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RxJS patterns - Prematurely ending work

This post is part of a series of blogpost on different RxJS patterns that I use quite often. Here are the previous ones:

The next pattern I want to discuss when we you want to prematurely end work. There are many scenarios when you would want to do this. We can start some work (aka an Observable) and want to kill that subscription if our user navigates to a different page, the user changes something which should trigger a different call, …

How can we do it

One thing I really like about RxJS is how declarative it is. You can quite often translate what you want into a sentence and translate that sentence into code.

Let’s say that we want to listen to a certain stream, until a certain event happens. An extremely common scenario is when you are working with a UI framework that works with components. Often you want to: ‘Listen to this specific Observable until the component gets destroyed’.

Translated into code, we could have something like this:


Note: listenTillThisEventHappens is not an operator :).

The listenTillThisEventHappens can be replaced by the takeUntil operator which does exactly this. And we can create a stream from a lifecycle hook that gets called via our UI framework. Checkout the other pattern ‘mapping function calls to streams’ to see how you can accomplish this.

The resulting code is:


When creating this Observable we use the takeUntil operator. This operator will subscribe to the stream above (if it was subscribed to itself of course) and will proxy these values until the componentDestroy$ emits. Then the takeUntil will kill the subscription.

When to use this

Everytime you are thinking: ‘I want to stop this when that happens’.

  • To kill subscriptions when a component is destroyed
  • When trying to know when a user stopped dragging. You can have a stream that listens for ‘dragDown’ and take values until a ‘dragUp’ events happens.

Kwinten Pisman

Freelance frontend architect. Occasional blogger. Reactive fan.