);

console.log(a.value); // ["c1-updated", "c2-updated"]

What happens with the AbstractControl tree on submit?#

Note: Only FormGroupDirective and NgForm can call onSubmit.

onSubmit($event) {
  (this as{submitted: boolean}).submitted = true;
  syncPendingControls(this.form, this.directives);
  this.ngSubmit.emit($event);
  return false;
}

Some AbstractControl instances might have set the option updateOn differently. Therefore, if one FormControl has the updateOn option set to submit, it means that its value and UI status(dirty, untouched etc...) will only be updated when the submit event occurs. This is what syncPendingControls() does.

// FormControl
_syncPendingControls(): boolean {
  if (this.updateOn === 'submit') {
    if (this._pendingDirty) this.markAsDirty();
    if (this._pendingTouched) this.markAsTouched();
    if (this._pendingChange) {
      this.setValue(this._pendingValue, {onlySelf: true, emitModelToViewChange: false});
      return true;
    }
  }
  return false;
}

// FormArray - FormGroup works in a very similar fashion
_syncPendingControls(): boolean {
    let subtreeUpdated = this.controls.reduce((updated: boolean, child: AbstractControl) => {
      return child._syncPendingControls() ? true : updated;
    }, false);
    if (subtreeUpdated) this.updateValueAndValidity({onlySelf: true});
    return subtreeUpdated;
  }

Consider this example:

this.form = this.fb.group({ name: this.fb.control('', { updateOn: 'submit' }) });

this.form.valueChanges.subscribe(console.warn);

When having a view like this

<form [formGroup]="form" (ngSubmit)="onSubmit()">
  <input [formControl]="form.get('name')" type="text">
  <button type="submit">Submit</button>
</form>

you get the same values every time the submit event occurs, whereas with this view

<form [formGroup]="form" (ngSubmit)="onSubmit()">
  <input formControlName="name" type="text">

  <br><br>
  <button type="submit">Submit</button>
</form>

you get the values only once, when the submit event occurs

That's because of the way FormControlName directives work inside a FormGroupDirective. A FormGroupDirective will keep track of FormControlName directives with the help of directives property. When the submit event occurs, each FormControlName will set the _pendingChange property of their bound FormControl to false.

directives.forEach(dir => {
  const control = dir.control as FormControl;
  if (control.updateOn === 'submit' && control._pendingChange) {
    /* ... */
    control._pendingChange = false;
  }
});

FormControl._pendingChange is set to true every time the change event occurs in the UI.

function setUpViewChangePipeline(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  dir.valueAccessor !.registerOnChange((newValue: any) => {
    control._pendingValue = newValue;
    control._pendingChange = true;
    control._pendingDirty = true;

    if (control.updateOn === 'change') updateControl(control, dir);
  });
}

You can find more about _pendingChange here.

ng-run Example.

Retrieving AbstractControls from the tree#

const fg = new FormGroup({
  name: new FormControl(''),
  address: new FormGroup({
    city: new FormControl(''),
    street: new FormControl(''),
  }),
});

There are a couple of ways to retrieve an AbstractControl.

If the AbstractControl you want to retrieve is a direct descendant of a form control container(fg in this case), you can do this:

fg.controls[nameOfCtrl];

// In our example
fg.controls['name']
fg.controls['address']

However, if the AbstractControl is a few levels deep, you might find it annoying to write such things:

fg.controls['address'].controls['city']

You can use the AbstractControl.get() method instead

fg.get('address.city')

// Or

fg.get(['address', 'street'])

AbstractControl.get() will internally call a function _find which will traverse the tree downwards based on the path provided.


function _find(control: AbstractControl, path: Array<string|number>| string, delimiter: string) {
  if (path == null) return null;

  if (!(path instanceof Array)) {
    path = (<string>path).split(delimiter);
  }
  if (path instanceof Array && (path.length === 0)) return null;

  return (<Array<string|number>>path).reduce((v: AbstractControl | null, name) => {
    if (v instanceof FormGroup) {
      return v.controls.hasOwnProperty(name as string) ? v.controls[name] : null;
    }

    if (v instanceof FormArray) {
      return v.at(<number>name) || null;
    }

    return null;
  }, control);
}

As you might have noticed, if fg had been a FormArray instance, you could've retrieved its descendants by specifying an index, as opposed to a property name(like you'd do with FormGroup)

fg.get('1.city');

// Or

fg.get(['1', 'city']);

AbstractControl.updateValueAndValidity()#

updateValueAndValidity(opts: {onlySelf?: boolean, emitEvent?: boolean} = {}): void {
  this._setInitialStatus();
  this._updateValue();

  if (this.enabled) {
    this._cancelExistingSubscription();
    (this as{errors: ValidationErrors | null}).errors = this._runValidator(); // Sync validators
    (this as{status: string}).status = this._calculateStatus(); // VALID | INVALID | PENDING | DISABLED

    if (this.status === VALID || this.status === PENDING) {
      this._runAsyncValidator(opts.emitEvent);
    }
  }

  if (opts.emitEvent !== false) {
    (this.valueChanges as EventEmitter<any>).emit(this.value);
    (this.statusChanges as EventEmitter<string>).emit(this.status);
  }

  if (this._parent && !opts.onlySelf) {
    this._parent.updateValueAndValidity(opts);
  }
}

As shown above, this method is responsible for multiple things:

  1. updating the current AbstractControl's value
  2. running validators(sync & async)
  3. calculating status based on what validators return
  4. emitting the new value and the new status to the subscribers(unless emitEvent = false)
  5. repeating 1-4 for the parent(unless onlySelf = true)
const fg = new FormGroup({
  name: new FormControl(''),
  address: new FormGroup({
    city: new FormControl(''),
    street: new FormControl(''),
  }),
});
   FG (3)
  /  \
 FC  FG (2)
    /  \
   FC  FC (1)

(1) - fg.get('address.street')
(2) - fg.get('address')
(3) - fg

As soon as you do (1).setValue('new value'), (1).updateValueAndValidity() will be invoked.

setValue(value: any, options: {
  onlySelf?: boolean,
  emitEvent?: boolean,
  emitModelToViewChange?: boolean,
  emitViewToModelChange?: boolean
} = {}): void {
  (this as{value: any}).value = this._pendingValue = value;
  if (this._onChange.length && options.emitModelToViewChange !== false) {
    this._onChange.forEach(
        (changeFn) => changeFn(this.value, options.emitViewToModelChange !== false));
  }
  this.updateValueAndValidity(options);
}

After (1) has been updated, (2) will be updated and so on.. until the root is reached.

Disabling/enabling AbstractControls#

An AbstractControl can be disabled/enabled from the model. The change can be seen in the view with the help of ControlValueAccessor.setDisabledState:

export function setUpControl(control: FormControl, dir: NgControl): void {
  /* ... */
  
  if (dir.valueAccessor !.setDisabledState) {
    control.registerOnDisabledChange(
        (isDisabled: boolean) => { dir.valueAccessor !.setDisabledState !(isDisabled); });
  }

  /* ... */
}

When disabling an AbstractControl instance you can choose not to update its ancestors by using this.control.disable({ onlySelf: true }). This might be the case when a FormControl might be part of the a FormGroup and because of this control being invalid, the entire FormGroup is marked as invalid.

const fg = this.fb.group({
  name: this.fb.control('', Validators.required),
  age: '',
  city: this.fb.control('', Validators.required)
});


fg.controls['name'].disable();
fg.controls['city'].disable({ onlySelf: true });

console.log(fg.valid) // false

Had we omitted { onlySelf: true }, the entire form group(fg) would've been valid(fg.valid === true).

disable(opts: {onlySelf?: boolean, emitEvent?: boolean} = {}): void {
  // If parent has been marked artificially dirty we don't want to re-calculate the
  // parent's dirtiness based on the children.
  const skipPristineCheck = this._parentMarkedDirty(opts.onlySelf);

  (this as{status: string}).status = DISABLED;
  (this as{errors: ValidationErrors | null}).errors = null;
  this._forEachChild(
      (control: AbstractControl) => { control.disable({...opts, onlySelf: true}); });
  this._updateValue();

  if (opts.emitEvent !== false) {
    (this.valueChanges as EventEmitter<any>).emit(this.value);
    (this.statusChanges as EventEmitter<string>).emit(this.status);
  }

  // Will update the value, validity, dirtiness, and touch status
  this._updateAncestors({...opts, skipPristineCheck});
  this._onDisabledChange.forEach((changeFn) => changeFn(true));
}

private _updateAncestors(
    opts: {onlySelf?: boolean, emitEvent?: boolean, skipPristineCheck?: boolean}) {
  if (this._parent && !opts.onlySelf) {
    this._parent.updateValueAndValidity(opts);
    if (!opts.skipPristineCheck) {
      this._parent._updatePristine();
    }
    this._parent._updateTouched();
  }
}

When an AbstractControl is disabled, its validators won't run and its errors will be marked as null and its children are also going to be disabled.

If a parent has been marked artificially dirty(dirtiness is not determined by its children: manually doing {FormGroup|FormArray}.markAsDirty), there is no need to recalculate the parent's dirtiness based on the children because they don't have any effect on the parent:

this.form = this.fb.group({
  name: this.fb.control({ value: 'andrei', disabled: false }),
  age: this.fb.control(''),
});

const nameCtrl = this.form.controls['name'];

// Now, its ancestors will be marked as dirty as well
// In this case, there is only one `FormGroup`(this.form)
nameCtrl.markAsDirty();

nameCtrl.disable();

// Now, `this.form` will be marked as `pristine`, because 
// the child that influenced the parent's dirtiness is disabled

Also, if a form-control-container(FormGroup or FormArray) is disabled, its value will the value collected from all its descendants, regardless of their disabled value:

const g = new FormGroup({
  name: new FormControl('name'),
  address: new FormGroup({
    city: new FormControl('city'),
    street: new FormControl('street'),
  }),
});

g.get('address.city').disable();
g.controls['name'].disable();

console.log(g.value);
/* 
{
  "address": {
    "street": "street"
  }
}
*/

g.disable();
console.log(g.value)
/* 
{
  "name": "name",
  "address": {
    "city": "city",
    "address": "address"
  }
}

The reason behind this is the way AbstractControl.disable() works. Starting from the current AbstractControl it will first disable all its descendants, then collect their value. For example, here is how a FormArray would accumulate the values from its descendants:

_updateValue(): void {
  (this as{value: any}).value =
      this.controls.filter((control) => control.enabled || this.disabled)
          .map((control) => control.value);
}

The control.enabled || this.disabled expression allows us to get the value, even though the child control might be disabled.

However, if the container is not disabled and the child control is, its value won't be taken into account.

If you still want to get the form value, including the disabled controls you can use {FormGroup|FormArray}.getRawValue():

// FormArray.getRawValue()
getRawValue(): any[] {
  return this.controls.map((control: AbstractControl) => {
    return control instanceof FormControl ? control.value : (<any>control).getRawValue();
  });
}

How are CSS classes added depending on AbstractControl's status ?#

CSS classes(ng-valid, ng-pristine, ng-touched etc) are added with the help of NgControlStatus directive, which is automatically bound to a form control element when using ngModel, formControl, formControlName.

Additionally, NgControlStatusGroup is added to the form group(<form>, formGroupName, formGroup, ngModelGroup, formArrayName).

Both NgControlStatus and NgControlStatusGroup will be updated when change detection occurs.

export class AbstractControlStatus {
  private _cd: AbstractControlDirective;

  constructor(cd: AbstractControlDirective) { this._cd = cd; }

  get ngClassUntouched(): boolean { return this._cd.control ? this._cd.control.untouched : false; }
  get ngClassTouched(): boolean { return this._cd.control ? this._cd.control.touched : false; }
  get ngClassPristine(): boolean { return this._cd.control ? this._cd.control.pristine : false; }
  get ngClassDirty(): boolean { return this._cd.control ? this._cd.control.dirty : false; }
  get ngClassValid(): boolean { return this._cd.control ? this._cd.control.valid : false; }
  get ngClassInvalid(): boolean { return this._cd.control ? this._cd.control.invalid : false; }
  get ngClassPending(): boolean { return this._cd.control ? this._cd.control.pending : false; }
}

export const ngControlStatusHost = {
  '[class.ng-untouched]': 'ngClassUntouched',
  '[class.ng-touched]': 'ngClassTouched',
  '[class.ng-pristine]': 'ngClassPristine',
  '[class.ng-dirty]': 'ngClassDirty',
  '[class.ng-valid]': 'ngClassValid',
  '[class.ng-invalid]': 'ngClassInvalid',
  '[class.ng-pending]': 'ngClassPending',
};

@Directive({selector: '[formControlName],[ngModel],[formControl]', host: ngControlStatusHost})
export class NgControlStatus extends AbstractControlStatus {
  constructor(@Self() cd: NgControl) { super(cd); }
}

With that in mind you can add your custom css class depending on form control's(or form-control-container's) validity or user interaction status by using a custom directive

constructor (private ngControlStatus: NgControlStatus) { }

@HostBinding('[class.card__price--incorrect]') this.ngControlStatus.ngClassInvalid();

Note: in order for this to work, your element(or component), besides the above directive, must include one of these form-control-based directives: [formControlName],[ngModel],[formControl]

Back to Contents.

Conclusion#

I hope this article has clarified some concepts and emphasized how powerful this package can be.

Thanks for reading!